Applying to college

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Once you've chosen the course and college that you're interested in, you'll need to put some thought into your application. You don't want to make mistakes, miss out important information or even miss the deadline!

How to apply

For most courses, you apply direct to each college you are interested in. The typical process involves a few steps and doesn't differ too much between colleges. Usually:


There are some exceptions where you should apply for courses through UCAS (the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service).

When to apply

It’s a good idea to apply early. Apply before March for courses starting in August and by November for courses starting in January. Most colleges deal with applications on a first come first served basis, so apply as early as you can. It is possible to make a late application, but many courses could already be full.

For the exceptions mentioned earlier about higher education courses with Scotland's Rural College (SRUC) and the acedemic partners of the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI), applications for entry in 2022 should reach UCAS between 7 September 2021 and 26 January 2022.

Filling in the college form

Depending on the college, you might fill in a form using an online application system or download an application form from the college website, complete it and send it to the college.

Some colleges have online forms that need to be completed in one sitting, so it's useful to have all the information you need to hand. This usually includes:

You will usually need to write a short personal statement setting out why you want to do the course and why you think you are suitable (this is the bit where you sell yourself!). You should get your personal statement ready before you apply. Prepare a draft version as a Word document and then cut and paste it into the online application form.

Other colleges allow you to create a login so that you can complete different sections of the form at different times and save your progress as you go.

Remember to use a sensible email address for setting up the account for the online application system.   

Whatever type of form you use remember to check it over to make sure you haven't missed anything out or made any mistakes.

It's also useful to keep a copy of the form or a note of the information that you have included in an online form. If you go for an interview you don't want an embarrassing moment where you can't remember what you put on your form!

Where can you get more information?

Visit the college website or phone them to ask for a prospectus or specific course information. Careers libraries in schools, colleges and local Skills Development Scotland Centres also have prospectuses available for reference.

It's a good idea to go along to the college open day and local careers exhibitions. You may find that your school or college organises group visits to these events. Check out our Upcoming Events Calendar, which has details of open days and other useful events.

Also look out for the book ‘Careers in Scotland’, published by Gateway Shared Services. Most schools, colleges and local libraries will have a copy.

Remember that you can talk to your career adviser, guidance or pastoral care teacher or student adviser about which course is right for you.

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