Will top unis consider a very young applicant?(28 Posts)
I have been approached by a student who is beginning his last year of school at the very tender age of just 15. He will turn 16 later this month, and wants to apply now for autumn 2017 entry.
He will be literally just about to turn or just recently turned 17 when he starts. Will this put off some unis?
He is brilliant and wants to apply to Cambridge, Imperial, and three other top-ranking names for Engineering. It's going to be a huge rush to get his application in, I know, but my question at this point is about his age.
On Cambridge SAQ he will probably tick the box saying if there is no place for him 2017 he is happy to have a deferred offer.
We are in France. He is not terribly excited about doing a year at prépa (specialist pre-university schools). But if he gets a deferred offer from Cambridge he would probably need to do so to fill his gap year.
Thanks for any advice about his age.
Why don't you contact the universities? They will have a definitive answer.
I do wonder if there might be an issue with DBS checks as universities are set up for dealing with over-18s. I don't know if DBS checks are required for working with 16-17 year olds.
Lots of Scottish students leave school after 5th year at this age and some are also still only 17 even after leaving in 6th year and it's never been an issue except for I think medicine students?
This is from the Exeter University website. I'm sure most universities will have something similar, or, as suggested, phone the Admissions Tutor?
What's the rush?
A lot of student culture is built around pubs and clubs. If he hasn't got ID to say he is of a drinking age, then he won't get in i.e. he will be left outside on the pavement by the group.
Wait a year and have a better social life.
I had a friend who went to Uni at 16, also oxbridge.
It took A LOT of organising and these were the thing he had to do:
Have a mentor he had to stay in contact with every week until he turned 18.
Was advised not to tell anyone outside his direct friendship group his age
He's from a culture that doesnt drink even though he himself has no issues with alcohol, he was strongly advised to use his culture as an excuse as to why he wasnt drinking/ clubbing rather than his age.
He had to live in halls until his 3rd year when he'd turned 18, he was allowed to be a halls warden though.
All in all, he regretted going to Uni early and still maintains he should have had a couple of years out before he went so he could have enjoyed it more As it stood, he was massively isolated and when "friends" found out his real age they very quickly drifted away from him. He was home pretty much every other weekend to see his home friends and family and spent 90% of his time at uni in his room.
He came out at the end with a 2:1 when he could have walked a first if he hadn't been so unhappy
Two of my friends went to Cambridge at 15, turning 16 a couple months later. It was a cock-up and both they and their colleges regret it.
Let him get some work experience or volunteering somewhere - anything vaguely relevant to his degree - doesn't need to be prepa if he's got the grades for Cambridge already.
Maybe, but why? As others have said even though the kid's academically up to it they won't be socially ready. How about spending the next two years doing arts a-levels instead?
You need to ask directly the courses/colleges of interest.
It is not unusual for under 18s to be at university, as different education systems around the world finish at different ages. It is also quite common in some education systems for children to be grade skipped (USA, France etc). An emotionally mature student who has always been out of their chronological age group typically does fine.
And for many students, particularly at the top universities, not being able to go clubbing or bar hopping is simply not an issue as they socialise in ways that don't involve alcohol. In any university there will be sizeable group of students who don't drink.
My DH deferred as requested for Cambridge, also engineering (although this was many moons ago now), was just turned 18 when he went (August baby)
He doesn't regret it to my knowledge having that extra time, he spent his gap year doing work experience in engineering
I think this used to happen quite a lot now, but haven't heard of it recently.Are his parents in a position to pay his tuition fees and living costs? A minor is not legally allowed to enter into a loan agreement.
I think that university is about more than the academics: it's also about growing up and becoming an independent, self-reliant, fully functional adult. He won't be able to do this (as pp have said, he will need to live in halls for longer, won't be able to participate in lots of the social activities, etc etc) properly, so I would strongly counsel taking a gap year and then going at 18.
It is possible for under 18s to take out student loans. It is really not that unusual for students to be under 18, particularly students finishing school in Scotland. From Student Loan Company:
"If you enter into one or more loan agreements with SLC before you’re 18 years old, you’ll be asked to ratify the agreement(s) once you turn 18. Ratification means to formally declare that you entered into the loan agreement. This is a necessary precondition of your eligibility for student support if you wish to apply for further funding after you turn 18. Once you are 18 or older, you will ratify any loan agreement which you entered into before you reached the age of 18 years old when signing the declaration for further student finance. If you’ve entered into a loan agreement before turning 18 and don’t apply for any further student finance, SLC will contact you about the ratification process, to ensure that your eligibility for future funding is not affected."
