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University Applications- more than good grades?

(51 Posts)
glitterbiscuits Mon 09-Oct-17 10:17:52

Where to start? I have a DS in y12 in an ordinary state Grammar.
Good GCSEs (4x A* 1x9 2xA 2x8 2xB). We assume he should get 3xA at his Alevels. He has no particular career plan and is a good all rounder. He may go for International Relations or something Geographical.
But everything I read seems to point to good universities/Russell group/ Oxbridge being massively oversubscribed. He’s certain he wants to go to somewhere ‘good’ and is looking forward to uni life already!
What could give him the edge for applications?
We live rurally and not near anywhere for easy access for extra curricular stuff. Although he’s a good pianist. I think we should start making an effort now to see some open days or find something extra to help him.
In my day if you got good grades universities were happy within any of the personal statement stuff.

All suggestions welcome please

titchy Mon 09-Oct-17 10:40:02

In my day if you got good grades universities were happy within any of the personal statement stuff.

Same still applies! Trust me no admissions tutor gives a shiny shit about piano, DofE, drama etc etc UNLESS it is directly relevant to the subject applied for. So International Relations type courses he should be reading broadsheet newspapers and using his PS to demonstrate an understanding of the subject and issues involved beyond whatever he learns from the A Level syllabuses. For Geography look at the Royal Geographical Society website and try to attend some events and use his PS to talk about what interested him and what he learned.

dinosaursandtea Mon 09-Oct-17 10:41:24

If he's in year 12, it's a bit late unfortunately. And how will he have time for starting meaningful extracurriculars when he's studying?

BertrandRussell Mon 09-Oct-17 10:43:13

Extr curricular things are unlikely useful if they are directly related to the course he is applying for. What does he want to study?

BertrandRussell Mon 09-Oct-17 10:44:09

Sorry, bizarre typos. But you get what I mean!

cowgirlsareforever Mon 09-Oct-17 10:46:59

Get him to read books or periodicals on the subject he's interested in studying.

2014newme Mon 09-Oct-17 10:47:01

Extra curriculum needs to be relevant to the course. So his reading, lectures he attends, groups he's part of etc. He needs to be really on top of politics and international relations issues, engaged, involved. Look for public lectures and talks at local universities etc

glitterbiscuits Mon 09-Oct-17 10:58:41

Other than turning up to school every day he doesn’t do a lot. He leaves at 7.30and is back by 5.
He’s never done any extra courses, isn’t in any groups at school. It’s an ok school but they don’t offer a lot of extras even if we lived nearer.
It’s things to put in a personal statement he will struggle with.
Good idea about the RGS lectures. We will have to make an effort ( and spend the money on transport). We seem to be very time poor as well.
He’s our eldest and I don’t have any RL friends who have sent their DC off to Uni.
If he had a focus it may be easier. I suspect he may end up with geography at the top of the list because he d like to field trips!
Surely a personal statement that says ‘I’m clever, hardworking and a nice lad should do!

2014newme Mon 09-Oct-17 11:04:26

No that personal statement would not do. How nice or nasty you are isn't a factor. Clever and hard working are demon by A level grades. Being able to demonstrate a genuine interest in your subject is what counts here. Does he even read relevant magazines or papers? Have you Google local talks and events?

2014newme Mon 09-Oct-17 11:05:41

If you post in higher education you will get some good tips from admission tutors

Slartybartfast Mon 09-Oct-17 11:07:57

Surely they are after a Well rounded individual surely? Not an All Work and No Play character.
does he play sports
play any instruments

Allthebestnamesareused Mon 09-Oct-17 11:11:40

I have a geographer at an RG uni.

He did do some sports but basically his Personal Statement is merely a couple of lines about "hobbies/sport"

The remainder was why he wanted to study the particular subject so once he knows what subject he wants to do get him to have a real think about why? Not just a its the one I am best at but eg. does he like the fieldwork (what does he enjoy about it), does he like the Human side (why?) and so on.

