Top Tips for a Successful Global University Application

RST Senior Speech Day 2022 395

The UK education system is globally recognised for its teaching excellence; leaving Rugby School Thailand students well qualified to pursue a wide range of pathways after they complete their studies, including global universities.

Given that entry requirements, and application processes vary from country to country and by institution, creating a global university application can be a daunting task. We asked Claire Cecil, our Head of Higher Education and Careers for her top tips to make a successful global university application:

1.        Determine what is a “good fit” for you

With so many available choices, it is really important that students consider their choice of university and course carefully. Higher education is a significant investment, both financially and in terms of time and effort. Your university should be a place where you fit in well both socially and academically. Think about your academic, social and financial needs, as well as whether your chosen pathway supports your future career goals. University is a place where you should grow (not just academically), and so by establishing your exact requirements you have a better chance of academic and personal success.

2.        Research and Research some more….

Once you have explored your requirements, researching potential countries, courses and universities is essential. At RST, we use Unifrog, an award winning careers platform. Students are able to access a wealth of information, including career and course information. They can search for opportunities at global universities and use the Know How Library to find out more about the global application processes. In addition, the school encourages students to attend our series workshops and seminars, where they have the opportunity to meet from university representatives and other professionals.

3.         Super Curricular Activities

University courses can be extremely competitive. So how do you make yourself stand out in a pool of highly qualified students? Your school grades and external test scores may not be sufficient. Highly selective universities are looking for students who are passionate about their chosen subject, and explore it beyond what they have learned in the classroom. This may be through wider reading, work experience, summer schools, personal projects to name but a few. Taking the International Project Qualification, or exploring the many MOOCs on Unifrog are also excellent ways of exploring beyond the curriculum. Global universities, such as Oxford and Cambridge also have useful resources, such as Oxplore and MyHEPlus.

4.        Understand application requirements

Once you have compiled a list of universities, the next step is to understand the individual application requirements. These can vary considerably; universities may have different admission requirements (such as standardised test scores, essays, recommendation letters, and transcripts) and different application systems. It is essential that you understand what each university requires, and work with the Higher Education and Careers team well in advance to plan effectively. Remember that ultimately, you are responsible for your applications.

5.         Develop your Skills

Think about what skills may be required to succeed in your chosen course/profession. For example, to become a successful doctor, there are many skills beyond scientific excellence that you will need to use, such as communication, teamwork, leadership and being empathetic. Through Unifrog, you can self-assess your current skills, and identify those that you may need to develop further. We can then start to identify ways of developing these skills, such as through student mentoring or school leadership roles.

6.         Prepare for standardised and subject tests

Standardised tests like the SAT, ACT, TOEFL, and IELTS are often required for admission to universities. Certain universities and courses also have specific test requirements (such as medical courses). Research the tests required by the universities you are applying to and prepare accordingly. RST offers support in preparation for SAT and IELTS. Most tests also provide online study materials and practice tests. It is a great idea to practise these under timed conditions before the real thing.

7.        Gather academic documents

Depending on your university, you may need academic documents like transcripts and copies of your certificates to verify your academic qualifications. Make sure you have gathered all the necessary documents from your high school or college. If the documents are in a language other than English, you may need to have them translated by a certified translator.

8.        Take time to craft your personal statement and/or essay

Personal statements and essays can be a key part of the application process. They provide an opportunity for you to showcase your personality, goals, and achievements. It is important to find out exactly what your programme requires.

In the case of the US essay, you are trying to show the university that you are a good fit for them, and are showing admissions staff who you are beyond the information provided in your application. You may need to write several drafts, so start early! RST provides workshops and individual support throughout this process.

9.        Help your Referees

Many universities require recommendation letters from teachers, counsellors, or other professionals who know you well. Establish exactly what is needed for your application and communicate this to your university counsellor and staff. At RST, we encourage students to keep a record of their skills and achievements (both in and outside of school), which can be so helpful when teachers are writing letters of recommendation. Make sure to give your recommenders enough time to write and submit their letters!

10.        Make Realistic Applications, and Don’t Panic Apply

We would suggest that you make no more than 10 applications! If you have researched “good fit” programmes thoroughly, this should be enough. Ideally you will have an “aspirational” choice (one to aim high for!) as well as some solid and safer options. This will leave you more prepared should your results not be as expected.

Making applications is extremely time-consuming (and costly). It also requires the support of your teachers and university professionals. Only apply to courses you are seriously interested in, and focus on making quality applications here. The rest of your time should be spent on ensuring that you are able to meet the academic requirements! Time completing applications is time away from studying and enjoying your time in school!

11.        Take ownership of your application, communicate and be organised

This is your future! Your teachers are here to support you throughout the process, but you need to take overall responsibility for your applications and ensure that you have completed everything necessary, and have met all internal and external deadlines. Please keep your teachers updated throughout the process.

Oh, and one last thing!

12.         Prepare for life beyond school

Now is the time to develop greater independence. Living away from home can be a daunting prospect, so prepare yourself for the skills needed to live alone, such as learning to cook, do laundry and budget effectively.

This is such an exciting period. With excellent preparation, hard work and resilience, you are well on your way to making a successful transition to Higher Education.


Claire Cecil is the Head of Higher Education and Careers for Rugby School Thailand. If you would like to find out more about our Senior School and learn more about how we can help with the preparation for higher education, speak with our admissions team: enquiries@rugbyschool.ac.th

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