Year 12 Higher Education Workshop
On Wednesday 19th June, Year 12 students spent the morning in a series of Higher Education workshop activities, focusing on the practicalities of university applications in Europe and abroad. As well as attending information and registration sessions on Portuguese universities, UCAS Apply UK, and ManageBac, the IB academic management system, they also benefitted from a number of focused presentations and practical events. A cooperative staff effort resulted in a programme that was relevant, stimulating and, best of all, aspirational. Whether students were happily "in their zone"; challenged by practical activities; taken aback by the amount of research and preparation HE entry requires; or simply fired up by the range of possibilities, they were all engaged, inquisitive and proactive throughout. We hope the knowledge they gained will open their minds as they set out on the path to their futures beyond school.
Personal Writing for HE
In this plenary session, students learned about the differences between UK personal statements, which must be subject-focused, analytical and reflective, within prescriptive limits; and US application essays, where students must transmit their personal story and values in a less formal, character-driven style. This subjective element of many HE applications can be a tough nut to crack, since so much hinges on these short, succinct yet hugely important essays.
In this session the focus was on understanding how medical schools in the UK use academic qualifications, aptitude tests, the personal statement and interviews in the application process. Prior discussions of studying medicine in various international systems formed a backdrop to this practical session. Each student was encouraged to research the most suitable universities for their specific situation. Our potential medicals were (as always) engaged, enthusiastic and eager to learn.
In the Arts, Design and Architecture HE session we invited alumni students back to share their experiences of applying to universities. It was wonderful to have Daniela and Carolina de Pontes, Class of 2017, with us. Carolina and Daniela are currently studying with scholarships at Pratt Institute in New York, both pursuing Art and Design courses. They were able to share their portfolios for application with our students, as well as showing us their current work. During our session we talked about the practicalities of applying to creative courses and the range of courses available. We were very grateful for the time that Daniela and Carolina gave back to their old school.
Engineering assessment centre
Two staff from Physics collaborated on a practical and useful assessment-centre style activity for aspiring engineers, challenging them to step out of their comfort zone, and giving them a clear idea of what to expect in an academic interview or early job application scenario. Having done prior reading to set the scene, students arrived to take a Personality questionnaire and reasoning test, and were set a Group Task, solving a problem as a group. They then watched each other answer some interview questions, and responded in the hot seat to technical questions they may be asked. Their mentors gave feedback on making a good first impression, body language, technical questions answers, and what are employers looking for. Each student came away with a distinct assessment of their strengths, and areas in need of improvement.
The presentation for potential Oxbridge applicants was fruit of a happy coincidence, bringing together two English Department staff who are Cambridge alumni with a third visiting expert, Raman Singh, a graduate of Cambridge undergraduate Economics, current PhD candidate, and a member of the Trinity Hall undergraduate interview panel this year. From their diverse perspectives, they were able to demystify the seemingly arcane Oxbridge entry process, making it accessible to this group of highly academic and ambitious students.
Life at university outside lectures
Delivered by two PE staff, one of them a former pupil, this entertaining and stimulating session highlighted the aspects of transition to university life students often don’t consider: how to survive and thrive in a new world of autonomy and infinite choice. Defining yourself as an independent young adult: likes and dislikes, capabilities, managing friendships and relationships. Keeping a growth mindset as you encounter new opinions and differing world views. Handling stress, loneliness, homesickness, and cultural differences, and safeguarding physical and mental health. And most importantly, enjoying it all, as the experience will help you become you!
Christine Sousa e Sá - Head of Careers