Maximise your chances of application success!
Check the Details
Before you even start your application, make sure you meet the minimum eligibility criteria. These are listed on STEM Boost for each opportunity, and should also be explained in detail on the provider's website. Here are a few things to double-check:
- Application deadlines - most providers have fixed application deadlines, whereas some review applications as they are received throughout the year (for the latter, the sooner you get your application in the better!). Although occasionally the deadline will be extended if there are insufficient applicants, don't rely on this!
- Essential criteria vs preferential criteria - the former MUST be met (usually a particular year group or A level subjects) whereas applications meeting one or more of the latter will be given priority. If you don't meet all (or any) of the preferential criteria you are still welcome to apply, just make sure every other part of your application stands out.
- Dates and locations of the opportunity - can you actually attend if you were offered a place? Don't forget to check with parents/ guardians regarding holiday plans and school term dates!
Motivational Statement Tips
You will usually be asked to explain why you are interested in the opportunity. We recommend considering:
- How the programme would provide additional insight beyond what you have learnt at school (e.g. the real world applications of your subject)
- How the programme would support your current and future studies
- Any additional skills you would learn, for example coding skills or using specialist scientific equipment
- Whether the programme will help you make important decisions, for example on A level subject choices
- Why you enjoy studying particular subjects at school
- What other activities you have done (insight days, competitions, projects, etc.) to demonstrate your interest in your favourite subjects outside of school
- Any other achievements or activities which demonstrate useful transferable skills (e.g. being on a school sports team would demonstrate teamwork skills)
Remember, they not only want to know how you could benefit from the opportunity, but also what you will bring to the team. Summer schools and related opportunities usually involve a teamwork or project work - so they need enthusiastic students who can work well with others.
While ensuring the content of your answers is important, the way in which you communicate this is just as vital. Poor quality writing suggests you couldn't be bothered to put the time and effort into your application - not the best first impression! Here are our top tips:
- Always illustrate any personality/ skill claims with evidence - e.g. don't just say "I am a good team player", instead mention your involvement in a school sports team
- Use the STAR technique to describe previous experiences: Situation, Task, Action, Result
- Situation: brief summary of the experience ("For my extended project qualification...")
- Task: explain what you had to do ("I produced a robotic car which could independently navigate around obstacles")
- Action: what action did you take to complete the task successfully? ("I taught myself basic programming, researched machine learning theories, and thoroughly tested the robotic car")
- Result: what did you achieve? ("My robotic car successfully completed a series of obstacle courses and won second prize in the National Robotics Challenge")
- Get a parent/ guardian/ teacher to double-check your application for spelling, punctuation and grammar errors
- Keep it concise without too much 'waffle' - don't feel a need to meet the word limit
- Try and avoid starting every sentence with "I" because it gets very repetitive, instead use action words ("Completing an independent project taught me...") or time/ place descriptions ("At the xyz summer school, I...")
- Have a good mix of sentence structures and lengths