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Re-applying to top unis after getting stunning Bac results

(18 Posts)
shockthemonkey Thu 09-Jul-15 11:39:30

Hello, I am advising a French student who has just scored 19.55 out of 20 in his French Bac ES (Economics and Social Sciences stream).

Wants to study Int'l Business/Economics.

He already did the UCAS thing before sitting his bac and got just one offer from Bath. (Having looked at his PS and his reference, his application did not do him justice.)

He "firmed" Bath, but now that he has outperformed their conditions by so much, he wants another stab at Cambridge and LSE (I believe both figured in his original application).

Neither places are likely to have spots in Adjustment.

He would like to take up his first year at Bath and then re-apply from there. I happen to know that Cambridge will only accept students applying from other UK unis in VERY exceptional circs, and that a gap year might improve his chances (though crucially, still offers no guarantee).

It's a bird in the hand versus two in the bush. He seems determined he can "do better" than Bath even though I have stressed how respected it is... and that the offer conditions are not always in direct proportion to a university's standing.

Does anyone have any advice? It would be very interesting to know, for instance, it Cambridge's stance regarding applications from other UK universities is normal/shared by many other prestigious unis?

Thanks if you can help me advise,

Needmoresleep Thu 09-Jul-15 12:03:32

DS knew two students who reapplied to LSE/Cambridge for economics this year based on their results. The first got Cambridge but not LSE (he got neither first time round), the second got neither even though he got LSE first time round.

It is a lottery. I think LSE have 13 applicants for every place. With top results though I assume your student should get one of Warwick/UCL/LSE/Cambridge which all offer the same type of fairly maths course and which are all well regarded in the City. Then something more certain (Bristol?) for his final choice.

Given how competitive it is I would not reduce chances by starting elsewhere first. LSE don't enter clearing. You could ask but I don't think they do adjustment either. Instead, as I recall the website suggests you reapply. If he gets into any of the top four he will find that fellow students have equally top marks. 4A*s at A level will be common

He should also think through what he wants. Bath degrees have great employment prospects. The Warwick/LSE/Cambridge/UCL degrees are really maths/economics. If he is not very comfortable with a lot of applied maths he should think hard. DS has been surprised that how some students are struggling.

hattymattie Thu 09-Jul-15 12:23:23

I do know one or two who have done a year of French prepa and then got unconditional offers. Cambridge would still do an interview and maybe test so it's not a given - not sure about LSE. You need Bonsoir - she's good at this sort of thing.

Lilymaid Thu 09-Jul-15 13:14:39

I've two economist DSs and both would say that Bath is a very good university for economics.
However, DS1 now wishes he had worked that bit harder at school and got a place at Cambridge (or perhaps even the LSE) rather than the university he attended (also very good for economics) as he feels that more doors would have been open to him.
No guarantee the French student would get a place at either LSE or Cambridge if he applies again so it is a gamble.

shockthemonkey Thu 09-Jul-15 14:27:50

Very interesting and useful, sleep. Pretty much confirms what I feel.

Hatty, that's a worthwhile thought also (going via prépa) but I think he did not do APB (though will check when I speak to them).

Lily, I know Bath to be v good for his course and v good for employment prospects. I will continue to point this out to the student.

Thanks! I will check back to see if Bonsoir wades in, she is definitely one to ask.

basildonbond Thu 09-Jul-15 14:35:39

no direct advice shock as we're having a similar dilemma

What's not helping in our case is the difference between university admission systems in different countries. Where dh comes from all students' marks at the end of secondary are ranked and the top 5% get to go to the top-ranked universities- it's all done after results are out and there's no choosing of students by tutors - if you've got the result to do medicine at X university then that's where you go. Dh can't get his head around the fact that ds has higher grades than the standard offers for Oxford etc but there's still no guarantee he'd be accepted...

Roastchicken Thu 09-Jul-15 14:42:26

I went to Oxford (20 years ago) and several of my friends - including 3 non-UK students - had got in on the second attempt. If he really wants to, I'd suggest he gives it a go, as he may always wonder what if.

hattymattie Thu 09-Jul-15 19:02:25

Why not PM Bonsoir? Also - I think there is a post bac session of APB a bit like clearing. A good prepa would give the maths needed for economics. By the way DD says the Cambs economists spend their whole time doing maths

shockthemonkey Thu 09-Jul-15 22:16:33

Thanks again. So many countries' HE application systems work that way, Bond! Your typical French person shrinks from the uncertainty of UCAS.

Will pm Bonsoir, it's a good idea.

Maths maths and more maths... hmm, not for everyone... and ES maths is quite light really, so that's an important consideration.

senua Thu 09-Jul-15 22:18:25

I would normally suggest re-applying. However, I know that students going for Maths degrees are not advised to take a gap year (because Maths skills work on a use-it-or-lose-it basis). Does this also apply to Maths-heavy Economics degrees? Can he organise something relevant to keep his brain ticking over?

If he is going to re-apply to Cambridge then he really needs to work on his PS. Everyone applying there will be bright but to stand a chance you need a spark, that little je ne sais quoi.

summerends Thu 09-Jul-15 22:22:49

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Needmoresleep Fri 10-Jul-15 09:51:46

I assume he has looked The Student Room. When I looked 18 months back there were lots of posts from would be French economics students, so many that moderators had to regularly remind them to post in English.

