Applying for university as a private candidate can sometimes be overwhelming, stressful and confusing. You don’t fit the mould of a ‘normal’ student, and you don’t have a school guiding you through the process. As a private candidate myself, I know the struggle. So here is a quick and easy guide on some of the most important things a private candidate should remember when applying through UCAS.
Be sure of all your deadlines
When you are part of a school, they will normally keep you informed on all the important deadlines, whether internal or external. You might not have that luxury as a homeschooled student. But that’s not at all a problem, as everything you need to know is online.
Make sure that well in advance, you write down all the important application deadlines relevant to you. This includes, but isn’t limited to:
- The deadlines for registering for admissions tests
- The deadlines for completing admissions tests
- The deadline for submitting your application
On top of this, you should set your own internal timelines. For example:
- The date which you start working on your personal statement
- The deadline for when you finish your personal statement
- The deadline for receiving predicted grades and your teacher reference
- The date which you start preparing for any admissions test (if you have any)
As a private candidate, you need to do this in order to stay on track and make sure everything gets done.
Plan how you are going to obtain predicted grades and a teacher reference
This one was a real obstacle for me, and I hope to help you avoid my mistakes. How does a home schooled student obtain predicted grades unless they do school online? It’s a tough one.
For me, I decided to reach out to the school I used to attend (and that my siblings still attended), and ask for help. Essentially, a few teachers sent me a series of tests in my A-level subjects, which I completed and sent back. Based on my performance, they sent me predicted grades. I also did one of my subjects with an online homeschooling program. If this sounds like it might be an option for you, I highly recommend it. Predicted grades coming from an ‘official’ school is much more credible.
However, arguably the best option would be enrolling with an online homeschooling program, as they are well equipped to handle private candidates.
But maybe you have another way that you would like to get predicted grades, perhaps from your home tutors. If you aren’t sure how viable this is, don’t hesitate to email the universities you are interested in to ask them. At the end of the day, they will be the ones making the decision whether to admit you, so they know best. Additionally, they have your best interest.
As for the teacher reference, choose wisely who you are going to ask. Don’t ask a parent. Whoever sends in the reference should preferably have an official school email, i.e [email protected], not [email protected] This is something you will have to consider early on, as there should be someone with an official educational position that knows you well enough as a student to be able to write a reference for you.
The most important tip, however, is to start planning this as early as possible. You don’t want to find yourself a month before the application deadline at a loss as to how you are going to muster up reliable predicted grades!
Be prepared with the details of your exam centre
First things first, as I am sure you know, you will need to register at an exam centre to write your final exams. Do this early on so that its out of the way, and you don’t have to worry about it. This should not be a problem as there are plenty of exam centres that accept private candidates.
When putting in your grades and subject qualifications (including pending ones), you will need to include the details of the exam centre, so have these at hand. There isn’t an option to click that indicates you’re a private candidate so instead:
- Select the exam centre
- Specify your ‘time of attendance’ as the period of exams, for example, May-June 2019
- Select PT (part time)
While this doesn’t explicitly indicate that you are a private candidate, admissions officers will see this and understand what it means.
If you were involved with an online school, you can include them as well as the dates you attended. If not, then don’t worry, you don’t have to list any schools besides the exam centre.
You don’t need a buzzword
You may have heard this term thrown around before. Don’t worry, you don’t need it. When students apply through schools, their school provides a buzzword to use as a part of the application. You don’t need one, and it doesn’t put your application at a disadvantage.
In conclusion, don’t panic! There is no reason that you can’t have an excellent application as a private candidate. All it takes is some preparation. Good luck!