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HE: Oxbridge and other Unis

(118 Posts)
Crummymum Fri 16-Nov-12 11:33:26


I'm looking to home ed my DS at secondary level (in a year's time). I'm just starting to investigate the ins and outs of this, but I was talking with an Oxford-educated friend of mine about this and he said that Oxbridge don't like home educated children and usually won't take them. Is this true? And what is their rationale? My DC may not want to study there when they reach that stage, but I wouldn't like to think I'd reduced their options.

Also, how do universities in general feel about exams being taken 1,2,3 at a time, rather than 9 or so GCSE's or 3 A'levels all being taken in one year?

Any advice would be really appreciated smile

morethanpotatoprints Thu 29-Nov-12 21:31:49

Hi, I know I have come to this late but would like to agree that some H.ed dc take it upon themselves to find out about uni, college and UCAS points, very early.
My dd is doing this for herself now and she is only 8. Now I admit part of this is because she has older brothers who have been through this, but the fact remains she is working it out now. She has found a route into what she wants to do and she believes she will have more than a third of the points required by age 14. I think most parents are aware of the importance of qualifications. I too read the post of the person whose mother was against exams but this could equally apply to a schooled person. I myself left school at 14 going back at 15 to take a few CSE's only because my parents would have to pay if I didn't. They didn't even know I didn't go to school any more.

exoticfruits Wed 28-Nov-12 17:09:03

I think the 'awareness of options' is the important thing. They are all clearly set out on the UCAS site. What you decide to do is up to you, but you need to be aware.

Crummymum Wed 28-Nov-12 16:07:54

Thanks for all the replies and ensuing debate! Unintentionally, I got an insight into the various debates within home education! It seems there are as many as there are educational pedagogies within formal school education. The hoped-for beauty of home ed is that it suits you and your family, rather than the one size fits all style of schools.

I think, personally, I would err more on exoticfruits side but I do see that not all children want or are ready for this. I think awareness of options is desirable, so one can fully exercise choice.

Thank you for all the interesting responses.

exoticfruits Thu 22-Nov-12 07:37:19

In answer to OP, who seems to have got lost in this, if your DC wants to do an unpopular subject in an unpopular university you can probably gamble on 'doing it your way'- it is all about money and places need to be filled. However, if you want a popular subject, in a popular university, then competition is intense and you need to maximise your chances by offering the basics asked for and more.
You can gamble on a sympathetic admissions tutor who will look on a 'different' application favourable, but it is a gamble. The application may be sifted out on criteria before it is read. Competition is more intense than it used to be, this may ease off with the higher tuition fees but Oxbridge will always be highly competitive. It depends whether you are a gambler or not- I would play safe with my DCs futures and make sure that they have the exams taken and all in one go. I don't think there is any harm in doing a few early, but I never understand why you need to do them early.

exoticfruits Wed 21-Nov-12 16:07:51

I am all for changing the present system but, at the moment, if we were to use our personal opinions we would be damaging our DCs futures - as in my example of the woman who didn't have them because her mother didn't believe in them. Future students ought to go on UCAS find out what they need and get it, not say 'we know it is asked for, but we think differently and haven't bothered'!

julienoshoes Wed 21-Nov-12 13:56:02

Given the discussion here, this is an interesting possible development
Online courses provided by some of the top universities in the United States are going to be used by students at local community colleges, in a project funded by the Gates Foundation.

"If such open access online courses no longer required A-levels as an entry exam, she raised the question about what this would mean for the future of the qualification.

"What will be the point of our education system when university degrees can be accessed without A-level qualifications?" asked Ms Robinson in her speech in Liverpool.

"Will we have a freer sixth form curriculum and will our education system look more like the American one? And if we lose the necessity of our narrow three A-level prescribed university route, will there be need for GCSEs or even English Baccalaureate Certificates - personally I cannot see one and we all know that some of us are questioning the validity of them anyway.""

exoticfruits Tue 20-Nov-12 22:39:57

I don't think you are painting a rosy picture of your own experience, I believe it is just as you say. It isn't however everyone's experience - they are not lucky enough to live in such a supportive area.

exoticfruits Tue 20-Nov-12 22:36:57

I really don't know what you are arguing about Julie- you appear to be talking about young people who are clued up about what they want to do and are getting on with it.
I am talking about something entirely different- young people who are not clued up- get doors closed and then either can never do it or find it very difficult. An example was a poster recently who was HEed, didn't do any exams- not through her own choice but because her mother didn't believe in them! She had done quite well but had got as far as she could and was stuck from going further or changing because she didn't have the right qualifications. She was married with children and couldn't afford to go and do it. Had her mother let her do her exams at the right age she wouldn't have been handicapped.
You are on obviously not going to keep your adult children, Julie, precisely because they are doing it now.
There is no need to go to university- I think that more and more will think it not worth the money- but they do need to keep the door open.

seeker Tue 20-Nov-12 17:55:13

Julie- of course you're not lying or misrepresenting your own experience. As I said, your children are doing fantastically well and you must be incredibly proud. What I am saying is that I am not lying or misrepresenting my experience either. And people need to be as aware of mine as of yours. Because they both are real and valid.

julienoshoes Tue 20-Nov-12 12:50:51

Why would you think I am having to keep my adult children exoticfruits?
They have been involved in all of the choices about their lives and the finances were always included.
They have always known that me giving up my career to home educate-and therefore the opportunity to save for their university careers, would mean they have to finance all Higher Education themselves and they would have to pay their way....and they most certainly do.

and I agree with SDeuchars last post.....and my experience is that home educated young people DO look at what they need for their future plans...sometimes before school children address it, sometimes afterwards.

