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College Countdown: Personal Statement, U.K. Colleges, and More!

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July 2018 Newsletter

We’re already halfway through summer break and college application season is in full swing! Keep reading for tips on writing your personal statement and applying to college in the U.K.


The College Essay: Your Dreams, Your Stories, Your Voice

Personal statements give admissions officers the chance to truly see you. A strong essay can make you stand out among tens of thousands of applicants and help an admissions officer remember who you are and why you belong on their campus.

Arete’s counselors believe that the best college essays go beyond summarizing your resume. Here are some pointers to remember when crafting your personal statement:

  • Be Authentic.Write from a place of truth, rather than what you think admissions officers want to read. Your essay will simply read better if it is honest. Plus, admissions officers can smell pandering from a mile away.
  • Be Specific.Discuss one particular event or aspect of your life. Remember, you can discuss other areas of your life in your supplements. Set the scene of your story through description and vivid language of setting, character, and feelings. As you draft your essay, take note of distinct ideas that arise to discuss in your supplements.
  • Draw Readers Into Your Story.Paint a picture with words instead of merely laying out facts. Make the reader care about what’s happening to the characters (you!) and curious to know what happens next.
  • Edit, Edit, and Edit Again.Editing is critical—how you write is just as important as what you write. Think about structure: do you grab the reader’s attention immediately? How can you bring all your examples back to your main point at the end? Proofread exhaustively; typos, grammar mistakes, and spelling errors are notacceptable.

    Arete Tip:Use strong, active verbs and demonstrate a solid vocabulary, but don’t show off and replace words with an obscure synonym.

  • Ask for Help.Show your essay to several outside readers. Ask people whose writing skills you trust and afford plenty of time to make suggestions. Finalize your essay with your editors well before application deadlines.

    Nota Bene:We are always asked which books we recommend for college counseling. Our updated website features anonline bookstorethat includes wonderful college planning resources.


Applying to School in the U.K. for Fall 2019 Entry

Aretesends dozens of students to U.K. universities for undergraduate and graduate programs each year. If you are considering applying to school in England, Scotland, Ireland, or Wales this fall, here are a few tips from one of our U.K. College Counselors.

Think Long and Hard About What Subject to Apply For.This is probably the most important decision you will make. One of the key differences when applying to school in the U.K. is that you apply to “read” (study) a specific subject upon arrival, rather than applying to a college or university and choosing your concentration sophomore year. At most English universities, you must commit to studying the subject area you choose over the next four years, whereas Scottish universities are more flexible.

Understand the Application Process. For your top five course/university combinations, solicit a reference from a teacher and submit a personal statement, your past and predicted grades, and any standardized test results through UCAS. Universities may send you “conditional offers,” meaning they will accept you based on your expected future grades. Oxford and Cambridge have separate applications in addition to UCAS; however, you can only apply to one of the two established universities in the same admissions round.

There Are Many Options to Consider in the U.K.The U.K. has a well-deserved reputation for high quality university education, extending far beyond well-known institutions such asOxford, Cambridgeand theLondon School of Economics. For those serious about studying in the U.K., there are a plethora of options to explore. Scottish schools, such as the University of Edinburgh, theUniversity of Glasgow,andSt. Andrews, are at the top of the list; the University College London, University of Warwick, University of Bristol, andDurham Universityare notable institutions as well.

Oxbridge.Oxfordand Cambridgehave their own application process, which is distinct from other schools in the U.K. Both universities have earlier deadlines (October 15) and require you to submit a separate application in addition to UCAS. Depending on what you choose to study, some courses require additional admissions exams or writing samples. Finally, Oxbridge requires an interview. Only candidates with a chance of acceptance will be interviewed, including all international students for whom it’s feasible.

Timeline for U.K. Applications.
Early September: UCAS Applications open.
October 15:Oxford and Cambridge Applications due (submitted through UCAS).
October 19:Cambridge Online Preliminary Application (COPA) due.
October 22:Cambridge Supplementary Application Questionnaire (SAQ) due.
Late October to Early November: Admissions tests for Oxbridge.
November: Written work submitted to Oxbridge, where required.
Early to Mid-December: Oxbridge interviews.
January: Oxbridge decisions made.
January 15:UCAS applications due for the majority of courses.
January 1 to March 31:Offers from non-Oxbridge universities sent.
May 2:Date by which students must accept a University offer.

Call Areteto schedule a consultation, interview and admissions prep with one of our U.K. counselors

Aretein Action: Refugees to Camp

Aretestudents should always look for ways to get involved in their community and gain leadership skills! These opportunities build character, give you a place to stand as well as provide a fantastic boost to your application! If you’re looking for a new organization to get involved with this summer or fall, check out our monthly community service spotlight. This month we are highlightingRefugees To Camp.

Refugees to Camp is a nonprofit organization that places refugee children in sleepaway camps. For two to eight weeks, campers improve their communication skills and experience childhood cornerstones they may have missed out on due to poverty and conflict. You canget involvedby assisting with clothing drives, doctor visits, and support by submittingthis formor emailing


Practice Tests at Arete

Practice tests are a critical component to acing test prep. Areteoffers practice tests at our office for the ISEE, SHSAT, SSAT, ACT, SAT, GRE, GMAT, LSAT, MCAT, TOEFL, and more! All you have to do is call us with your preferred practice test date(s) and show up. We will handle the rest!

Call us today at212.691.1479for more details.


Tutor Spotlight

Kirini K.graduated from Oxford University with a First in Modern History and Politics, coming in fifth in the year across the university. While at Oxford, she was awarded a scholarship for outstanding work in the subject of History. She was also an active member of the Oxford Union, where she served as Chair of Communications Committee and held the position of first-ever Women’s Officer. She was awarded an honorary Master’s from Oxford. She also holds a Master’s in Contemporary Arts from Oxford Brookes. After finishing her degree at Oxford, she worked at Greene’s Tutorial College, Oxford, teaching A-level and IB courses, designing a mentorship program for the school, and working as a university entrance coach, where she guided students through the college application process. She is a specialist in both U.K. and U.S. college counseling, implementing a program of study at Greene’s for students seeking entry to U.K. and U.S. universities and presenting at a conference for college counselors in the U.K. She believes wholeheartedly in the U.K.’s approach to university education and the benefits of cross-cultural connection, and she is always ready to share some of that joy with her students.

Subjects:U.K. College Counseling and Application Writing

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Nikki GeulaCollege Countdown: Personal Statement, U.K. Colleges, and More!

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