You do not need to live in halls for longer just because you are under 18, either.
I am not advocating somebody going before they are ready, but it's best to discuss with the universities/courses concerned the specific circumstances of this case.
I had an applicant last year who was very young - her 17th birthday was just around the time of her bac. I looked quite hard into the implications of being 17 for the whole of first year and there weren't many, bar restrictions on which halls of residence she could apply to, but I recall UCL not being keen on students younger than 17, such as yours. My applicant was very brilliant (great predicted grades and got > 19/20 overall in her bac S) yet got no offer from a couple of universities she should have. Was it her age? We didn't explore, but I would think it worth ringing round for your applicant.
Thanks so much everyone. I did ring around and got a lot of "we'll email you back" . Luckily he has now reconsidered the whole thing and has decided a year in prepa is a good idea. That takes the pressure off hugely as getting a Cambridge application together in such a short time is lunacy
I had a student that went to Oxbridge at 17 having moved a year ahead at some point.
She was academically fine but you could see she wasn't emotionally as mature as her peers.
I went to University at 17 and I thought I was ready, and I really felt I needed to get away from my messed-up household, but it was very difficult. I was fine academically, but I did feel a bit pushed socially that first year or so.
We have known several students start well known London Universities at 16 or younger, including a French 16 year old. The advantage she had was that her parents lived in London so it was a bit like going to sixth form college. Special freshers events are laid on for the under 18s and the clubbing/drinking student culture is quite easy for many students, especially those from overseas, to avoid.
Oxbridge may be harder as you would be clearly younger than your peers in your College.
OH did maths at Oxford with Ruth Lawrence, think she was 13 at the time. Lived out of college with family, with college's permission, and OH said dad used to go with her to lectures. I do appreciate that she is/was a phenomenal talent, but that is not what I would want my DD's uni experience to be like.
Oxbridge may be harder as you would be clearly younger than your peers in your College.
But you may well not be the only one. When I was an undergraduate there were at least half a dozen students in my College year (as well as me) who were younger than 18. Nowadays there are still a fair few who are 17 or so for the first year. It really isn't an issue if you have always been out of year and are used to socialising with students a year or so older than you. Bear in mind that there will also be many students who are 19+ in their first years, due to gap years and different school leaving ages in different countries, so a range of ages and maturities.
BTW one feature in Oxbridge is that social life is based around the college and the college bar teams do not ask for ID as the bars are not open to the public. So there's really no problem in joining most social events when you are under 18.
I agree however that in cases such as Ruth Lawrence, where the student is very much younger and still lives with parents, the student does not have a typical university experience.
monkey you may have got your answer a few days ago but I'll chip in by saying that applications from students who won't be 18 by the first day of the academic year are usually considered by a panel, not just the academic selectors, and the panel will take several factors into account, not just that the applicant has excelled academically. Speak to the universities in question, specifically the departments, and take it from there.
I started uni at 17 in 2005 and it caused a whole load of administrative nightmares at enrolement.
I was moved up a year at secondary school hence being a year early. I went through the same application process (UCAS) as everyone else and loan was sorted no problem too. My problems arose after I had relocated to London (on my own) and turned up at the uni on the first week to enrol and get my ID card etc.
They refused to let me register as I was not 18. You'd think that at some point during an entire year of application process someone would have mentiined that but no, not once.
It was a bit ridiculous really. They said they did not want to be responsible for me etc. I was not living in uni accomodation, I was renting privately anyway.
Luckily, my birthday is in October anyway so by the time lectures started I was finally registered but it did mean I lost two weeks which would have been a good time to make friends etc.
So I would say, every dept that you speak to, confirm with them it is allowed and GET IT IN WRITING so you can refer back to it in future.
I went to GS a year early, which worked til I was about 15, when the social gap between me and my friends opened up.
I took a gap year (where I went to work in Germany) before starting uni in my 'correct' year group, a decision I'm glad I made.
I went at 17 as I was a year ahead at school and pretty bright - won entrance scholarship to university, univesrity prizes etc. I was also very very mature for my age and in factr much more grown up than many of the 18 and 19 y ear olds. It worked out fine. By Head by the way said I could not apply for Oxbridge because I was "too young" (no one had ever been to Oxbridge from my school at that point) and I did not press the point but it was obviously an issue in those days too.
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