Who is this pack aimed at?
How is the pack organised?
This Aimhigher Greater Manchester Resource Pack is aimed at tutors who assist vocational learners with progression to higher education (HE). It is particularly suited to tutors with limited previous experience in supporting learners apply to HE but may also be of value to tutors who wish to update their existing knowledge and practice.
There are three sections in the pack, each tackling one of the topics. The topics cover the following areas
Why has the pack been developed?
Vocational learners continue to be underrepresented within HE, and Aimhigher Greater Manchester are committed to ensuring these learners receive the best possible support to progress. Tutors play a key role in ensuring that learners access accurate and up to date advice about HE progression opportunities and this pack is designed to help tutors to develop their own knowledge and to support them delivering effective tutorial sessions. What does the pack cover?
Choosing an HE Course and Institution • Encouraging progression to HE • Higher education qualifications and routes into HE • Researching and choosing an HE course and institution • Living at or away from home and student accommodation • University and college open days • HE interviews and entrance exams
Personal statements • Guide to writing personal statements • Using UCAS Entry Profiles • Sample personal statements
It is impossible to provide a pack that covers all aspects of applying to HE and there are already many great resources available. Feedback from previous Aimhigher materials and from tutor focus groups identified key areas where additional support is in demand and as a result the pack covers the following topics
• Evaluating and writing personal statements
• Choosing an HE course and Institution
• Evaluating academic references
• Personal Statements • Writing academic references.
HOW TO USE THIS PACK
How to use this pack
Writing academic references • Writing complete and subject references • Sample academic references
Each section starts with an introduction and concludes with a summary. Within each section there are three types of resources: Tutor’s notes These are reading materials for tutors, giving concise background information to each topic. Student Handouts These materials are aimed at students, some contain information for reading and others are worksheets that can be copied for use during group sessions. Lesson plan These are simple lesson plans for use with students, many making use of the accompanying student handouts. There is also an additional section at the end of the resource pack which will direct you to a wider range of materials and resources to support both the topics covered in this pack and other topics which we do not address, such as Student Finance.
SECTION A: Choosing a HE Course & Institution
Choosing a HE Course & Institution Introduction
The first challenge with many vocational students is to help them believe they can progress to HE but there are lots of organisations and activities that can raise your students aspirations, some of which are described in this section.
You will find the following resources available in this section:
Getting the Ball Rolling
Once a student has shown an interest in HE supporting them in choosing which courses and institutions to apply to is a complex business. There are around 270 higher education institutions (HEIs) in the UK offering over 50,000 courses in a wide range of subject areas. Although most vocational students have already made a commitment to a broad area of study, narrowing down their options and making a final choice requires thorough research. You may also find that some students wish to apply for HE courses unrelated to their current area of study, this is often when tutors need additional information and help from college guidance staff.
Progression Route Map
Choosing an HE Course
Choosing an HE Institution
Using the UCAS Website
Higher Education Interviews
This section introduces you and your students to the different types of courses available in higher education and the main resources for researching and choosing an HE course and an institution. We will also look at other issues that need considering in the research phase such as secondary stages of the application process (interviews, auditions and entrance exams), employability, living at or away and student accommodation.
Student handouts Checklist for Choosing an HE Course
Researching using the UCAS website
UCAS Website Research Sheet
Checklist for HE Open Days
A Studentâ€™s Guide to Higher Education Interviews
Home or Away?
Lesson plans Researching HE Courses and Institutions
Living at Home or Away?
Preparing for Higher Education Interviews
TUTOR’S NOTES / RESOURCE REFERENCE: A1
Getting the ball rolling It’s never too early to start your students thinking about their options and the possibilities that higher education can offer. There are many ways that you can get them thinking about opportunities available and a number of activities available to help them finalise their course choice.
The following offer a range of activities to encourage progression to HE:
Higher Education Institutions (HEIs)
HEIs offer a wide range of activities for students who are in the process of researching or applying to higher education. Some of these can be delivered in your college, some will take place at the institution. Below are examples of activities for students: • HE Talks and Workshops – covering a range of subjects and issues relating to higher education such as student finance, preparing for HE, student life, choosing the right course and talks on the institution • Subject Talks – talks on specific courses covering course content, course assessment, entry requirements, graduate destinations etc. • Masterclasses – subject sessions with a particular focus on an aspect of the curriculum, usually delivered by academics to stretch students beyond their current level of study. • Visits – open days providing an opportunity to find out about courses in greater detail and look around the subject facilities; subject taster days incorporating talks/activities with subject areas; and campus tours incorporating a look around the main facilities and student accommodation. • Summer Schools – often held over several days or a week and give the students a chance to find out more about specific subjects by taking part in lectures and activities. Most offer the opportunity to stay in accommodation and sample leisure and social activities. You can contact the schools and colleges liaison team or subject department at HEIs to find out what activities they can offer. Many HEIs also have Widening Participation teams or officers who arrange activities for under-represented target groups. HEI websites will contain relevant contact information and all HEIs are listed on the ‘uni finder’ at www.hero.ac.uk
Getting the ball rolling Continued...