I'm not going to argue with you again about what my reality is, or the reality of the home ed families I know. I have stated it as I see it, I am not lying nor painting a rosy picture. Just stating my experience.

SDeuchars Tue 20-Nov-12 09:59:57

I absolutely agree with both your last two posts, Seeker and ExoticFruits - if a HE DC wants to go to uni at 18ish, then looking to see what they need in the way of academic qualifications and then finding out how to get them is the most sensible thing to do. In fact, I don't think there is a regular poster on this board with older DC who has not done that.

There was a tendency until the early 2000s for HEers to say that any job or uni was open to "portfolio" applications. That may have been true in the 1980s and 1990s (and may well have been the historical experience of HE parents then) but it is almost never seen these days - except for practical art and music courses. What is talked about is DC who get jobs (sometimes with training or apprenticeships) on the strength of volunteering in a hobby passion such as sailing, conservation and horseriding. They do not necessarily have the advertised entry-level GCSEs but the people who get them started know them and know they can do the work. They then get the qualifications that they need to proceed.

Uni is not right for everyone at 18ish and I think being out of school makes it easier for DC (and their families) to consider other alternatives. I didn't go to uni (at 18 from a comp) because I had any specific ambition - it was because I was fulfilling other people's ambitions.

One of the reason I HEed was to remove that sort of pressure from my DC. We fell into the DC doing OU courses at 13-14 more or less by accident - because school exams were inappropriate for the DC's level of knowledge. As it turns out, the DC are reasonably academic but I would have been very happy for them to do a practical trade.

exoticfruits Tue 20-Nov-12 08:29:07

You will only get into a university on the strength of a portfolio if they have asked for one!
It is very easy-go to UCAS click on the institution you want, find the course and find the entry requirements. Even if you are doing art based subjects they want more than a portfolio.
It is foolish-not to say unfair to the rest-just to try and by pass it all and say in an arrogant way-it wasn't on my timetable to spend my time on someone else's syllabus but I am just the sort of student you want!
Ucas is perfectly clear. A good idea to look at it before you are 16yrs.

exoticfruits Tue 20-Nov-12 07:19:05

Sorry again-should have read - look on a HE candidate favourably.

exoticfruits Tue 20-Nov-12 07:17:04

I agree with seeker- that is what I was trying to say about the 'rosy ' picture. I think it unfair to make it all look so easy - it isn't. It has got harder even in the last 3years. HEers know that many people have prejudice about HE, that is why they get so touchy. University admission tutors and employers will have the whole range of opinions- I don't know why it assumed that they will all look on a HEed candidate. Safer to get the right pieces of paper than trust to chance.

exoticfruits Tue 20-Nov-12 07:12:33

Sorry iPad pots not pits

exoticfruits Tue 20-Nov-12 07:11:25

I doubt if you are going to be able to afford to keep an adult DC with dependants,Julie, if they decide to do it on their own timetable. My father had help but he still couldn't afford his first choice because he couldn't have done it with the day job.

I suspect that we are again at cross purposes and you are talking about DCs who are more or less on the general timetable. I was 19yrs when I left school, a friend was a year ahead of her school year and went to university at 17yrs, my DS's girlfriend left school just after ASs, worked and then decided to go to university so went to college and got the A'levels and went 2years later than she would have done. It is very usual. It isn't in the least what I am talking about- no doors have been closed.

I am talking about those who failed to get the qualifications they needed and that door are closed so they have a very stressful time and great financial hardship to get them - so that it makes sense to get them at the right age(with a little flexibility) so that they keep the doors open, if they need them in the future. Unless you do have the pits of money you are not going to be able to support an adult child with dependants.

I don't really know why we are arguing- your examples are quite clearly sensible DCs who make sure the doors are open- even if they don't do it a set way. The way doesn't really matter.

I know that I paint a rosy picture of schools and it isn't like that for many families, but I feel that you paint a very rosy picture of HE families, Julie, that I have no doubt is absolutely true, and if you lived in your area it would be a fantastic experience for most, however I do feel that some people must read it and feel despondent because their experience of HE is very different.

seeker Tue 20-Nov-12 07:02:29

Julie- I know your children have done incredibly well, and that's truly wonderful. But I do worry that your "come on in the water's lovely" may well give people unreasonable expectations.

