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Going to university at 17?

(48 Posts)
Bonsoir Tue 04-Oct-11 20:31:31

Does anyone have any useful information about applying to university aged 16, for entry at age 17? In particular, do many/any universities refuse candidates under the age of 18 on entry?

jkklpu Tue 04-Oct-11 20:33:59

Wouldn't have thought so as it's all about qualifications. In Scotland, lots of kids are 17 as they sit their university entrance exams earlier.

kritur Tue 04-Oct-11 20:39:39

Quite common in scotland, less common in England. We don't refuse entry but we do need to put some additional things in place when we have candidates under 18. 17 year olds are less of an issue than the really precocious 15 yr olds though!

Bonsoir Tue 04-Oct-11 20:40:21

Definitely not applying in Scotland. What are the "things" you have to put in place, btw?

kritur Tue 04-Oct-11 20:47:39

We prefer for our own peace of mind to make sure that staff coming into contact with under 18s have current CRBs in place. Most of our staff do for various reasons but some don't. We also allocate under 18s a dedicated tutor and member of support staff as a contact so they get more pastoral care than over 18s.

PastGrace Tue 04-Oct-11 20:55:00

From the student's point of view, it can be a bit...dull. I know that university is about more than drinking, but in most (if not all) Student Unions there will be copies of their student ID behind the bar and staff will lose their jobs if they serve them. Bars and clubs in cities will also be strict of ID. From speaking to friends who were 17 when they started university, this means that freshers' week is a bit flat, because everyone is out drinking in places where they can't get in - a few of my friends were much more homesick because when everyone else was out drinking and socialising and distracting themselves, they couldn't go. Obviously once you have got friends they will bring alcohol to you stay in with you, but for the first few days I think it can be a bit hard.

jkklpu Tue 04-Oct-11 21:00:33

Interested in why you're ruling out Scotland? There are lots of good unis there both traditional and newer.

Bonsoir Wed 05-Oct-11 07:12:28

Because this is a French candidate who is only interested in high-profile universities in southern England (otherwise he'll stay closer to home in Paris).

Bonsoir Wed 05-Oct-11 07:13:23

PastGrace - that's a very good point - the fact that a minor won't be able to participate fully in undergraduate social life.

jkklpu Wed 05-Oct-11 08:44:13

Well, he'll have a better time at either Oxford or Cambridge if he takes a year out

slipshodsibyl Wed 05-Oct-11 08:51:58

This is a generalization and will not apply to all, I know, but in my experience, the maturity thing is an issue: it isn't just that the student might be unable to participate fully (in fact they often do participate fully -in practice, checks on age are not rigorously carried out in all places of entertainment), but the issue of maturity and coping with social life and work away from home. They grow up a lot in the final school year. I have seen several unhappy outcomes (of varying severity, from nothing very serious to disastrous) when students go early which I cannot help but feel might not have been the case had they been a year older, and cannot recall seeing any child gain any particular benefit from early entry.

Your student and his circumstances might be different however.

Bonsoir Wed 05-Oct-11 08:57:20

Thank you for your thoughts. I am no fan of the French school system whereby bright students jump a year (though fully appreciate that the French school system offers no realistic alternative to those who are way ahead of their peers intellectually) and agree that it is better to go to university at 18 or even 19 than at 17 for all the issues of maturity/social life etc.

I need to talk this through with my candidate though (a very bright boy indeed)!

dinkystinky Wed 05-Oct-11 08:59:26

How close to turning 18 will they be when they start university?

I applied at 16 and started aged 17 - but turned 18 within 3 months of starting university - and it was fine. No special provisions etc. I was at university in London and participated fully in social life. If its going to be a year before he turns 18 I'd suggest taking a year out before starting university.

NorkyButNice Wed 05-Oct-11 09:02:06

I went at 17 and found the experience OK.

Study-wise I didn't get any special treatment. This was 15 years ago so not sure whether things like CRB checks!

Socially, I couldn't get into some of the clubs that my friends went to but I did a lot of drinking in the student union.

notyummy Wed 05-Oct-11 09:11:07

I was 17 (didn't turn 18 until nearly the end of my first year.) I was never asked for ID (however this was ...erm... 22 years ago) and I realise things may have changed. The student bars were so busy there is no way they could have carded everyone, and I had been drinking in ordinary pubs for 2 years by that stage already. (There were some advantages to be 5 ft 10 as a teenager....) I also lived the other end of the country from my parents in a shared flat with no phone, so was really left to fend for myself. A few hairy moments but overall a fantastic experience that really matured me.

