Entrance 2020. When do we start looking?

(32 Posts)
CoddledAsAMommet Fri 25-Jan-19 20:00:59

I'm after some help, please. Dd is in her first year of A-levels, studying Maths, Modern History and English Language. She's looking to go to university in Sept 2020 but I don't know when we should start looking for courses, ordering prospectuses (is that still a thing?) and looking to do tours. Could anyone help, please? Her college is very good but an hour's commute every day so we're not at all involved in whatever advice they may be giving. I'm desperate not to leave it too late! Thank you.

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MarchingFrogs Fri 25-Jan-19 20:33:16

Does she know what she wants to study? And/or does she have some thoughts about general location, e.g. 'within three hours from home', 'Scotland' etc?

The main open day season is from June to October, but universities do run open days at other times and campus tours (accompanied by student guides and self-guided) throughout most of the year, includong the holidays.

I'm sure the college will be offering lots of advice re the whole process, but there is nothing to stop her - or you - having a good rummage around in the UCAS website as a starting point.

Which?Uni, WhatUni and TSR (The Student Room) are also useful sources of information.

Applications (wjich are done via UCAS Apply, open in early September and there are two main deadlines, October 15th if applying to Oxford / Cambridge or for Medicine, dentistry or Veterinary medicine and January 15th for most other places / courses.

CoddledAsAMommet Fri 25-Jan-19 20:59:50

That is wonderfully helpful, thank you. She's done some work experience with teenagers with special needs which she loved and is interested in doing something around that, but I'm keen to push her to look at employment opportunities before narrowing down options. She's had some Mental Health issues so I have concerns about her being too far away. She's definitely not the type to want to be in a city; I think a campus or mid-sized town would be best.
I remember choosing my university on 'feel' alone (that and it was in central London which felt enormously cool) but there's so much more to think about these days. She's generally very anxious so I think starting early would be good. We went for a weekend to Norwich and I think somewhere like that would be perfect.

OP’s posts: |
CoddledAsAMommet Fri 25-Jan-19 21:01:22

P.s. I know Norwich is a city, but it's a little one!

OP’s posts: |
ragged Fri 25-Jan-19 21:08:25

Do they still order prospectuses? I thought all that online pdfs, now.
DD had a futures lecture recently about types of Uni, 6th forms should be warming up to nudging them to make decisions.

Look for university fairs near you. And Open Days.

MarchingFrogs Fri 25-Jan-19 21:48:33

P.s. I know Norwich is a city, but it's a little one!

smile. I shall be there again with DD at half term when she attends an offer holder day at UEA (beautiful campus and, despite a certain alternative opinion expressed on a different thread, generally regarded as a rather good university).

HarryTheSteppenwolf Fri 25-Jan-19 22:21:51

Universities do still print prospectuses. Initial contact with students is often made at HE/careers fairs, where you want to give them something to take a way and there's much more likelihood of their flicking through a paper prospectus than of opening up a PDF on a branded USB stick. The prospectus will also be available for download fom the web site.

OP, there is such a huge range of courses available it's better for your daughter to either (a) start from a job she knows she would like to do and work backwards down the career path to see what qualifications she would need, or (b) identify an area she wants to work in, look for any kind of course that's related and look for some indication of what the students who took those courses went on to do.

She also needs to be aware that her degree doesn't necessarily have to be directly related to her A-levels. As an example, say from her work experience with teenagers with special needs she identifies educational psychology as something she might be interested in, she might find web sites like these: careers.bps.org.uk/area/educational; www.prospects.ac.uk/job-profiles/educational-psychologist. Then looking a bit further she might find that there is a government programme to recruit educational psychologists: www.gov.uk/guidance/educational-psychology-funded-training-scheme, and looking at the entry requirements (www.aep.org.uk/training/#A1) she'll see that she'd need a degree in psychology. If she looks for details of those she might see that the University of Bristol, as a random example, has entry requirements for its psychology BSc of A*AA/AAB including a science-related subject (e.g. maths). That pathway from maths A-level to a career as an educational psychologist isn't likely to leap out if you just start with the question, "What can I do with A-levels in maths, history & English language?": it's much better to start at the other end and work backwards.