Then he really needs to look at course content. You mention his interest in international business. The four I mentioned are very technical degrees and to some extent sought after by employers because of this. Is he interested because of perceptions of prestige or is he genuinely interested in studying quite a technical degree. And has he the skills? Small sample but three out of the four DS knows going to Cambridge were possibly capable of being offered places on a maths degree there. And even at LSE A*/A in Further Maths will be common.

DS is glad he had Further Maths. He claims they covered half the content of a FM paper in a single lecture. Fine if you had done it before or were very able, but otherwise a struggle. At least half of a first year will be maths. Nothing new for British students who will have had similar at A level. But perhaps a bit of a shock to a generalist. My understanding is the the level of the maths is not too far beyond FM, but that the style of learning takes a bit of getting used to. One lecture then several hours figuring it out for yourself, plus it is quite specialised so confusingly small differences in techniques.

DS suggests that to go on and do a pure economics Masters at somewhere like Cambridge or LSE he will need to opt for even more maths, and indeed the better approach might have been a first degree in maths.

In short it depends what the boy wants to do with his degree and how happy he is with maths. Bath offer lots of chances to take finance/business type courses and a year's work placement, so attractive for many. (We did a self guided tour and we're lucky enough to meet a very helpful admissions tutor. The conclusion was that Bath offered a great degree but not technical/research orientated enough for DS.)

Cambridge give two interviews, one economics, the other maths. UCL/LSE/Warwick do not normally interview so the PS has to be spot on. Given the competition tiny details will make all the difference.

Several reapplicants for other competitive subjects like engineering we know got their Cambridge place. Others did not. It probably helps to have proven results rather than predictions. DS would have preferred to go to Cambridge if only to get away from London, however he probably preferred the LSE course and given the course is only three years felt he was better off getting on with it and then, if he wants to do a Masters, perhaps reapplying.

In short he needs to look closely at course content and make a decision based on that rather than on University prestige. Bath's offer is different (rather than better or worse.)

Bonsoir Fri 10-Jul-15 15:59:01


19.55/20 is a stunning bac result but (and it is a huge but) the ES bac is the wrong preparation for a UK Economics degree at a top university. All the best courses require 16/20 or 17/20 in Maths in the Bac S, preferably with Spécialité Mathématiques.

Bac ES is a great pre-requisite for a Business degree, but that is a less demanding and less prestigious course than Economics.

Bonsoir Fri 10-Jul-15 16:06:48

I should also add that, IME, getting a place on an Economics course in the UK is ludicrously competitive for even French Bac S students. Anecdotally, my DSS1 only got offered Bristol, where he is ridiculously happy and has topped his year group two years in a row. DSS2, who was accepted at Ginette through APB (ie proof of his star qualities wink) didn't get an offer at LSE (though he did get UCL/Warwick/Bristol). He didn't even bother trying for Cambridge, though Ginette is more competitive than Oxbridge...

Needmoresleep Fri 10-Jul-15 17:28:39

And even for British students! DS did not get UCL/Warwick/Cambridge, but did get LSE (and Bristol, which is slightly less competitive though still tough) despite a 4A* prediction. Which is why, unless you are a really exceptional candidate, you should probably try all four.

However it is important to remember that though these courses may be more competitive they are not necessarily 'better' or more prestigious (Though perhaps not the case in France. In the UK E&M or PPE or similar at the same universities and Oxford, Durham etc will stand you in good stead. It really depends how technical a job you want to do after.) The important thing is the right course for the student. The Bath degree is very sound and produces very employable graduates.

pastaofplenty Tue 14-Jul-15 15:55:41

OP - the problem with the French Bac is that we know 19+ is a great achievement but when it comes to looking at A level equivalents then it is "just" a AA*A which other UK based students will have achieved.

The percentage of UK students getting top marks and the percentage of French getting even TB or above is sadly not comparable - if it was it would be easier.

I would suggest that while the results show the student's academic ability then if he has a place at Bath and his PS and references were not great then accept the place at Bath. Oxbridge will be looking at more than marks - PS, interview etc... and if this is a shortcoming then it may be a wasted opportunity not to take the offer he has.

Marks are not everything and if he skips a year to apply to Oxbridge then there is no guarantee that he will get a place.

I would say take the opportunity now and then if he wants to apply to a "prestigious" university at postgraduate level (and he is accepted) then that is the way forward.

Maybe the course at Bath will prepare him for life in the UK, adjusting to the language and/or other considerations.

shockthemonkey Wed 15-Jul-15 07:31:09

Thanks so much everyone. Definitely a consensus there re the level of maths in ES (which does not surprise me at all given the instant rise in my own sons maths grade when he moved from seconde into premiere ES. )

I do appreciate all your contributions which have really helped me advise him. He will probably take up his bath place...

Needmoresleep Wed 15-Jul-15 09:23:41

The alternative if he were really determined, would be to spend a year in a tutorial college taking double maths A levels. There are lots, especially in places like Oxford and Cambridge, catering specifically for overseas students who wanting to apply for British Universities. A good college would then support him through the UCAS process.

Its back to what he wants to do. An economics degree from Bath probably would not qualify you for a economics Masters at LSE or Cambridge, a maths degree from Bath might. (I am no expert but DS seems to believe that in order to progress to a quantitative Masters which would open doors to a research career, he needs to take maths options where he can. Most, with different ambitions, take accountancy or banking options.) A good degree from Bath would however be well thought of by a range of employers.

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