Ladymuck Wed 05-Oct-11 09:15:56

At the time I went to university Cambridge refused to let anyone matriculate under the age of 18, so you had to be 18 by around the 2nd week of October (ie you could skip an academic year but you needed to be one of the oldest in the academic year below which runs from Sept-Aug). Looking at their website now, they will accept you if you turn 18 in the first term. Oxford had no lower age limit, and I overlapped with Ruth Lawrence (who managed to get a first in maths at the age of 13). I sat the Oxford entrance exam at 16 and went up at 17.

In my particular set of circumstances (my family were very unsupportive of me continuing in education), had I taken a year out then I would probably not have gone, so given the option of having gone early or not at all I am very glad that I did go at 17. But I think that it would have been a different experience for me, and probably a better one, had I been a year older. Many of my fellow students were at least a year if not two older than me. And it was odd not even being able to go and see an 18 film, let alone have a drink in the bar.

ellisbell Wed 05-Oct-11 09:45:32

if they are that bright they will soon discover fake ID and be able to go most places outside the university and maybe in it. However one of my circle at university was 17 and they were treated differently by other students as they were just less mature. I am sure they would have benefited from waiting a year. I certainly wouldn't fund one of my children to go at 17.

jkklpu Wed 05-Oct-11 10:49:25

I'm sure he's very bright. However, if Oxbridge/London universities are his target, he really will benefit from an extra year before he goes. He'd find that lots of the people he meets there might even be 19 and will have done all kinds of different things in between school and university. Even if he doesn't fancy the idea of working for a whole year, could he go overseas to learn a new language or something? Do bear in mind that this additional kind of experience would also give him a more rounded university application, especially after the very academic hot-housing French approach. After a tough Bac and possible lots of prepas courses, he'd probably like a break, too.

So, unless he's going to study maths, really do encourage him to think about delaying entrance for a year.

goinggetstough Wed 05-Oct-11 11:58:37

I believe at some universities eg Bristol that students under 18 can only live in certain Halls probably for the same reasons Kritur mentioned earlier.

AuldAlliance Wed 05-Oct-11 13:33:43

I studied in Edinburgh, started 1st year when I was 17, nearly 18. I could have gone a year earlier, as I'd passed my Highers and got unconditional offers to my choices of university, but I stayed on for 6th year at school as I felt that I wouldn't be ready to study at almost 17. It was nothing to do with legal drinking ages, I'd been going to pubs for 2yrs by then, I just felt that I'd be more mature a year down the line. And I was.

I also spent a very profitable year working for 2 A-levels that I didn't need, with no pressure, so I could read around the subjects and really explore them, and I also took an extra language O-grade. It was a great year, and I grew much more independent, open-minded and savvy during the course of it.

The French school system is, IME, pretty infantilisant, and if he is to take real advantage of his high-profile Southern English university, he might be better off taking a gap year of some kind. When I was an undergraduate, the rich public school kids who'd just returned from a year-long trip to Guatemala were by no means more intelligent than the other students - on any level - but they were extremely arrogant and condescending confident. It takes a degree of confidence in oneself to prevent those types from occupying more space than they deserve in a university context.

Bonsoir Wed 05-Oct-11 16:27:47

Thank you everybody - you have highlighted lots of issues for this candidate to think through!

AnyoneButLulu Wed 05-Oct-11 16:36:36

I was in exactly the same position as Ladymuck and I didn't find it a problem - in my experience university area pubs and SU bars rarely card you because they "know" that everyone's 18, simply because they're undergraduates. They're probably fiercer now though.

It depends on the subject really. I was doing physics, and a year off can really set you back (even more so for maths). If you were going to do history or literature OTOH then the extra year's maturity could be positively beneficial.

Ladymuck Wed 05-Oct-11 17:09:21

Disadvantage of Oxford's collegiate system then! I was there before the invention of the "card", but in a college of 300, with 5 or 6 barmen in the college, I did stand out. That said there didn't seem to be a problem with me brining my own drinks to the bar.

Bonsoir Wed 05-Oct-11 17:26:10

AnyoneButLulu - good point about the subject matter. My candidate is for Engineering so a gap year would not be a good thing unless he was going to be doing more maths and physics during that year...

AnyoneButLulu Wed 05-Oct-11 17:50:58

Ah well LadyM, there's an obvious solution to that: drink in your friends' college bars. Mind you I managed to serve at my own college bar aged 17, so they really weren't checking.

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