It's also time to get year 12 thinking about their choices. Most universities have their open days around this time and heading to these is the best way of choosing a course and university.
The first choice to make is what subject to study. Courses for the same subject vary between different universities, so it's important that students do their research.
Once they've picked the subject area and a few courses they are interested in, it's time to visit. It's best if students pick their top three universities and courses and just visit those - if they take too much time out of school or college then it could affect their exam results.
Before they go to any open days, encourage your students to think of questions to ask lecturers and students - it's the best way to find out more about the course and what life at that university is like. It's also important that students think of practicalities: if they don't want to go to a university near their home town, how will they get there and back every term? What are living costs like in the university town?
Over the summer
It's a good idea for students to get a headstart on their UCAS applications before and during the summer break. Most of the online form can be filled in and saved easily, and you might like to ask for draft personal statements to be submitted before the holidays.
It's really important that your students understand the point of their personal statement. As most universities and courses don't interview, the personal statement is the only way admissions tutors will be able to see evidence of a student's interest in and suitability for the course.
- Students should focus the first two-thirds on academic interests and reasons for wanting to study the course, and the last third on extra-curricular activities supporting their interest.
- Give evidence: they need to make it clear why they like the subject and want to study it at a higher level, and prove it with any extra reading or activities they've done to further their interest.
- Reading: encourage your students to read into their chosen subject, for example basic introductory texts from the first year reading list, medical journals or magazines such as The Economist. Make sure they have actually read and understand anything they mention in their personal statement!
- Other interests: universities want to know about the people they're admitting and how they might fit into university life. Some qualities such as leadership, time management and working with others are crucial for courses like medicine and might be gained through extra-curricular activities like sports.
Personal statements can be tricky to write and a recent report from the Sutton Trust showed that teachers' views on what makes a good personal statement can be very different from those of university admissions tutors. Don't let your students waste time defining their subject or using flowery language - anyone who consults a thesaurus for other words for 'enthusiastic' needs to stop! Admissions tutors have so many applications to look through that they have very little time to spend on each individual personal statement - so help your students make it clear, to the point and convincing.
Check out our University Applications app - it's got loads of questions to help your students make their choices and links to all the information they'll need. Also available on the Play and App stores.