The basics
Study abroad : Applying to University

Applying online: Dos and Don'ts

Read our guide of things to and not to do when applying to a university abroad online. Including tips for avoiding procrastination, as well as what to do to prevent your work being lost due to technical issues.

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Applying through our i-Apply service simplifies the process of applying to study overseas. However, you must still be in the correct mindframe when sitting down to go through this. In fact, when sitting down to do anything related to applying to study an institution (domestic or international), you should ensure that you are 100% focused on the task at hand. If you aren't, you risk making mistakes in your application, omitting information which will delay your application and making the wrong choices.


Below are a few things you should and should NOT do when applying online...

DO have all necessary important documents closeby 

This way, you don't have to keep getting up to look for these, slowing down your progress. These will include academic transcripts of previous grades and language test results. Read our checklist of essential documents which you're likely to need. DO this well before you plan to complete your application, in case you need to send off for a particular document you don't have. DO NOT wait until close to the deadline to begin your application. If you require more time to wait for documents to arrive, you risk missing the deadline date.


DO complete your application with your parents

It's always useful to have your family to turn to for advice and guidance. Even if they haven't studied abroad themselves, they can still offer their thoughts and come up with things you forget to consider. Plus, it removes a lot of stress if you feel like you have to go through the process on your own – you've probably completed very few important applications like this, whereas your parents will be quite used to this. Including them in your decision-making means that they also feel involved, and even be convinced to let you go abroad if they are not already entirely happy with your decision.


DO save your work

At the end of every stage, you'll be prompted to save where you are, so you can return to complete your application later – that way you can break up the application process into more manageable chunks. Get into the habit of clicking 'Save' every 5 minutes or so. If your internet connection is disrupted, or your computer has a technical issue, you might lose all the work you've done upto that point, which is a lot of time gone to waste.


DO NOT have Facebook open in another tab

In fact, don't have any other social media, news or shopping sites open which aren't related to your application. These will only distract you and slow down your process. Similarly, DO NOT complete your application while watching television or something online. If you're not paying attention, not only will your application suffer but you are more likely to make mistakes and take longer to complete this.


DO write down any log-in information

While recovering your password for an online account or profile is relatively simple, doing so can disrupt your work flow and make you more likely to procrastinate. If you go to your email to recover your password, you may get caught up browsing your emails instead. Have a go-to default password and/or structure which others would have a hard time guessing. That way, you don't have a completely different password to remember for every site or profile you log in to online (which can be a lot).


DO write extensive answers in Microsoft Word

If you write these in the online application itself and there is a technical problem, you may lose all your work. There's nothing more frustrating than getting a really brilliant answer down on the page in front of you, only to lose it. Plus, MS Word has Spellcheck to ensure what you write is correct in its spelling, grammar and punctuation – if you don't check this, your application will be considered of a poor quality and a representation of you as a candidate. So copy and paste paragraphs from MS Word into your application. Also, do not use Google as a spellchecker; this may provide American English spellings when you want the British spelling. However, DO NOT copy and paste the same answers across different applications to different courses/universities. You should tailor each answer to that course/institution, so your passion comes through in what you write; this is impossible to do if you are giving very broad answers, without specifics.


Found a course you want to apply to? Apply now through our i-Apply service - it's quick, easy and ensures you have the best chance possible of being successful.

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About Author

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Paul Ellett is the editor for Hotcourses Abroad. His role is to plan, produce and share editorial, videos, infographics, eBooks and any other content to inform prospective and current international students about their study abroad experience. When he's not thinking about student visas in Sweden and application deadlines, Paul is an avid fan of comedy podcasts and Nicolas Cage films.

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