A grades but missed offer what are the options?

(55 Posts)
secretsquirrels Sun 20-Jul-14 17:50:21

I would be very grateful for some advice for DS1.
DS has missed his Cambridge offer because the STEP exam went badly.
He may well miss his insurance as well.
Having said that he is pretty sure he will get A*A*A*A in his A levels.

We are trying to get a plan ready before results day. I am struggling to understand how clearing works. Does he have to search for a uni with a vacancy on a maths course. If a uni is not in clearing is there any mileage in contacting them or is that just adjustment?
Does the lifting of the cap on A grade students help him?

MirandaWest Sun 20-Jul-14 17:56:37

Has he had his STEP results (I don't know when they come out) and my exierience is only of parents who are maths teachers and used to prepare students for STEP. I realise you'll want to prepare for the worst but I know that sometimes students felt they had failed but were actually all right. If you have had results then please ignore that.

As far as the clearing part goes I'm afraid I don't know, but hopefully someone who does will see this and be able to help.

headlesslambrini Sun 20-Jul-14 18:07:09

Unis can recruit as many as they like over a certain grade boundary. I think that it is ABB. Get your son to contact unis directly - attend the upcoming open events and get quizzing the admissions tutors.

titchy Sun 20-Jul-14 18:11:00

A selecting university is unlikely to be in clearing, maths courses are generally only in clearing from 'lesser' universities. If he gets no offers he'll be eligible for clearing automatically, then it's just a case of looking at university websites to see what subjects they still have vacancies for.

He may be better if those turn out to be his grades applying next year and getting unconditional offers, though he'd probably need to do something mathsy (OU?) during the year.

bamboostalks Sun 20-Jul-14 18:11:39

How is it possible to miss his insurance with 4 A* ? What was the offer?

titchy Sun 20-Jul-14 18:23:26

Maths offers often include achieving a certain grade in the STEP exam as well as A+ at A level bamboo.

secretsquirrels Sun 20-Jul-14 18:34:50

He is certain he missed the STEP grade (the results come out on the same day as A levels). In my experience he is able to judge fairly accurately what he has scored in maths exams so I believe him. I think he may have done enough for his insurance and is just panicking.
titchy A selecting university is unlikely to be in clearing. That was what I thought.

headlesslambrini Can he approach a university who is not in clearing and get on a course for this year though?

eatyourveg Sun 20-Jul-14 18:36:16

Looking at the clearing lists from last year, Durham were advertising more maths courses than anywhere else so not limited to "lesser" universities.

Manchester and Sheffield also had them as did Queen Mary (UoL) and Loughborough, Birmingham, Liverpool, Newcastle amongst several others all not considered as lesser.

I would hang on and be ready for clearing. Many places advertise on their websites in the days leading up to results. Some places are even advertising maths places now if you do a google clearing 2014 search though none are RG institutions.

pm me if you want to know if a specific course at a specific uni had places last year.

bamboostalks Sun 20-Jul-14 19:07:34

God that's tough!

uiler123 Sun 20-Jul-14 19:42:51

Maths courses in well-regarded RG universities are likely to enter clearing/adjustment and will be actively looking for students with high grades who missed STEP grades. Such courses won't be looking to fill places but to pick up students with high grades like OP's son for extra places. Contact all universities in which he is interested in asap after he gets his results, but remember that students often predict their STEP performance incorrectly. He may have done better than he thinks because marks are awarded for answers in the right directions, even if incomplete.

secretsquirrels Sun 20-Jul-14 19:47:41

Can you go into adjustment if you miss your offer though? I thought it was only for those who exceeded their offer?

Needmoresleep Sun 20-Jul-14 20:41:41

Secret, I am so sorry to hear this.

DS reports that even some of the most brilliant mathematicians at his school came out of STEP exams looking very shaken, and we were shown round one college by a lovely student who had missed his STEP grades but still got through via the summer pool. That said I also understand that up to 50% of those with Cambridge maths offers will not get the grades needed.

