www.futurelearn.com/ I think I like the look of this. In our school some of the children, especially those hoping to study medicine, take an open university module on top of their A levels - a bit like an EPQ but more challenging. This initiative, once it gets off the ground in 2013, could provide a good alternative way to demonstrate subject passion (and find out more about whether it is the right subject choice) without extra cost.
Thanks for the link. I wonder though if the best way to demonstrate an interest in say medicine is by going out and getting relevant experience and improving social or life skills rather than piling on more academia.
I don't think there is a doubt that many students are presenting with straight A/A* and are clever enough for the course. I have seen medical students with non existent "soft" skills though.
I would have thought an excellence in music and sport or some other field as well as the academic would be more beneficial.
I have no idea about the academic merit but I would have thought volunteering at a local hospital, in any capacity, would help demonstrate commitment and enthusiasm. It would also give them experience of the environment they might be going into, to check if they have the compassion for the job.
Unfortunately you have quoted the wrong example there, ie medicine.
For medicine they won't want another course, they will want experience with disabled children, care home, hospitals, etc
The academics are covered by the string of As and A* they would be expecting and the right choice of subjects.
For other subjects - it depends on the credibility of what this company are offering - I have never heard of it before - and wouldn't advise my children to use it either, unless it was recommended to them by someone who knows what they are talking about (sorry!).
Futurelearn is a new free open learning initiative being led by the open university. There was an interesting review about it on the education page of the guardian this week. I think it sounds interesting. The name is somewhat off-putting I agree, as it makes it sound a bit zany and commercial.