HE: Oxbridge and other Unis

(118 Posts)
Crummymum Fri 16-Nov-12 11:33:26

Hello,

I'm looking to home ed my DS at secondary level (in a year's time). I'm just starting to investigate the ins and outs of this, but I was talking with an Oxford-educated friend of mine about this and he said that Oxbridge don't like home educated children and usually won't take them. Is this true? And what is their rationale? My DC may not want to study there when they reach that stage, but I wouldn't like to think I'd reduced their options.

Also, how do universities in general feel about exams being taken 1,2,3 at a time, rather than 9 or so GCSE's or 3 A'levels all being taken in one year?

Any advice would be really appreciated smile

MulledWineOnTheBusLady Fri 16-Nov-12 17:44:21

Sorry, I realise I made it sound like I'm denying other people's experience. All I mean is that while somebody might have got in chiefly because they wrote a brilliant essay which really impressed the tutors, they still will have had to go through the same process everybody else did - application, interview etc. When the interview season comes round I think tutors probably have a rough idea who they think is a "definite" and who they think is a "maybe" - and there may be surprises both ways of course.

sieglinde Fri 16-Nov-12 18:00:32

Hi, I'm an Oxford admissions tutor, though obviously only one of many.

My own ds and dd were homeschooled for some of the time. So NO prejudice.

However, you do need the same academic outcomes as people educated otherwise, i.e. lots of GCSEs (ideally 8 or more) and also AS levels. I'm afraid nobody would get interviewed nowadays without any credentials, however clever they are.

Good luck!

mummytime Belgium Fri 16-Nov-12 18:02:11

Imperial College have this on their qualifications page:Admission of students with other competencies
Although passes in the requisite GCSE, O level and A level examinations of the General Certificate of Education represent an almost indispensable background to the courses offered by Imperial College London, applications will be welcomed from suitably motivated and experienced candidates who can demonstrate the required competencies but do not possess the usual qualifying examinations.

I know one HE girl, who was at Durham, she did do A'levels at a sixth form college though; however at the same time there was another girl who had been HEd all the way through and didn't have standard A'levels or GCSEs. (This was pretty recent by the way.)

seeker Fri 16-Nov-12 18:27:36

So what people are saying is that it is remotely possible, but not likely that you could get into q RG university without the required qualifications. But you would have to be pretty bloody exceptional to do it.

So jump through the right hoops at the right time. It's a pain in the arse that you have to, but it's even more of a pain in th arse to discover that you're up against a brick wall for want of a GCSE in maths.

mummytime Belgium Sat 17-Nov-12 07:31:55

Most HE's that I know do GCSEs, although often not all at once, often some very early, and then added to. Admittedly most I know personally have then gone on to sixth form college. But they have done very well, and it has seemed as though they received more offers because of their HE background than their friends. HE does show an ability to study alone, and to be self motivated, which makes for a good student.

exoticfruits Sat 17-Nov-12 07:41:22

I know someone who got to Cambridge after being HEd and without formal qualifications but I think it dangerous to put him forward as an example of the norm when he was exceptional.
I would say that taking the exams over a period of time was a huge disadvantage but can't see why you couldn't take them together. The cost is going to be nothing in comparison to the cost of university!

exoticfruits Sat 17-Nov-12 07:44:25

It just makes life much simpler to jump through the right hoops at the right time to ensure all doors are open. I can't see why you would want to make life more difficult. 9 GCSEs taken together at 16 ought to be a doddle if you are aiming for Oxbridge - so why not just do it?

sieglinde Sat 17-Nov-12 08:01:49

Final thought; some US universities are very keen on HE. Princeton has a whole section on its website (and lots of bursary money...). Also non-Uk qualifications are sometimes easier to sort for HE. EG US Advanced Placement classes can be done over the web. In the UK, some universities accept Open University instead of A-Levels.

seeker Sat 17-Nov-12 08:07:57

But honestly, do all you can to make sure they have as many bits of paper as possible. For every admissions tutor or employer who thinks "ah, HE, that's interesting!" there will be at least one who thinks "hmm- HE- that looks as if it might be a bit tricky- NEXT!"

SDeuchars Sat 17-Nov-12 08:31:15

exoticfruits wrote:
The cost is going to be nothing in comparison to the cost of university!
9 GCSEs taken together at 16 ought to be a doddle if you are aiming for Oxbridge - so why not just do it?
Because home education is about more than exams and we don't necessarily want to spend the best part of 30 hours a week for two years doing (often soul-destroying) GCSE work.

[Although I would not expect most potential university students to take that amount of time to prepare for most GCSEs. My DS is doing AS maths in January, having started college in Sept (never having been to school or taken GCSE maths), and he has moved from the D/C boundary on his first past paper attempt to the C/B boundary on his second. Many HEers do a GCSE from a standing start in about 6-8 months.]

As to cost, some exam centres charge over £100 per GCSE. That could mean £1000 from a year's family budget (for only one child). University is not a sensible comparison - there are very low-cost student loans available and the student does not start to repay until they start to earn over the threshold amount.

exoticfruits Sat 17-Nov-12 08:50:42

I still agree with seeker-if you know they need bits of paper it makes sense to just get them.

