Nearly all our Sixth Form Students apply for higher education. As always, students who left us in July 2014 applied for a variety of courses, ranging across the Arts, Humanities, Social Sciences and Sciences. Art College remains a firm favourite: some students are taking an Art Foundation course as a prelude to further study in a more specialised area of Art, whilst others are spending a year on an Art Foundation course prior to taking up an academic degree at a different Higher Education Institution.
Many of our students choose to take a gap year. Some work for a period of time in order to finance travel to far-flung and exotic places; others go abroad for the entire year, either on volunteer projects around the world or to live in a country where they can learn a new language or improve their fluency in one already studied. Others apply for internships which gives them the opportunity to experience working in an industry they are particularly interested in, and which may inform their choice of subject for undergraduate study.
We take the university application process very seriously. A full programme of advice and guidance is arranged to inform and support students over the two years, enabling them to complete successful applications to universities and colleges. In Year 12, students have personal counselling from their tutors and also have access to a diagnostic test; the Centigrade Programme is run by Cambridge Occupational Analysts who specialise in the field of careers selection and advice for higher education. The system involves careful analysis of students’ achievements and aspirations, matching them with a wide range of available courses on offer in Universities.
Students should peruse the careers bookshelf situated in the Sixth Form Common Room to browse among the hundreds of prospectuses sent by Higher Education Institutions. There is a special event in the Summer Term, 'The Higher Education Conference', specifically devoted to the skills of filling in the UCAS application forms for degree courses and guiding students on personal statements. The event involves a panel of admissions tutors from a wide range of universities.
UCAS forms are started in the Summer Term of Year 12 and completed in the Autumn Term of Year 13. During this time, two members of staff are specifically employed to work alongside the Head of Year, helping students to choose courses and universities, to draft and re-draft personal statements, complete the on-line application form and to collate references.
An intensive re-focusing programme is arranged for students in the first week of Year 13, entailing workshops run by representatives from at least 10 universities. There are also mock interviews arranged throughout the term as required. Oxbridge, Music, Medicine and Veterinary Science and Dentistry candidates have to complete forms by the end of September to meet the early October deadline.
Most universities offering Medicine or Law degrees now require students to sit special papers and Oxford, Cambridge and Imperial College require entrance tests for certain subjects. Students are responsible for their registration for these exams.
Normally all other applications should be completed by the end of November to allow the school to meet the mid-January deadline. There are separate on-line and paper application forms for Music College (completed in September) and Foundation Art (completed by the end of January). A very small number of students also apply directly for an Art degree via UCAS, through what is known as the B route; these applications have to be completed by mid March.
All UCAS applications are completed on line allowing students to apply to university from anywhere in the world, even if they are taking a gap year. All of this hard work obviously pays off! Last year, 15 of our students secured places at Oxford or Cambridge and 2 have medical school places. 74% of students secured places at prestigious Russell Group universities.