Aimhigher National Campaign
Aimhigher Greater Manchester
Aimhigher is a national campaign that works with under-represented groups to widen participation in higher education through raising aspirations and helping learners progress. The national campaign provides a range of resources you may be able to integrate into your work with learners.
To complement the national campaign, the Aimhigher Greater Manchester partnership organises a programme of local activities. These activities are targeted at those with the potential to progress to HE but who face barriers in achieving this potential. Key target groups are those from low socio-economic backgrounds, those with a disability and looked after children or those leaving care. Many of these activities are delivered by HEIs but some are led by other partners such as schools, colleges and work based learning providers.
The Aimhigher Roadshow There is a national roadshow aimed at Year 12 students in institutions or areas with traditionally low levels of participation in higher education. The roadshow trailer will visit your college and will accommodate a maximum of 15 students per session. The sessions are facilitated by recent graduates, who use their own experience, as well as film and computerised material, to inspire and encourage students. There is also a short impartial session on student finance and budgeting. Some of your students may have taken part in the Year 9 roadshow but would benefit from the Year 12 session which is more detailed and targeted. To find out more about the Aimhigher Roadshow, go to www.aimhigher.ac.uk/practitioner/ programme_information/roadshow.cfm Or contact your college Aimhigher Co-ordinator or Aimhigher Borough Co-ordinator, details of which are listed on www.aimhighergreatermanchester.com The National Aimhigher Learner Website www.direct.gov.uk/en/ educationandlearning/ universityandhighereducation/index.htm is a â€˜gatewayâ€™ or portal where students and tutors can find all the information that they need about higher education. It has information on careers, courses, universities and colleges, applying for courses, student finance and student life. You can also download or find out information on ordering a range of materials for tutors and students. The National Aimhigher Practitioner Website www.aimhigher.ac.uk/practitioner A national website to assist practitioners in their day to day work. In addition to information about the Aimhigher programme there are a range of downloadable resources for learners and parents plus information on other materials that can be ordered free of charge.
A flavour of what Greater Manchester Aimhigher offers can be found on the Greater Manchester Aimhigher website www.aimhighergreatermanchester.com or you can find out more by contacting Aimhigher Greater Manchester co-ordination unit directly on 0161 955 6957. In addition to a central Greater Manchester Aimhigher co-ordination unit each borough has a local Aimhigher Borough Co-ordinator who are responsible for organising a programme of activities with schools and colleges in their areas. Their details can be found on the website above. Alternatively many FE colleges have an internal Aimhigher Co-ordinator who may be able to tell you the activities you and your students can get involved in. Aimhigher Greater Manchester also has a local website specifically for learners wanting practical information on HE, this can be found at www.uni4me.com
Regional fairs are organised annually by UCAS which provide local students with the opportunity to speak to a number of HEI representatives at one time and collect prospectuses and other relevant information. Dates for forthcoming UCAS conventions can be found at www.ucas.com/advisers/exhibitions
Personal Advisers are available to help 13 â€“ 19 year olds with career progression including going into higher education. They can assist with helping with course choice, provide information on open days/ visit opportunities, and assist with UCAS applications and personal statements. Personal Advisers are usually co-located with your college guidance team. Further information about Connexions services in Greater Manchester can be found at www.gmconnexions.com
College Guidance Team Your college guidance team will be able to give you further information on activities and events to get your students thinking about higher education. They can advise on a range of aspects relating to HE and will have contacts with a number of HEIs so can arrange visits for your students to and from an HEI. They may also have an annual programme of events and activities for students and tutors to support progression to HE.
TUTORâ€™S NOTES / RESOURCE REFERENCE: A1
Greater Manchester Strategic Alliance (GMSA)
GMSA, who run the Greater Manchester Lifelong Learning Network, promote the progression of vocational learners into work related higher education. Although they work directly with providers more than learners they do have a number of projects and tools that could support your work, including a web based progression tool for vocational students. Each FE college in Greater Manchester has a GMSA champion who can tell you more about the work of GMSA or you can go to their website www.gmsa.ac.uk or call 0161 921 8040.
Higher Education qualifications There are now many more students, both young and mature, from a variety of diverse backgrounds and cultures taking a wide range of higher education qualifications. The notion that progression to HE only means a taking a full time honours degree is one that needs to be challenged, learners have many more options open to them. In these notes we help you to update your own knowledge so that you can support your learners with accurate information.
Honours Degree • Subjects can be traditional such as English, Geography and Chemistry or vocational such as Engineering, Tourism or Sports Science.
• A honours degree but with compulsory periods of time spent gaining practical work experience in business or industry.
• Offered in a range of vocational subjects such as Health or Construction.
