Vicky Peace, who works in the Data and Communications team within Outreach and Widening Participation explains our online application system.
Last year the University’s Outreach and Widening Participation team embarked on an exciting (and terrifying) journey into the realms of online application forms…
After a successful first round of applications to the programmes last year, we listened to our stakeholders: young people applying, the teachers completing their supporting statements and outreach staff. As a result, we have given the online application form an upgrade!
In this blogpost, we want to share a bit about what the system can do for people thinking about, or already wanting to apply to, one of the University’s Outreach Programmes for students in Y9 (Discover US) and in Y12 (Discover Pathways).
Why create an online application form?
An online application form helps us make decisions more accurately and efficiently. Previously, we received a mountain of paper applications from students so the virtual process is greener too!. Also, applying through an online application form has advantages for students – not only can mistakes be easily deleted, but the form can link students to all the useful webpages and videos we have to help with applications. An online process also makes it easier for teachers to know when they have an application to review – we ask for this stage in order to get the full picture about the student.
How easy is it to apply?
Really easy! Once a teacher has read our targeting guidelines and selected the students who they feel should apply, all that’s needed is an email address and a secure password. Passwords can be reset if students forget, and email addresses can be changed at any time. We want to make it as straightforward as possible for students to apply; that’s why the application form allows students to start their application, save it, and come back at a later date. Students do have to answer quite a few questions about themselves, but this is so we know more about the students applying and can make more informed decisions. Students can also get in touch with the outreach team at any time and ask for help with the application form or system.
What questions does the form ask?
The outreach programmes are there for students who might not have all the help they need to prepare for applying to university. Because of this, the form does ask about students’ personal circumstances, but we do not share this information with anyone who is unauthorised. It is only used to check that our programmes are right for the students. The form also asks applicants to write a personal statement about why they might want to go to university in the future. This is important as it’s a chance to share with the outreach team reasons for wanting to be accepted on the programme.
What happens after the form is submitted?
The system will send a notification to the programme contact (a teacher at the school the student attends) who fills in a few details. Once this has been completed, outreach staff will assess all the applications and make decisions by the end of the Autumn term. ). If successful, students move into a part of our database we call the Outreach Online Student portal. It is from here where they will access information about activities and events, plus event invitations and reminders will be sent to students’ email accounts.
Good luck to everyone applying this year!
Applications for all our programmes are now open, if you are a student please ask your teacher about the programmes, if you are a teacher please get in touch with the outreach team to see if your school is one of our targets for widening participation activity.
Visit www.sheffield.ac.uk/outreach for more information.