What To Expect: When Applying To University
If you’re in your final year of school or college, you may have the dreaded UCAS deadline burned into your brain. No doubt you’ll be being bombarded with ‘top tips on writing a personal statement’ and ‘how to choose a university’ guides every hour of the day – but one thing you may be surprised to learn is that we can worship and honour God even in our university applications.
Read on to discover how a few of our seasoned uni-goers kept their eyes on Jesus when applying to university and how being Christ-minded can keep application-stress low and help you focus on God’s plan for your life. MP Team x
This was the first time I’d taken my future into my hands so it was a brilliant opportunity to learn to trust God, and to remember that He had already carved my future out. One small thing I did to keep my focus on God’s plan was to use a Bible verse as my UCAS password. Every time I logged on I was reassured of God’s hand on my future.
I also mentally named my personal statement my ‘God Statement’! My logic behind this was that God knows me better than I know myself, so I wanted Him to direct it! Practically, this meant praying every time I worked on my statement that God would give me the words to write and to remember the things I was truly interested in. This helped me be as authentic as possible.
Having this mind-set helped me have more peace when choosing my course and university - a big deal when I usually find choosing a meal deal pretty difficult!
Reassurance in God’s plan for you is also such a great gift for equipping you as a steadfast friend. I had to learn to genuinely celebrate my friends’ successes without comparison. This time showed me you can step into the unknown knowing God is holding your hand.
Choosing my degree subject was pretty straightforward. God gave me a passion for sport and I figured if I pursued a degree I loved I’d be more likely to get a job I loved. Choosing a university was a little more difficult. I don’t think I prayed about it half as much as I should have but was content in knowing that God had a plan.
Romans 8:28 was a verse that I kept close to me during my application process:
‘And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.’
The bottom line for me was that I couldn’t really make a wrong decision in God’s eyes. No matter what decisions I made on which university to go to or which subject to apply for or which college to live in, I felt assured that God would use that for good and for his glory. I’ve been called according to His purpose so as long as I am seeking and loving Jesus wholeheartedly, I am fulfilling my purpose as a child of God. The rest will fall into place.
‘And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.’ Colossians 3:17
Applying to university was something that really excited me. I had been looking forward to going to uni for as long as I could remember, most likely because I thought it would be like Legally Blonde in real life (really, this was why I chose to study law…).
Applying to university is a time of mixed emotions: big decisions, uncertainty, hard work, change, excitement. For me, there’s one verse that really sticks in my mind when I’m thinking about the future or uncertainty that lies ahead:
‘"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”’ Jeremiah 29:11
No matter what, we can trust in a God who knows the plans He has for us, and plans to give us a hope and a future. When trying to decide what to do, or which path we should follow this verse is an incredible encouragement that the God of the entire universe cares about our future and gives us the greatest hope. So we can step out in faith and leave our anxieties in his hands.
We can pursue the path that He has for us, because God goes ahead of us, He knows what we’ll face and He is bigger than any situation we’ll ever face.
Having done the hundredth draft of my personal statement, I submitted my UCAS application at the earliest possible date, absolutely determined to get into the best university possible. Obsessed with perfect grades and those golden offers, I was kept awake most nights worrying about being ‘clever enough’ and fearing rejection.
My priorities were all wrong! I hadn’t truly surrendered the application process to God. Like everything else in life, God is completely in control of our applying to university. It’s a great thing to aim high and be ambitious, as long as we remember that “although we make our plans, God will determine our steps.” (Proverbs 16:9).
If I could go back to my 17 year old self now, I would try to trust fully in the promise of Psalm 138:8: “the Lord will fulfil His purpose for me.” God didn’t fail me in providing me an amazing university experience (though totally not in the way I hoped or expected!) – and He hasn’t failed me yet. Trust in Him all the way! He will fulfill His purpose for you.
‘Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.’ (Romans 12:12)
Upon being given the dreaded UCAS folder, hundreds of questions flooded my mind: where should I apply? What if my grades weren’t high enough? How was I going to find time to apply to university with everything else going on? Romans 12:12 is a great reminder of how to be distinctive as a Christian in whatever situation we are in and provides a great way to approach the UCAS process.
‘Be joyful in hope…’: Applying to university is an exciting time and it is great to have hopes and ambitions of where and what you might study.
‘...patient in affliction…’: God’s plans are so much better than ours and so we must be patient in ‘affliction’ – even when perhaps we don’t get the predicted grades we wanted or we get rejected from our first choice university. But remember that God already knows all about your situation and that ‘...in all things God works for the good of those who love him.’ (Romans 8:28)
‘...faithful in prayer.’: As you begin to pick universities, pray that the choices you make about what to study and where to go might honour Jesus and bring Him glory. Pray continuously throughout the processes and challenges that come with applying to university.