VanCleefArpels Sat 26-Jan-19 08:35:28


Summer term - open days (only for super keen usually, don’t worry if not possible)
Over summer holidays: work experience, start thinking about personal statement (loads of YouTube videos and other online guidance on this if you are unfamiliar)
Autumn term upper sixth - Open days (a must), complete personal statement, make final 5 choices, school does reference etc, UCAS form is submitted
Spring term U6 - offers roll in, offer holder days if you need another look, choose accommodation for firm choice

I’m going through this for the second time!

ShanghaiDiva Sat 26-Jan-19 08:52:17

I think you can do quite a lot of research at home. Ds went to a university fair and picked up a few prospectuses. We researched the following - league tables, employment opportunities, exemptions from professional examinations etc and then had a list of about 8 universities. Ds and I made a list of questions - some were his, some were mine - regarding course, location, accommodation, cost, sports facilities etc and then had a list of 5 and these were the ones he applied to.
Ds went to the university fair in December of year 12 (we live overseas, so not so many opportunities)and we did the rest of the research over the summer between years 12 and 13 and he drafted personal statement. At the start of year 13 (mid august for us) he had his statement ready to be reviewed by school and submitted application to UCAS in the September.
I am sure most Mumsnetters will be horrified to learn we did not visit any of the universities. Ds is now in his first year at Warwick (his first choice) and enjoys his course and campus life.

GoGoJo Sat 26-Jan-19 08:57:38

Ucas fairs start from March so find your local one and start there. Then open days June/July and September usually. You ideally should have narrowed down to course and a long list of say 8 unis by September/October time ready to apply in the autumn term.

Decorhate Sat 26-Jan-19 09:01:36

If you want to go to several Open Days, you really need to try to do some in June, as otherwise you spend every weekend of the Autumn term trekking around the country.

Those of you who don’t feel the need to do Open Days will be shocked to hear that ds went to 10 in total!!

For him, it was very important to both get a feel for the university & city and also attend the subject talks. But that is his personality & others will be more laid back.

lifebegins50 Sat 26-Jan-19 09:02:55

If you want a book to consolidate all the info, HEAP is still around and also online.

General rule is course first then location. I think this summer term is when the thinking needs to be done. If she is Oxbridge then it's Oct application so prep starts early in Yr12.

ragged Sat 26-Jan-19 09:06:01

I got impression a lot of places have their Open Days on exact same day(s) in Autumn. Can't be 2 places at once, so attending some June-July Open days are a good idea if they can get organised in time to select possible destinations.

DD declared she will NOT work on any of her application process until after her A-level exams in mid June. hmm. & she wonders why I question her commitment.

goodbyestranger Sat 26-Jan-19 09:30:44

VanCleefArpels your timetable is out of sync with what my DC have done. I've had seven go through the process and my eighth and youngest is in Y12, like the OP's.

OP, parents at our school were sent notification of various higher ed events a couple of days ago. There's a parents' evening at school in mid March to outline the procedure and the whole of Y12 will go a few days later to the regional UCAS fair which is a huge event held at the county showground. Each student is allowed two days off school in Y12 to attend Open Days but no more.

As far as work experience goes, school allocates a week in the October of Y11 and another week in early March of Y12. Leaving it until the summer of Y12 as VanCleefArpels suggests, without having previously done any at all, seems quite little quite late but then if it's going to be related to the course the students needs to have decided on which one and plenty haven't narrowed it down by Y11. If the work experience isn't related to the course in some way then it's a waste of space on the personal statement to talk about it. But your DD seems to have already done some in a field she enjoys, so that's all good, and she seems to be nudging in the vocational direction so the work experience was clearly useful.

My own DC also didn't do Open Days except for the school organised trip to Oxford in June of Y12 so they're certainly not a must, but with your DD's particular needs then going to look at places (not necessarily on formal Open Days), is a really good idea. In your situation, if it's possible, I'd go sooner rather than later during the uni term time to get a feel for places while students are around (lots of uni towns and cities feel very different when they've emptied out) and finding somewhere your DD feels inclined towards may well help generally with her anxiety and give her a positive focus, especially if there are a couple of places you can identify which tick her boxes incl not being too far from home. The term time dates of the unis will all be on the internet - very easy to look up.