I don't know if any of the academics could confirm whether it is worth him writing to his insurance offer now to say he is still very keen, or whether to save this till results day.

nothingtodotoday Sun 20-Jul-14 21:07:54

Tell him not to panic. There is in need to contact his insurance uni as if he is not accepted by his first choice and meets the grades for his insurance he will automatically be accepted by his insurance uni. If he fails to meet both offers he can then research the options in clearing that are available and listed in one of the newspapers that day.

With such good grades he will no doubt be offered places. If he wants he can take a gap year and reapply with his results in hand.

My son considered changing uni on redults day as he wasn't sure he still wanted to go to his choice and lined up another 2 options which he could have accepted. In the end he went with his original offer though but it demonstrates there are still options there.

Hope this reassured him.

nothingtodotoday Sun 20-Jul-14 21:16:53

I meant no need, not in need! Sorry.

senua Sun 20-Jul-14 22:04:26

According to UCAS and TSR, adjustment is only available to those who exceed their firm offer. I was hoping that you might be in with a chance of exceeding the A Level results (although STEP might let him down) but UCAS actually says "exceeded conditions for your firm choice" so it sounds like all conditions (i.e. A Level and STEP).

But there's always clearing.

UptheChimney Sun 20-Jul-14 22:46:15

With such good grades he will no doubt be offered places. If he wants he can take a gap year and reapply with his results in hand

^ This ^

My advice would be not to panic, and that it would be better to take a gap year and apply again, if he doesn't get what he needs next month.

Universities can take as many students as they want at ABB or better, so he'll be in a good position. It'll be about which courses feel they have space.

But IMO it would be far better to try again for the courses he really wants than to grab at anything, rather than nothing. THree years can be a long time.

Molio Mon 21-Jul-14 00:41:54

secretsquirrels I'm a complete numpty as regards maths but just want to say how sorry I am for your DS, and how badly exams judge the top students so often. He's very obviously brilliant and I hope he's misjudged his performance, but if he hasn't then he's in good company and I hope things turn out well. They rarely don't for someone of such very high calibre.

Clobbered Mon 21-Jul-14 01:05:22

STEP is very different from A levels, although I'm sure you know that already, and he may well have misjudged his performance.
I don't think there is anything you can do at this stage other than try to put it out of your mind and wait for results day before making any decisions.
If he misses his offers but has really good results, then there will be plenty of options open to him. Universities generally discourage students from taking gap years if they are going on to do maths, but not all of them are so short-sighted, and if he can find something interesting to do, he may be better off reapplying next year, rather than rushing into a hasty decision when the shock of results are still fresh in his mind. He can easily ask his university to give him a reading list to refresh his maths over the summer before he joins.
My DS has just finished maths at Cambridge, and honestly, it's not the be all and end all it's cracked up to be. Yes, you get the Cambridge label at the end of it, but he's basically spent three years attending lectures and otherwise working on his own in his room. Every Summer term (exam term) he's been revising alone, with just one or two revision tutorials and no other input - I was quite shocked, to be honest. It's a pretty tough gig and DD who is elsewhere is having a much much better time and learning a lot of transferrable skills that are very relevant to employment. No comfort to your DS now if he misses out on Cambridge, I know, but there are loads of other great universities that will be happy to take him, and he will have a great time wherever he ends up.

BeckAndCall Mon 21-Jul-14 09:51:31

Secret, I'm really sorry for your DS and it is true that he probably knows whether he's passed or not. But he could be mistaken - I don't know the pass marks or mark schemes or UMS equivalents for STEP but presumably you do? If it's like regular A level papers sometimes there are real surprises on the conversion of raw to UMS scores.

There are several possibilities though:

- he may have missed close enough to still be taken by his first choice college.

- He may still be summer pooled

- His insurance uni may also still take him if he's close ( imperial or Warwick, presumably?)

- His other rejected universities ( ie. those he had offers from) may enter clearing and he can apply to them again in clearing and they would most likely take him.

I guess you're keen to do something NOW so that it takes the pressure off on the day. Is it possible to email the admissions team at each of his other choices, assuming he still likes them, to see if they think they will be entering clearing for maths? That may give you some hope.

