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taster courses at uni for 6th formers - what do you know?

(57 Posts)
andisa Sat 04-Feb-12 09:25:57

My son wants to do engineering at Uni. but does not know in which speciality. He is in Yr 11 and we have heard and seen on web that Universities run taster courses. I have contacted 2 universities but they do not get back.

Have your children been on taster summer schools? How did you get enrolled? Was it helpful?

ajandjjmum Sat 04-Feb-12 09:27:25

DS went to one at Loughborough for Engineering. It was useful, although he didn't go on to do engineering, one of the girls who he went with di.

senua Sat 04-Feb-12 10:15:22

Have you been to the Smallpeice Trust's website.

asiatic Sat 04-Feb-12 12:50:25

He will have to do taster course, He will be asked on his university application form which ones he did

senua Sat 04-Feb-12 14:33:59

I'm a bit hmm about that advice asiatic. Can you back up your assertion please.

andisa Sat 04-Feb-12 15:38:36

Thank you for the feedback. The Smallpiece trust website was a gem of a tip; we think we have found a course he likes the sound of, just trying to persuade a friend they might like it to, as going away from home at just turned 16
( summer babe) is a tiny bit daunting. Think he will do it though.

Slightly scary, they have to have taster courses on their app. (All so much more competitive than 30 years) maybe, is not so.

Does anyone know about the taster courses run at Surrey and Portsmouth? They have not got back to me.

BackforGood Sat 04-Feb-12 15:42:29

Ignore that about having done taster courses. Thousands of students go off to University every year withou having done taster courses.

wigwaminamustardmill Sat 04-Feb-12 15:45:06

My DS did a Smallpeice course last summer at just 16 and is going on another one this summer. Don't worry about your son going on his own, apparently almost everyone there had come alone.

roisin Sat 04-Feb-12 15:52:48

I tried to encourage ds1 to do a Smallpeice Trust course this summer, but he wasn't confident enough to commit himself. :-(

andisa Sat 04-Feb-12 16:33:22

Thank you for the feedback. All very helpful.

betternextlife Sun 05-Feb-12 11:33:38

My uni is part of a consortium who runs taster courses, but they are there to encourage students who are less likely to appy to university. The information is not generally available but send to targeted schools/pupils so you would not be able to apply directly.

I have work in HE for 20 years and I have never heard of a requirement to have done a taster course. Some courses do ask for relevant experience (eg woking with animals for vet science) but there are usually a variety of ways to get this to ensure a wide pool of applicantions.

asiatic Mon 06-Feb-12 20:36:33

Senua, look at a UCAS form ( universityv application form) There is a section on events attended in preparation for application. This is expected to be taster courses, and /or master classes ( basically the same, master classes tend to be slightly lower level, but not necessarily) There is space in the application form to fill in three, and an explanation in the notes that any further courses attended should be discussed in the personal statement. You are expected, in the statement/at the interview, to discuss these experiances

senua Mon 06-Feb-12 22:31:18

There is a difference between a section on the form (UCAS's advice is "If you've not taken any courses, leave the related sections blank.") and your original comment that an applicant "will have to do a taster course". Your comment could cause unnecessary panic.

If it was true that all applicants had to have attended a taster course then they might as well put up signs saying "rich kids only need apply". They would never do back-door discrimination like that.

cory Mon 06-Feb-12 23:09:30

What universities expect ime is not that you tick the boxes for attending precisely the right event, but that you can demonstrate that you have taken your interest further than merely sitting through your lessons and learning the curriculum.

In the interview they want to establish whether you are interested enough in your subject to go beyond the mere basics and whether you have shown any initiative in developing your interest. A project you have designed yourself or voluntary work done in a relevant field would be equally of interest. When interviewing for the English department, my colleagues usually ask what books they like reading in their spare time: the answer to this tends to be far more revealing than any taster course mummy and daddy may have signed them up for. Anything that the interviewer can take as a starting point to discuss your interest with you is worth putting down. Basically, they don't want to be stuck with lazy slobs who have no interest in the work but have only signed up for the course because they were told to, so the interview/UCAS form is very much about spotting that kind of attitude.

andisa Tue 07-Feb-12 20:00:41

The problem with Engineering is that it is not usually taught at the local comprehensive and finding work experience placements when you are an English and Drama Grad. and know little about Engineering is tricky.

The courses sound good if I can convince him - hope to- as they will give him a bit of specialist knowledge. He is very good at Maths and Science at school but this is not engineering and he needs a bit more of an insight to choose appropriately for himself.

Further to courses, or even any more courses - how could I find voluntary placements of this nature? Who knows about this?


asiatic Tue 07-Feb-12 21:19:29

What are you on about Senua? Of course you can leave the section blank. You can also leave the reference blank, the qualification section blank. Why do you think rich kids go to more taster courses than poor kids? Some are so exclusive to "disadvantaged" that you are disadbabtaged not to be disadvanaged

webwiz Tue 07-Feb-12 21:29:23

Well I think most kids DO leave that section blank asiatic as there are nowhere near enough taster courses to go around hmm

asiatic Tue 07-Feb-12 21:40:30

Certainly no students at my school havce any excuse to leave it blank. There are literally thousands of places on taster courses, and all students know what is expected. I probably delete something like 20 emails a week trying to get our students to attend more taster courses! There is no reason for anyone not to participate, other than apathy, and apathy doesn't look good on your application.

Actually, there are probably too many students out on taster4 courses sometimes, it can be disruptive

webwiz Tue 07-Feb-12 21:50:50

Well that isn't my experience - DD1 didn't do any and DD2 didn't get on the one she applied to. Out of all my friends children and all my DCs friends one has been on a taster course. DD2 and her friends are all in their first year at university and so their "apathy" hasn't been a problem. cory has it right - it is showing an interest in your subject that is important.

roisin Tue 07-Feb-12 22:08:59

I think the ease of attending taster courses can depend on your locality too. It's a long way from here to anywhere, certainly to any decent university. I hope the boys will have the opportunity to visit Universities, but it's not as easy from here as it would be if you live in the middle of a big city.

shopinstore Tue 07-Feb-12 22:13:09

Cambridge Uni does some good ones, as do other unis. The hardest part is finding out about the different courses; you just have to put the time in on the computer.

webwiz Tue 07-Feb-12 22:14:10

I think a lot of the courses give priority to "first in family to be considering university"and "schools with GCSE results below national average" which is great but we don't fit those criteria. My DCs have to shown their interest in their university subjects in other ways. Taster courses are an extra rather than an essential.

asiatic Tue 07-Feb-12 22:16:20

webwiz, I think most of our students are in those catagories, may be why we are overwelmed with taster courses. Many are free school meals only too. But don't your school get the information,? thyey should be passing it on to you.

webwiz Tue 07-Feb-12 22:25:18

My DCs school has GCSE results above the national average so they won't receive any information about courses with that as a criteria. DD2 did apply for a taster course but as DH and I have been to university she came quite low down on the relevant criteria. I don't think the school are withholding information its just that a lot of the courses are targeted at getting youngsters to consider university who may not have done otherwise. I think they provide a great opportunity but its wrong to say they are necessary for UCAS applications.

shopinstore Tue 07-Feb-12 22:41:46

Asiatic, I think one of the problems is that one of the poor teachers usually needs to fill in a form saying "Splendid Sam will make an excellent engineer and deserves a place on this course" and shuffle round other bits of admin. I really admire the teachers who, on top of everything else, actually manage to do this for taster courses.

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