Because home education is about more than exams and we don't necessarily want to spend the best part of 30 hours a week for two years doing (often soul-destroying) GCSE work.
Surely you can do it in an interesting way? You could do your own thing in the day and go to evening classes. My friend sent her DSs into school just to do the exams they wanted-on a flexi basis-they then didn't have to pay.

exoticfruits Sat 17-Nov-12 08:53:50

You have to allow for the fact that admission tutors and employers are like the rest of society-some will be prejudiced against HE and are much more likely to look upon it favourably if it comes with the correct qualifications rather than saying 'we didn't want to waste our time with soul destroying work' when all university courses and jobs will have an element of it.

exoticfruits Sat 17-Nov-12 08:55:57

I just know that if I was doing it I would find out what was needed and wouldn't take the risk of not having it-I have heard too many stories of people who didn't and have been handicapped in later life-or had to do it much later when they could have just done it easily at the time.

bruffin England Sat 17-Nov-12 09:39:23

Because home education is about more than exams and we don't necessarily want to spend the best part of 30 hours a week for two years doing (often soul-destroying) GCSE work.

If you got that attitude to education, you shouldnt be going to university in the first place. Why should universities make exception for HE children if they cant be bothered to do the work thousand of other equally capable students have spent the time doing, even if it is boring sometimes.

exoticfruits Sat 17-Nov-12 09:51:11

Because home education is about more than exams and we don't necessarily want to spend the best part of 30 hours a week for two years doing (often soul-destroying) GCSE work.

I actually resent that statement deeply because it gives the impression that exams are for the drone like majority,it is OK for them to follow a syllabus and do the hard graft, but the HE is a free spirit-above the mundane-and they can do their own thing and then waltz in saying 'I'm just the sort of person you need and don't need proof-just talk to me!'

Universities are about exams these days-you could do lots of other things and end up with a perfectly respectable 2:2 degree-now you need to keep your head down and do the work to pass the exams. DS worked so hard he didn't even get home at Easter.

Perhaps you could by pass that too and persuade employers that you are just what they need because you didn't want to bother with things you didn't like and exams.

exoticfruits Sat 17-Nov-12 09:54:17

I still think about one HEers blog saying 'how excited she is for the possibilities for her unschooled DDs'-the poor woman hasn't a clue!! The real world is hard-even those who have jumped through every hoop at the right time, with fantastic results can't get jobs. There are about 50 applicants for every graduate job.

seeker Sat 17-Nov-12 09:59:21

"Because home education is about more than exams and we don't necessarily want to spend the best part of 30 hours a week for two years doing (often soul-destroying) GCSE work."

if you need to spend 30 should destroying hours a week for two years preparing a child for 9 GCSE exams, might I respectfully suggest that you are doing HE wrong.

SarkyWench Sat 17-Nov-12 10:45:54

I think that the main problem faced by HE children is not that admissions tutor may be predjudiced against HE (although I accept that may happen), but more that IME most unis are shifting towards "criterion based admissions" in which the early stages of the admissions process (if not all of it) is done by admissions administrators rather than academics using a rigidly specified set of criteria. Exceptions can still be made for applicants with less conventional CVs, but IMO these are likely to be increasingly rare.

SarkyWench Sat 17-Nov-12 10:48:03

That was a bit jargony. Sorry.
My point is that for popular courses there is now very likely to be a stage in the process I which an admin person does some very simple checking of GCSEs etc and anyone who doesn't tick all the boxes will likely be rejected.

bruffin England Sat 17-Nov-12 10:57:28

I was at an award ceremony a couple of weeks back for an engineering scholarship . There were over a 300 yr 12s, mostly with 10,11 or.12 A/A* . One boy had 14 A* all with plenty of extra curricular interests. These would have been taken at 1 sitting. These are the children that are competing for RG places. So to turn up and say I couldn't be bothered to do the work but give me a place anyway is an insult.

DartmoorMama Sat 17-Nov-12 11:19:43

From what I understand, spreading GCSEs over several years is not really an issue. It's common for really bright, Oxbridge intelligence level kids to do this as they may take some subjects early due to ability. However it's really important for A levels to be taken in the same sitting as part of doing that is showing you can cope with the workload.

There is a lot of nonsense going around about entrance to top universities. I do believe they will be able to discern academic talent on a student to student basis, and it's worth going straight to the Uni and asking them directly about your case.

Welovecouscous Sat 17-Nov-12 11:22:07

I know what you mean, sarky. Some unis rarely read the personal statements any more.

I was at Oxbridge in the 90s with a home ed undergrad brought up in a commune. They went to local fe college for 6th form and had done a levels

DartmoorMama Sat 17-Nov-12 11:25:08

I also meant to add I do know several children who have gone on to Russell group unis after Home ed or mixed home ed and school. This includes the kid who did his maths and biology GCSEs at 12 and then spent a few years adding GCSEs before returning to a private school for his A level's. He has had zero issues with entry because he was part home educated. That was for entry this academic year.

mummytime Belgium Sat 17-Nov-12 12:32:33

Sleglinde - as an admissions tutor, would you look at someone with OU credits instead of A'levels? Or even A'levels and GCSEs?

mummytime Belgium Sat 17-Nov-12 12:34:56

Oh and Sarky would you then reject all pupils of Bedales, because they only do 5 GCSEs, and by you I mean you administration team.

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