Mapping your journey

There’s a lot of talk of journeys and maps in university applications. We talk of pathways and alternate roads, of destinations and detours. But as the admission season of 2022-23 gets underway, I feel a sense of uncertainty. Many of my colleagues whether in schools, as independent advisors, or within universities seem to have returned to the map of 2019. In looking at a map, we rely on the information being correct. To get there take this road. But reliance on maps created in the past mean that we fail actually to look at the geography around of us, of where we are and where we’re going.

 In practical terms that’s something as simple as the UCAS deadline for Oxford and Cambridge, medicine, dentistry and veterinary medicine remaining October 15th BUT the deadline to register for any entrance tests has changed to the end of September, never mind that there are separate entrance test dates for Oxford and Cambridge rather than (as on the old map) being combined on the same day. The closing of international test centres is a concern and is the cost that some ‘open’ test centres are charging. But following the old map means that I fear that students won’t necessarily know that things have changed. As for schools, the headache is to ensure that everything is done on time. Relying on past information is not going to help with current navigation.

 I’m sure that most have read the stories (or experienced) what happens when the sat-nav in a car ends with the car in the river (or in my case, down a very narrow track in rural Wales) rather than looking for other signs or following the lie of the land. Keeping an eye out, continually reassessing where you are, are ways to ensure you don’t get lost.

 What happens when things go wrong? Or you can’t align what’s on the map with what you see on the ground? The advice when you’re hiking on a mountainside is just as valid here. Rather than carrying on, stop. Pause. Drink and eat something. You need not to panic, and to plan.

What are your objectives?

My fundamental goals when working with a student is to help them navigate the path that will make them happy and successful. Knowing when to stop, when the path is the wrong one, when to find a new path is a much better plan than to plough on.

It all comes back to a much earlier blog I wrote on asking why

Being honest, and being aware of where you are and who you are will always help you find your way.