Sunday, 4 October 2015

Applying For Economics At University


Applying for economics at university? From someone who has just finished the process of university applications, here are the 5 things you need to do to give you an edge when applying for economics.

1. KNOW THE COURSE.
It's most essential to know exactly what it is that you are applying for. Economics at university is quite a different beast to most A-Level Econ courses, and this is something many applicants fail to recognise. Maths is incredibly important, that's why it's a compulsory A-Level for most Econ courses, but you have to make sure you're comfortable with doing a lot of it: many people (including myself) underestimate the dominance of maths-based work in an Economics degree.

Make sure you read up the syllabi (yes, that really is the plural of syllabus) of whichever universities you are applying for. Look at the units offered, and make sure that there are sufficiently interesting units at whichever universities you want to apply to. Not only does lacking interest in the course reduce your chances of getting admissions to give you a place, but even if you do get in, you don't want to suffer 3 years studying topics you lack interest in.

2. READ.
You probably know the importance of reading outside of the literature prescribed by your school/college, to note in your Personal Statement and discuss in any interviews. But remember, as admissions officers work through piles of cookie-cutter Personal Statements, you want to leave a lasting impression on them.

Saying you've read Freakonomics will not do this.

For sure, it's an excellent book that I would recommend to anyone, but the fact is that it's so popular that it shows off little about your interest in economics.

So find your own, lesser-known books to discuss. These don't have to as formal as academic papers, but there are plenty of economists who write superb literature. If you have a particular interest in a certain area of economics, browse around on Amazon to see what's out there. Putting a more obscure book (that is still from a credible source) will be likely to impress an admissions officer more, as it will highlight you using more of your own intuition.

3. ANALYSE, DON'T JUST STATE.
It's very easy to just regurgitate the outline of any books you've read in your PS, but, again, this would not be a particularly spectacular display of your passion for economics.

You need to ensure that your repetitions of the author's messages are brief, and your own, original analysis and commentary is longer. In this process, universities care more about what you, as a potential student, think than any author.

A way in which you can ensure you are analysing as well as stating is by using a method often ignored when it comes to the PS by many people: the PEE method. That is:

Point

Explain

Evaluate

There's a reason why the last 'E' appears the biggest- because that's how much attention you must give it compared to the others.

4. APPLY EARLY.
Applying early is a great idea for everyone- not just if you're applying to Oxford or Cambridge. Remember, the sooner your application has been sent off, the sooner your time will be freed up to pursue things like a social life, or sports- or, most importantly, the exams that are coming up in the summer!

Also, applying early can give you advantages in the application process. Some (not all) universities deal with applications as they arrive. This gives a slight advantage to candidates who apply earlier, as there are fewer applications to process in October, for example, as opposed to January, when the official deadline for everyone is. This can mean more attention is paid to your application, and also that there may be more available spaces and thus more chance of success for you earlier on in the process.

However, this doesn't mean you should rush your application- do make sure that it is of the highest quality you can make it before finally sending it off.

(Bonus Tip)
Applying to university is a stressful process for most people. But remember, it's one of the most important decisions of your life, one that (hopefully) will allow you to pursue exactly the kind of studies that you want to, rather than being prescribed subjects you may have lacked any interest in. University will also be a gateway to new friends, new surroundings, and new experiences that will influence greatly the person you will become.

So, my final piece of advice would be to work hard to achieve your future goals. Recognise how important and exciting the next future is for you, and ENJOY CREATING IT.
Mohammad Lone Editor