Summer Summary

As the school year draws to a close, we try to make sense of what just happened, and what happens next.

Travel and in-person attendance seems to be well and truly back (sort of).

Exams at school and university are (more or less) back to exam halls on paper.

With this veneer of ‘back to normal’ assessing global university admission trends is only confusing for parents where the landscape is very different from their time, for students who’ve had older siblings going through the process, and for professionals (like me) who’ve seen trends come and go and come back again.

For any student tackling the process for the first time, whatever is happening is a unique experience.

Lots of my advice hasn’t changed.

Students need to be honest with themselves about what their strengths and weaknesses are and what they want when choosing a place of higher education to study in.

Nothing beats the fundamental research of finding out what a course or place might be like. These days there are so many You Tube channels / virtual tours / etc. you don’t need to wait for an Open Day to find out about the character of a place and whether or not you think you might suit it.

If applying in the UK, do look at the course. What does it mean to study a subject you’ve not taken at school? What’s involved in that? The more you read, listen, and really get to grips of what that means, the more likely you are to choose something you genuinely want to spend 3 years doing more of.

At Oxford, interviews remain virtual, at Cambridge, a few colleges (Trinity, Pembroke, Peterhouse, Gonville & Caius, Kings, Selwyn) have opted for in-person IF you’re based in UK or Ireland. Pre-interview assessments are different, so make sure you know what’s required and who has to register you and by when.

Despite rumours to the contrary (including very confusing messaging from UCAS), references are still required. How much they’re used depends on the university you’re applying to.

Thinking of the US? OK, a lot murkier here. Do you or do you not need an SAT or ACT (or CLT)? Well, if you’re applying to the University of California system, definitely not. But surely tests are fundamental to a US college application… well only if you have Georgetown, MIT, and a few others in Florida.

What about across Europe? There are ‘scare’ stories each year of the problem of students in the Netherlands finding housing. Actually, nothing new. The universities have always been honest about a housing shortage. That doesn’t apply to students at the University College system which is residential.

The more questions you ask of yourself, your teachers, your parents, the more likely it is that you’re going to be able to take the next step well.

How about a difficult one in the first place for some? WHY do you want to go to Higher Education?