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UCAS query re health issues

(9 Posts)
Dukandoit Wed 07-Sep-11 14:03:44

I'm hoping that mumsnet knowledge can help my Dd. She will be applying for university this year but has had some serious health issues over the last 12 months. She has (amazingly) still managed to do very well in three of her four AS levels and will drop the fourth one.

I'm wondering whether the fact she was ill , missed large amounts of school and was having treatment through her exams will strengthen her application, or go against her as the universities might have concerns about her health affecting her ability to complete the course. She is very determined and applying for Oxford and Russell Group.

Does any one have any experience of this? Or whether she should play down her health issues on the application?

ajandjjmum Wed 07-Sep-11 14:08:23

It might be worth talking to the school about inlcuding the fact that she has overcome health problems in the staff reference?

Dukandoit Wed 07-Sep-11 19:06:11

Thanks ajandjjmum. The school are fully informed and have been very supportive. I had just wondered if some of those with knowldge about Oxbridge applications in particular had any advice. I suppose that I am concerned that it might go against her if the school includes too much about her health issues in the reference. I am probably over thinking it!!

Appleby Thu 08-Sep-11 15:03:55

Name changed for this but I do have very direct experience.

My very strong advice would be to not mention it, or at least barely at all. My DD was in hospital for 10 months of her Sixth Form and took her AS's from there. The school was extremely supportive in her case too, but there was a very real limit as to what the teachers could do. They marked essays etc. but essentially she worked on her own. She refused Special Consideration and Special Awards but did well: all A's. The only reference to it was: 'DD is an exceptionally strong independent learner and her results are the more remarkable for having been achieved against a background of illness'. Nothing else. She's got into all five universities.

My niece was also seriously ill in the run up to her GCSE's and did relatively poorly. She opted for the Special Access route and made quite a bit of her illness, encouraged by her school. She didn't get into Cambridge and got rejected by three out of four of the others even though she's just flown through her A Levels with glittering results.

I think one problem is that so many students latch on to the 'mitigating circumstances' thing that in order to get the universities to understand that this illness was a very serious illness the reference has to emphasize it so much that it worries the universities for precisely the reasons you give.

That said, your DD needs to be sure in her own mind that she understands the toll an Oxford or Cambridge degree can take and that she is up to it, both physically and mentally too.

I don't think you're overthinking it at all.

CherryLip Thu 08-Sep-11 22:52:26

I've had first hand experience with this. My DD had five offers from 5 top universities and although I read her personal statement I did not see what the school wrote. She tells me it was very factual about her illness, and very to the point. This did not seem to affect her offers at all and I did not think they judge people on their health conditions. Good luck to you smile

SarkySpanner Thu 08-Sep-11 22:56:40

I am an ex admissions tutor and I strongly recommend that you make sure that this is mentioned in her reference.

Are these Heath issues ongoing? If not make sure that this is clear.

Dukandoit Sat 10-Sep-11 00:19:56

Thanks very much for all your responses.

Sarky Spanner, the more intensive part of her treatment will finish in less than two months, then a much reduced maintenance type treatment will continue for about a year. After this, hopefully (90% chance) she will be well again. So the end is in sight and should affect her A2 year far less, barring complications.

Appleby, thank you very much for your first hand advice and very well done to your Dd! Talking to my Dd tonight, I don't think that she intends mentioning it in her Personal Statement. However, I am sure that the school is going to make comments in her reference. I'm hoping she will be strong enough to cope with University. In a strange way this set back has made her more determined than ever before to grasp life and opportunities she is given. Hopefully her health will be better by then but she is changed by all this and looks at life differently as well (in fact our whole family do!).

CherryLip, thank you for your advice too (and very well done to your Dd!). Our girls are amazing, aren't they!! And I hope that both of your Dd's aren now in good health.

I think that you have all reinforced my inner feelings that although the school must mention her illness, it should not be overplayed but kept more factual and the rest of her application and Personal Statement make very litte mention of it or none at all.

Fingers crossed all will turn out well with her application and her health.

ellisbell Sat 10-Sep-11 07:50:32

if it is a self-limiting illness (e.g broken leg) that keeps someone out of school it should be mentioned. If it's likely to be an ongoing problem throughout a university course then it's perhaps best played down.

Don't have direct experience of this but a relative who had an ongoing health problem struggled to get a job post university. Once they'd had an operation that solved the problem they found work.

Dukandoit Sat 10-Sep-11 21:44:21

Thanks ellisbell for your advice. Unfortunately the next test/scan won't take place until after the UCAS forms need to go in so although we are optimistic, it will not be possible to give any absolute results for some time. Even then it is one of those diseases where an all clear may not be given for several years, although she may be completely well during that time.

I think that I shall just need to make sure that the school reference does not overplay the situation. It is not something they have had to deal with very often (fortunately). Also she is now in a comparatively strong position of having achieved three good AS results, when in December and January she was looking at retaking the whole year.

Thanks everyone for your advice and experience.

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