Possibly get him to read some geographical journals and when writing if there is an article that catches his attention he could refer to it.

The unis are looking for people who are keen on the subject not just whether they spent a few nights in a tent in the Peak District. Nothing wrong with doing that for fun and to enrich you personally but the unis don't really care.

Some unis do not read the PS but may look at them if they interview, some will purely look at grades.

The music he is already doing will be sufficient to mention.

Is his 6th Form not running any sessions as to how to write his PS as most do?

You may find he is already on it but you have been given the fear by MN!

glitterbiscuits Mon 09-Oct-17 11:15:21

Good idea about asking in higher ed. I’ll post there next.

I think it’s the lack of distinct career path that may be a problem for a personal statement.

He isn’t all work and no play but again no real passions. He is Grade 8 piano but it’s not a a lot of help to Uni as I understand. He has had a gardening summer job to earn some money.
Looking back maybe we should have tried to find a summer course.
Living rurally in an area without much culture hasn’t helped for the extras.

I don’t blame him for not knowing what he wants to do. I’m the wrong side of 40 and still don’t know what I want to do when I grow up.

glitterbiscuits Mon 09-Oct-17 11:16:33

Massive thanks @Allthebestnamesareused

titchy Mon 09-Oct-17 11:16:34

Surely a personal statement that says ‘I’m clever, hardworking and a nice lad should do!

To be honest, most PSs don't get read - if the grades predicted are in the right ballpark, and offer will usually be made. Some courses at some universities are heavily oversubscribed so it's not a blanket rule, and as you don't know where or what he'll be applying for it's a good idea to start looking out for relevant opportunities to demonstrate subject interest (I don't however think Geography is oversubscribed anywhere except the top three or four). There should be stuff online he can read if travelling is an issue, and you might find some lectures on youtube or podcasted.

Surely they are after a Well rounded individual surely?

Nah - we're after people who can pass, preferably with a 1st or 2:1. The Student Union would probably be delighted to have well rounded joiners, particularly on the athletics track, but they don't make offers!

titchy Mon 09-Oct-17 11:18:08

Most schools and colleges will start with PS advice at the end of year 12 - he's only just started so plenty of time.

Slartybartfast Mon 09-Oct-17 11:30:23

Surely they can afford to turn down total all work and no play characters?

glitterbiscuits Mon 09-Oct-17 11:32:21

He’s not all work and no play. If anything he’s more play than work. Just not on anything specific

Slartybartfast Mon 09-Oct-17 11:33:38

I spose op in his personal statement he can concentrate on what he wants them to know about

titchy Mon 09-Oct-17 11:34:12

Surely they can afford to turn down total all work and no play characters?

Some universities can some can't. So what - it's no more a decision making factor than hair colour.

BertrandRussell Mon 09-Oct-17 11:35:15

Surely they are after a Well rounded individual surely? Not an All Work and No Play character."

It's the grades they want. They don't care what shape the candidate is.If you think about it, it would be hugely unfair if they did.

TheLuminaries Mon 09-Oct-17 11:35:20

Uni my oldest went to has a policy of not reading personal statements unless you are entering through a widening participation route. Admissions tutor told me that middle class kids pursuing middle class interests were meaningless, they made offers purely on grades - they felt it was the fairest criterion. Uni is about intellectual endeavour, not being captain of the hockey team.

Slartybartfast Mon 09-Oct-17 11:36:53

it is what someone told me, trying to explain why their A* friend did not get in when other's did. this was Oxford, perhaps they are different?

Slartybartfast Mon 09-Oct-17 11:37:34

how would they chose if they had a million A* star pupils?

meditrina Mon 09-Oct-17 11:38:54

It's pretty utilitarian these days. You need activities which show you have a real interest in your proposed degree course or very closely allied areas.

Separate activities (to show you are an all rounder) carry very little weight, unless they are an an absolutely outstanding level and the rest of the application is good.

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