It's probably also possible to look up who entered clearing for maths last year to see if any of the a are suitable for him. But it would be at real shame if he accepted somewhere less than he is clearly suited for just because they're not in clearing this year. Clearly there's are only a handful of unis where your DS would fit well with his abilities and he'd be better to wait a year than to rush to somewhere which is a worse fit for him.

secretsquirrels Mon 21-Jul-14 13:55:02

I am touched by the helpful support. thanks.
Sometimes there can be an element of tall poppy syndrome on MN, not least where Oxbridge is concerned, and I have avoided posting before for fear of this.
He is brilliant at maths but also shy and prone to anxiety. His college have no history of students doing Maths at Cambridge so he got no help there. He worked incredibly hard and was doing extremely well in the practise papers but on the day, sitting the exams alone in an empty college, nerves got the better of him and his mind went blank.

Obviously if he meets his insurance we have no problem. If it's a near miss I think it will be worth contacting them. He did extra modules, self taught as well as teaching himself STEP. While they are flexible with near misses for firm offer holders they are less so for insurance.

DH and I have had a long discussion and we think that grasping at anything in clearing could be a mistake for him. He would struggling for accommodation which would be no problem for some DC but for DS it would be a disaster. He could end up bored in his first year at the very least as less demanding maths courses cover further maths in the first year.
So the plan is
1) a plea to the insurance to take him.
2) hope for one of his rejected offer unis to enter clearing (Durham to be precise).
3) A gap year. He would need to do maths during that year. He has already taught himself a lot so I know this is possible. Will look into OU as someone suggested.

Belloc Mon 21-Jul-14 14:00:33

A gap year is often a very bad idea for a prospective maths undergraduate, unless they're very committed to keep up their maths.

I know a young man who missed his Cambridge offer three years ago (thanks to STEP). He ended up going to Sheffield (which has an excellent maths department) and will this year head off to MIT in the states to complete his studies, having turned down a postgraduate offer from Cambridge.

If he does miss his offer, it's just a small blip. He'll have other chances to shine.

Tell him to enjoy his summer and not to worry. And you should stop worrying too. He'll encounter much bigger setbacks in life than a missed STEP grade.

I feel certain he'll be fine, even if he does miss the STEP grade.

Belloc Mon 21-Jul-14 14:04:32

Is his insurance offer Warwick? I thought Warwich gave one offer excluding STEP and one alternative offer including STEP?

secretsquirrels Mon 21-Jul-14 14:19:53

Belloc Good to hear a happy outcome for someone in DS position.
Yes it's Warwick. It's A*A*A with STEP 2 or A*AA with STEP 1.
He thinks he got a high 3 in STEP. Of course if he got a 2 he will be fine and I think there may be an element of results panic involved. Nevertheless it seems we ought to be prepared in case decisions have to be made on results day.
(Cambridge wanted STEP 1,1 and so he isn't even a near miss).

Molio Mon 21-Jul-14 15:44:52

secretsquirrels why not contact Cambridge too, explaining the situation fully including the background, self-teaching etc. It's all highly relevant especially the fact that he's blazing a trail and had no school support for the STEP. They know very well how much guidance is given at plenty of other schools. Difficult to know how to phrase it though but obviously that would be easier if he had a sympathetic Head of Maths from his school who could do it on his behalf. Anyhow, what I really mean is in for a penny etc. Much better to get ahead of the crowd at Cambridge too.

Needmoresleep Mon 21-Jul-14 16:02:52

Worth also contacting other admissions offices? Bath say, or equivalent. You dont need to give your son's name. Simply explain he is an A* candidate yet may have missed STEP. Given somewhere in the region of 50% miss their Cambridge maths offers this will not be a new problem.

Ask if they might be able to consider your son at the point when offers come out. He wants/needs to be on a good course, and does not want to take a gap year.

You are phoning because this is something his school does not have much experience of, and though they mean well guidance/support to date has been poor.

The worst they can say, is "no chance". My guess is that if they are likely to enter clearing, or simply expect a spare place or two to open up because others miss their grades, they will be as helpful as possible. They will know that Cambridge will have interviewed your son and been impressed. If they have a place he is the sort of candidate they will want to encourage.

You would then know where to focus your efforts on results day, hopefully with a couple of direct phone numbers.

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