Applying to university
- What was the most difficult thing for you when you applied to university?
The personal statement was the most difficult thing for me because I only got one chance to impress 5 different admissions teams at 5 different universities. King’s has a pretty good video explaining how you could write a good statement here. In addition, UCAS guidance is interesting as well.
My tip for writing a personal statement is simple – draft it, write it, read it, and write it again. I must have drafted my statement multiple times before I was happy with it! As English is not my mother tongue, I also asked my teachers to proofread my essay and improve it based on their feedback.
Additionally, make sure you do not write more than allowed – UCAS would automatically cut your statement at 4,000 characters.
Also, it is worth start drafting the statement early, perhaps in the summer before your final year of school, so that you are not rushed during the year.
- How did you go about choosing your 5 UCAS choices?
The biggest factor for me was the academic programme and how flexible I could be with my career choice (see above). I also looked at university rankings.
The problem with university rankings is that they use different criteria, which makes massive different in rankings of different universities. My advice – no ranking is better than another. You should take them with a grain of salt. If you could visit the university, great! If you can’t, try to get in touch with the marketing team or an alumni and ask them for more information. King’s regularly visits different countries throughout the year as well.
Going to King’s College London
- What was your biggest challenge when you first joined King’s?
I was really worried that I wouldn’t be able to understand the English accent and people wouldn’t understand my confusing European / American / Vietnamese accent. Thankfully I was proven wrong.
One of the first things I realised was that there was a lot of independent study which was very different from how I used to study in high school. I only went to lectures* and tutorials** for about 12 hours a week in my first year (this got progressively larger as I moved forward in my degree however). The rest of the time was doing compulsory readings and preparing for tutorials. My lecturers and tutors had office hours where students could come in and ask questions.
*Lectures – you sit together with every student in your course. I was overwhelmed in my first lecture because my cohort had over 200 students! Lectures are usually 2 hours with a break in between. The lecturers speak and you take notes.
**Tutorials – you are assigned into tutorials of 20-30 students. I was often given a reading or a worksheet to do. You are expected to participate in tutorials. I have realised that international students often do not speak much in tutorials. It could be a bit awkward and embarrassing initially, but it got much better. And it feels really good when the lecturer / tutor knows your name as well!