Tag Archives: be prepared

UCAS APPLICATIONS – CHOOSE YOUR 5 UNIVERSITIES WISELY!

Students beginning their A2 year of A level or their final year of IB will no doubt be beginning to prepare their university applications this week if they haven’t already started. As schools and colleges go back, so upper sixth/A2 groups are encouraged to register for the UCAS system and to start taking some decisions about university. There is lots of advice available and lots of advice to give about this process, but here is my tip for the week…
Choose your five universities wisely! 
This means that you should select five institutions that you would like to study at. It sounds obvious, but you are no longer required to rank you list in order of preference. In fact this practise ended decades ago. So your choices should be of five institutions or courses that you would definitely like to go to and you should ensure you’d be happy at any of the five. This is more difficult than you might think and the temptation is to rank them in your head in order of preference anyway.
This is dangerous, because it means that you end up with a ‘fifth choice’.  Fifth! Who cares about fifth!? Two places outside of the medals in an Olympic event and not even a champions league place (if you get the football reference). The problem is that your ‘fifth choice’ is likely to also have the lowest entry requirements and therefore, if you miss your firm choice offer it could well be the place you end up.  Experience tells me that on results day students who have made their insurance offers are disappointed that they now have to go somewhere they never really thought they would end up and they never really wanted to go anyway!
Now, I hope that every gets their grades for their firm choice institution, but the reality is that many people don’t.
So consider this.  You are lucky enough to have five offers from five universities which are:
University 1 – AAB
University 2 – AAB
University 3 – AAB
University 4 – AAB
University 5 – BBB
You then have to pick two. Your firm choice and your insurance choice (note they are not called first choice and second choice – that is deliberate). If you want to have a genuine insurance policy,  University 5 HAS to be your insurance choice, even if you would rather go to any of the others. So… You had better make sure you want to go there!
A trap students often fall into is to pick a ‘fifth choice’ that has substantially lower entry requirements than the other places you apply.  Imagine the scenario above, but where university 5 had entry requirements of DDE. If you miss your grades by a fraction (say you get ABB) you may well end up going to university 5 and you may feel under-sold.
More often than not this ends up as a wasted choice in any case. Why? Because if you end up with more than two offers, imagine this scenario:
University 1 – AAB
University 2 – AAB
University 3 – ABB
University 4 – BBB
University 5 – DDE
You’re not likely to pick university 5. You didn’t want to go there any way and so wouldn’t you rather have another university to choose from than this essentially dead choice?
And so, my tip for the day and for the week is – CHOOSE WISELY! Pick an range of universities that are within your academic range and skill set. Don’t over-sell yourself and don’t under-sell yourself.
Good luck!

A NEW YEAR!

On Monday, as in many schools and colleges thought the uk, a new academic year begins. For us at Ashbourne this means registration days,  induction meetings and ‘getting-to-know-you’ for students followed by a full-day ‘welcome back’ meeting for the staff. 

As a senior manager this is arguably the most important week of the college year. For the students coming to us for the first time it is essential that the college presents itself as the modern, inclusive, successful institution we believe ourselves to be. The focus is three fold:

1. Efficiency – we have a lot of students to process in a short space of time. We need to reduce ‘hanging around time’ to a minimum, ensure there is plenty for the students to be doing and that we take their details and diseminate materials and information swiftly. 
2.  Professionalism – a slick, professional first impression is crucial.  there should be no hint that anything is going wrong (even if it is) and all staff should be well drilled and know exactly what is required of them that day. 
3.  Welcoming and friendliness – sixth firm colleges are curious places. Students join in our case from all over London and the world. Despite some bravado and some brave faces, most of them are nervous and frightened. “Will this be the same as my old school?” “I don’t know anybody here!” “Everyone seems to know someone except me!” “Everyone seems so clever/smart/good looking/popular (or whatever…)” the college staff have a very important job to do to settle nerves and make everyone feel welcome. 

If any if these don’t happen or are not delivered at 100% it is very easy to “lose a life” with the students. It is so important for them to leave with the impression that they have made a good choice, that they will be successful and welcome and that they are looking forward to getting started. 

Good luck to anyone starting a new school or college next week and good luck to the staff involved in making their first few days run smoothly.