Yes, it's that time of year again: UCAS 2014 applications will go live before the end of June, and most schools worth their salt will be getting candidates registered and planning their personal statements as soon as the AS exams are over.
Give yourself a few days to recover and celebrate when you're done with exams, but then start thinking seriously about your application:
There's lots you can do now to get a head start on other candidates and give yourself the best chance of success. Get advice sooner rather than later.
Teachers: got any last minute pupils and stuck for reference ideas?
Pupils: only just submitted your form and need to give your tutor a nudge?
There's still time for us to give you some guidance if you need to give a student that extra boost. Get in touch! Here's a video from UCAS to help…
Our interactive book, entitled 'How to get into University - A complete guide to UK university applications, including a personal statement planner and video tutorials' will be available in iBooks in the New Year. Watch this space for news and previews of the material. Join our mailing list to get advance notification of publication.
It will be packed with advice to take you through the whole UCAS process, and quick and easy-to-watch videos to guide you through the labyrinth of UCAS terminology.
Recommended reading for anyone in Year 11 or 12 (5th Form or 6th Form) who wants to go to uni. Tell your parents to get it as well - there's plenty of advice for them too!
If you're in the 5th Form and aiming to go to the leading universities in the UK, you are probably worrying more about your GCSEs at the moment, but fairly soon you should consider thinking through your A level or Scottish Higher choices. Here's a short video from the Russell Group (a group of 24 leading universities, often the pretty ones that your parents think it would be nice to go to). They do offer some sound advice on what they call 'facilitating subjects' - that is subjects that help you to keep your options open.
Article on the iniquities of the current system in today's Telegraph:
'Admissions tutors clearly do see through Personal Statements that are 'the work of more than one mind' to use the phrase of an Oxford admissions tutor we spoke to: to a certain extent it is expected, but a pre-fabricated response is certainly dangerous and will be caught out by UCAS similarity detection software. What the independent sector offers, or should offer, is tailored guidance on not just the Personal Statement, but the whole application: where to apply with a particular set of predictions, how to balance the academic and extra-curricular in the statement in relation to particular universities, how to demonstrate proper reflection on work experience, whatever the experience may be, rather than simply listing 'stuff I have done', how to find the right course and university and appropriate insurance choices if things go wrong on results day. I work in an independent school where we go out of our way to give the best quality advice, which might very well be not what the candidate or their parents want to hear. We also get a lot of pupils from other schools (sometimes other independent schools) who are not offered the same level of support - but it is support with the whole process, and definitely not a Personal Statement writing service. In fact we've just sent back a statement that was clearly written by someone else.'
Here's some food for thought. For a combination of reasons (for example, Unis wanting overseas fees, less funding at Unis leading to lecturers and whole departments being culled, etc) there is immense competition at the top end UK university courses. Just look at the applications to acceptance ratios for top courses at the best Unis.
Your personal statement needs to be better than ever. It's not too late to start for 2013 and it's the right time to be planning for 2014. Check out our advice and extended services for improve your chances.
In the meantime, check out these links:
Cambridge interview dates have been out for a week or two. Oxford have sent out some rejections, but are infuriatingly late in telling you when you are wanted for interview. You may be panicking but the text below is taken from their website - you should hear any day now:
Have I been shortlisted?Towards the end of November or in early December you will receive an email or a letter indicating whether or not you have been invited for interview. Please note you may not receive this email or letter until a week before the interviews are due to take place. If you have been invited, the letter will include practical details of your interview and further information.
And here's a link to the timetable again: http://www.ox.ac.uk/admissions/undergraduate_courses/how_to_apply/interviews/interview_timetable.html
University applications figures are out. They make for interesting reading. Numbers are down, but the top end (courses asking for ABB and above) will be as competitive as ever. I wonder how many more Unis will be forced to scrap courses? Check out the Guardian article on this: http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2012/nov/28/university-applications-uk-students-down-ucas
Getting ready for your interview at Oxford or Cambridge?
A few things to remember:
1. Revise your AS an A2 work: as a bare minimum you should feel comfortable talking about the work you have already covered, should know the key concepts from the syllabus and should be ready to explore any works you claim to have studied for your A levels.
2. Re-read your personal statement! You may have written it a couple of months ago, but if you said you read Plato's Republic or Baudelaire's Les Fleurs du Mal you'd better be able to prove it. Anything you claim familiarity with in a personal statement should be a nice, easy way for the interviewers to get you started. Make sure it is.
3. Make sure you are reading something NOW and are prepared to talk about that too. A novel, a science book, history, the Economist, the New Scientist, just show you are engaging with a world beyond Facebook updates of your best friend pouting in a nightclub.
4. Make eye contact. Shake hands.
6. Think before you answer.
7. If you don't understand a question, don't be afraid to ask for clarification.
8. When you've finished answering, don't feel you have to keep talking until they interrupt. Say your piece then stop.
9. They are testing your ability to argue logically and coherently: if you find you've changed your mind as a result of the direction of questioning, that's OK - say so. Don't just cave in the moment they challenge you, but on the other hand, if you do modify your position in the face of overwhelming argument, that's OK, it shows you're intellectually flexible and teachable.
10 GOOD LUCK
See the link below for sample questions for a range of subjects from Oxford.
Get me into Uni Blog
Regular updates on everything to do with Higher Education: from live updates from UCAS conferences to timely reminders of deadlines and interview tips.