VanCleefArpels Sat 26-Jan-19 09:37:08

Just speaking from experience, I’m sure there are many ways to skin this particular cat goodbyestranger

goodbyestranger Sat 26-Jan-19 10:14:52

Sure VanCleefArpels. Lots of ways and different DC need or prefer to do different things (although my seven have done pretty much the same routine each time, as it happens, but then they all go to the same school etc). The wording of our post just seemed to suggest your approach was the one way to go, even if you didn't intend it like that.

MarchingFrogs Sat 26-Jan-19 10:21:42

Each student is allowed two days off school in Y12 to attend Open Days but no more.

Both the school where DS1 did A levels and the one DD attends - both grammar schools - are more flexible than this. DS1's allowed 5 days off in total and DD's ruling iirc was not more than three days off during the summer term of year 12. DS1 had no pressing weekend commitments, so attended mainly weekend open / offer holder days, but DD works all day on Saturdays, so it has been a bit more of a balancing act and at least three visits have only been for campus tours. Another was undertaken in the guise of a taster day, so was recorded as 'educated off site' or whatever the official classification is. That one confirmed right subject area, but also, not that university, thanks.

There is an open day cslendar on TSR

ragged Sat 26-Jan-19 11:24:30

Work experience aside, from Health care & veterinary medicine... relevant to, I imagine, < 20% of applicants, which other faculties expect or see WorkExp as desirable?

CoddledAsAMommet Sat 26-Jan-19 14:02:46

Thank you everyone, there's a lot to think about here. First port of call will be to see when the UCAS fairs are on and, as you say, think about careers and work backwards. Thank you so much.

OP’s posts: |
VanCleefArpels Sat 26-Jan-19 15:25:43

One more thing- very few degree courses lead to specific careers - law, medicine, vet, dentistry, social work, architecture, engineering, computer science etc being obvious exceptions. If your daughter dies t have a clear pathway in mind (and the vast majority of 18 year olds do not) then best to choose something that engages her that she is good at and aim for the very best university possible for her predicted grades. That will leave doors open for her in the longer term

HarryTheSteppenwolf Sat 26-Jan-19 21:37:08

One more thing- very few degree courses lead to specific careers - law, medicine, vet, dentistry, social work, architecture, engineering, computer science etc being obvious exceptions.

Law isn't an exception: lots of lawyers don't have law degrees, and relatively few law graduates become lawyers.

Xenia Sun 27-Jan-19 08:22:57

For the higher paid jobs that want peple with the highest A level grades they tend to recruit onthe whole from those universities where it is harder to get into. That is something to bear in mind if she is likely to get As at A level and wants a higher paid career rather than just assuming all universities will be equal to all employers.

brizzledrizzle Sun 27-Jan-19 16:59:56

^ What Xenia said. My DD is in her 2nd year and flat shares with somebody at a uni with lower entry requirements who is doing the same subject. The assignments DD gets are much harder than the assignments that her flatmate gets - DD and her flatmate both reckon that it's easier to get a first from the lower entry uni than the uni that DD is at which is fairly hard to get into (A*A*A instead of BCC)

fluffyhamster Sun 27-Jan-19 18:56:39

I'd say it's a good idea to go to at least one or two open days in the March - June period of you can as it begins to get them focussed on the process over the summer period. By September they will need to be worrying about personal statement and revision for mocks etc, not spending every weekend traipsing about the country.
Also, if you go to open days which require an overnight stay book accommodation (and parking, if it's somewhere like Durham!) EARLY as thousands of hopeful students and their parents will be converging at the same time.

Also - even if they're not applying to Oxbridge it's a good idea to get the UCAS form in early, rather than leaving it to the eleventh hour in January. Most universities begin to make offers as soon as they receive applications and it's a huge boost to the student's confidence and peace of mind to have some offers under their belt by Christmas!

brizzledrizzle Sun 27-Jan-19 19:38:55

That's a good point about parking, you'd need to book it for Bristol but tbh you'd be better with the train as Bristol is a nightmare to drive round when you aren't used it - unless you live in a congested city already.

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