It is current government policy to work towards a university student population of 50% of 18 year-old school leavers. It follows that virtually every pupil at Read, who wishes to have a university place can have one - provided that sensible applications to the right universities are made at the right time.
The Sixth Form tutor team aims to provide tutorial support, but also to assist in maximising the potential for that all-important university application, with a great deal of time spent on developing personal statements (Upper Sixth students); the resumé of achievements and input into society thus far. It is in this part of the university application or CV that celebrates all of the achievements and responsibilities gained from enrichment. In addition to monitoring the work and progress of individual students, tutors will also discuss with students their career and university plans and help them to find the appropriate information at the right time.
Advice is available to all students from Sixth Form Tutors, teachers and from the Careers Service. It is never too early to start thinking about this. Many Sixth Formers have no idea of what they would like to do in their career, or what they might study at university, therefore investigating possibilities as soon as possible is the best way to ensure the right choice is made. All Lower Sixth Formers use the software packages Higher Ideas and Centigrade, which will provide ideas about appropriate careers, courses and universities in response to declared interests and aptitudes. This is a good starting point. Indeed, the Centigrade package provides a unique, bespoke set of possible university and career choices from questionnaire outcomes, and is among the most advanced and well-regarded pieces of research software of its type in the world.
Visits to open days at local universities are also encouraged and documented, so that students quickly get a feel for what kind of university they want to study at: campus or city centre based. These tend to happen during the summer term of the Lower Sixth and the autumn term of the Upper. It is also a good idea to take a little time to visit likely universities during the Easter holidays during the Lower Sixth year. Here at Read, we aim to have most UCAS forms completed by October half term, long before the January deadline. Many degree subjects do not lead directly into a career; medicine, engineering and law (though not always) are exceptions. Most degrees are simply a starting point for careers for ‘graduates in any discipline’: i.e. non-vocational. With a degree qualification, many more career opportunities are available. It is, therefore, important to choose a subject that particularly interests you and that you enjoy.
Applications to Oxford or Cambridge
These universities have extremely high admissions requirements and are very selective. Applications have to be received by 15 October of the Upper Sixth year, and should have been well researched beforehand. Applicants should have a GCSE profile with a considerable number of A*/A grades in it and have the potential to achieve three A grades or better at A Level. Any student interested should discuss this with tutors or with the Head of Sixth Form early in the Lower Sixth year. Visits to the universities and the individual colleges are recommended.
UCAS points system
Universities make conditional offers to A Level students – conditional on certain achievements at A Level. These may be in the form of certain grades in specified subjects or a total number of points achieved from Sixth Form examination successes.
Points are awarded for specific grades achieved:
A university may typically ask for 260 points. Unless other conditions are made (including a B in mathematics, for example) these points can be collected in any way.
Check the small print in many university prospectuses: they can sometimes expect a certain combination of A2 and AS Levels; or have a bolted on requirement qualification from elsewhere (such as an IELTS language qualification). They have been known to ask for higher grades at a later date than their prospectuses originally stated.
Virtually all students who wish to apply to university are placed in their first choice universities, with a few in their second choice, but it would be highly unusual for anyone to be left without a suitable placement.