It is a fact that it is - well, I was going to say impossible, but I will change the to "vanishingly unlikely" - that you would get into medical school, or law school, or an oversubscribed university on the strength of a portfolio alone. And once you have missed your intake, your chances of getting in, even with all the conventional qualifications diminishes. And the days when you could get into Oxford on the strength of a brilliant essay-or, more likely, on the strength of a letter from your father to his old tutor- are long gone.

And it's not going to get any easier. And people starting on the HE journey need to know this.

julienoshoes Mon 19-Nov-12 23:48:18

"if you have pots of money"

Ha! I gave up a career to do this. My dh has been retired on the grounds of ill health for more years than I care to remember. We have done this on next to no money. My children have a very healthy respect for money-but have been in all along on the choices we have made and fully support them.
I know hundreds of home educating families now. I know one HE family that has pots of money.

Seeker-I hear what you have been saying, I know it is your reality, but can't agree with it-it simply is not my experience or that of others that I know. So I don't know what you want me or others whose experience is like mine to say?

I have parented a child who has gone right the way through school as well, I know the ups and downs of that.... and for us there is no downside on any aspect of HE

seeker Mon 19-Nov-12 19:06:26

Not aimed at anyone in particular, SDeuchars- just at the general attitude among mumsnet HEers that therenis non space for suggesting that th is even the possibility of even a tiny glimmer of q downside to any aspect of HE.

And on a personal level that my knowledge and experience counts for nothing and is either completely ignored or negated. But I do realise that's my problem!

exoticfruits Mon 19-Nov-12 18:35:49

I forgot to say-my father couldn't do his first choice-the doors were closed-it had to be second choice.

exoticfruits Mon 19-Nov-12 18:31:16

All I am saying is that they need the facts. It would make sense to me to go to college and get them for free at 16-it isn't school.
I would definitely encourage them to get them at the right time. My father wasn't HEed, but he didn't get it at the right time. Had we not been able to live with my Grandfather he couldn't have fulfilled his later ambitions and as it was he had to do it all with a full time job. It must have been stressful in the extreme. It is all very well saying 'do it on your own timetable' if you have pots of money-most people don't and need to get on and do it to someone else's timetable.

SDeuchars Mon 19-Nov-12 17:34:30

The money aspect definitely worries most home educators, IME. It is expensive and difficult to do GCSEs outside the school system. That is why many go into college at 16 and do GCSEs and A-levels there, a year or so behind their school peers. Until September 2013, college cannot easily be accessed for free by under 16s. (And I'm reserving judgement on how easy it will be then.)

My father did his late-it wasn't easy when he had a day job, had to work in the evenings and had 2 small children. He got exactly where he wanted in the end-but he would have been much better off doing it when everyone else did.

I'm guessing that he was not forcibly prevented by an irresponsible and shortsighted HEing parent, LOL. So it can be done, whatever has caused the delay. I think most of us would agree that it is easier to study without family responsibilities. IMO, that does not necessarily mean doing 9 GCSEs at 16, 4 A-levels at 18 and a degree at 21/22. As HEers, we are saying that there are other (not necessarily more difficult) ways of getting to the same end point.

It is certainly more efficient in time for a motivated young person to do GCSEs from home. That still does not mean that they want or need to do 9 - many colleges only want 5 to admit for A levels (and there are many validated stories where less than 5 have been accepted, unlike the "entry to uni with no formal qualifications" stories). If you only need 5 GCSEs, then many people will only do 5 GCSEs so that the rest of the time is spent doing other things that they would rather do.

Some of Julie's DCs are doing things on a very different schedule from what typical DC would have done at school. But had it been left up to school, Julie's DCs would have no qualifications or any chance of them. You may think that the average DC can do things just like in school but unless you are supporting our DC, you are not really in a position to say that we are spoiling their life chances. My DC are happy to have been involved in the decisions about their education all the way along. My DS is now having his choices constrained because he decided to do A levels at college - he had the option of doing them from home.

exoticfruits Mon 19-Nov-12 17:14:35

Maybe you don't worry about the money aspect-it is the thing that would worry me and the issue of doing it when young-not with a partner and children. Some people want to but simply can't.

julienoshoes Mon 19-Nov-12 17:09:44

and I have now seen countless people do it, successfully on their own timetable...sometimes before others and sometimes later.

"I would definitely try and get them to see it"
Okay. I get that you would.

It's not my way...but hey that's okay too.

Probably why I home educated so happily

exoticfruits Mon 19-Nov-12 17:03:40

IME it's much better to do an exam when you are ready/interested/motivated, than just because it's when everyone else does

That may well be true, but financially and responsibility wise it is much more sensible to do it when everyone else does. My father did his late-it wasn't easy when he had a day job, had to work in the evenings and had 2 small children. He got exactly where he wanted in the end-but he would have been much better off doing it when everyone else did. My mother was always held back because she didn't get the right bit of paper-and she never did get it.

If you are going to run it on your own timetable I should get all the facts first-you may be well be sensible to run it in someone else's-at least it holds the doors open if you want them later.
I know countless people who have had hard slog and sacrifice doing it in mid life. When you are young and supported by your parents, without dependants, is much the best option and I would definitely try and get them to see it.

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