• Usually 4 or 5 years of full time study. • Work experience may take the form of a full year out, after one or two years of study, or may be several shorter spells of work experience. However, a degree is not the only HE qualification that your students could achieve. They could also study a: • Foundation Degree • HND/C Higher National Diploma/Certificate • DipHE Diploma in Higher Education
• Usually 3 or 4 years of full time study.
• NVQ Level 4
• Can also be studied part time, through flexible learning, or by distance learning. These routes can take between 6 to 8 years to complete.
• BTEC Professional Diploma/Certification/Award
• Can be studied as single honours (studying one subject) joint honours (studying two subjects) or combined honours (two or three subjects) • Can be built up module by module (modular degree programme) which is a flexible route. • Can be awarded at ordinary pass level or ‘with honours’. The honours award is divided into 4 classes; first (1) which is the highest level, upper second (2.1), lower second (2.2) or third (3). • Some, mainly within science and engineering, may have a 1 year masters qualification attached to the end of it enabling students to graduate with a higher qualification. 6
• Professional Qualification • Foundation Year Many of these are more hands on, practical qualifications that are recognised qualifications in their own right but that can be used as a step towards a full honours degree. Many of these qualifications are more flexible and not all of them have to be studied at university - some can be studied at FE colleges, by distance learning or in the work place. In Greater Manchester we have universities and FE colleges offering a wide range of courses and study methods, so students who would prefer to stay near to home have a good variety of HE provision to choose from.
• Offer a mixture of work related skills and academic study and are mostly aimed at people in employment, or people with relevant experience/vocational qualifications. • Take two years full time to complete, but are often studied part time, by flexible, or sometimes distance learning. • Can be studied at FE colleges, as well as universities. • Can be made up to an honours degree with further study via a top-up degree. This is a relatively new qualification and crucially it is where HE provision is expanding. The number of foundation degrees offered is increasing, as is the variety of subjects offered. For more information visit the foundation degree website www.foundationdegree.org.uk and www.ucas.com
Higher National Diploma (HND) and Higher National Certificate (HNC) • An HND takes 2 years full time. An HNC is part time and contains fewer units than the diploma. • Covers vocational subjects business management or engineering.
such as electrical
• Prepare people to work at technical, supervisory or management level. • Offered at FE colleges and universities. • Can be made up to an honours degree with further study via a top-up degree. For more information look at the Edexcel web site www.edexcel.org.uk and www.ucas.com
TUTOR’S NOTES / RESOURCE REFERENCE: A2 B1
Diploma in Higher Education
Further study – Top-up Degrees
• Takes 2 years of full time study and is equivalent to 2 years of degree study.
• Some professions have their own qualifications e.g. Chartered Institute of Marketing, Chartered Institute of Surveyors or Institute of Personnel Development.
• As previously mentioned, if students achieve the right grades in many of these qualifications they can progress onto a ‘top-up degree’.
• Studied at FE colleges or universities.
• Usually 12 - 18 months of full time study.
• Contact the relevant professional institute for further information.
• Students enter into the second or final year of a degree course.
• Studied in subjects like nursing and youth and community work. • Offered at universities and sometimes FE colleges. • Can be made up to a degree with further study (via a top-up degree).
NVQ Level 4
(National Vocational Qualification) • Is an occupation-based qualification, which proves that the person can do a particular job to national standards. • Studied within the workplace, FE colleges or sometimes universities or via private provider. • Has practical and theoretical elements. • Comprises a portfolio of evidence. • Available in a wide variety of occupations. • Can progress onto a degree (although students usually need another qualification i.e. BTEC) Further information can be obtained from the DfES web site www.dfes.gov.uk/nvq
Contact details for professional bodies can be obtained from the book ‘Occupations’ which can be found in your college guidance centre, careers library or Connexions centres and public libraries. This information can also be obtained by phoning Learndirect’s free helpline on 0800 100 900.
Foundation Year • One year duration. • Are for people who haven’t got the entry requirements or subject background for the degree that they want to study. • Are usually attached to a degree course that the student automatically progresses on to after successful completion of the foundation year. • Students are registered students of the university where they will study for their degree.
• Usually studied at a university. The variety of HE qualifications covered show that vocational study doesn’t have to stop at Level 3. Decisions as to which HE path to take will be determined by the individual student in terms of their academic ability, learning style and career ambitions. Whatever route your students take, they will be able to achieve an honours degree, even though it may mean studying at more than one institution or over a longer period of time. HE study is increasingly more flexible and students can ‘step on and step off’ studying towards a degree qualification by studying a combination of the above qualifications at their own pace. The progression route map in the following resource illustrates the range of qualifications on offer and shows the routes from Level 3 study to HE. All HE qualifications are highlighted in bold.
• Students will study for 4 years to get their degree (1 year foundation, 3 years degree study). • Can be studied at a university or an FE college. Students should contact the admissions team at the individual institution for further information.
Tutor’s notes / Resource Reference: A3
Progression Route Map Honours Degree
Level 6 Qualification
Honours Degrees (top up)
NVQ LEVELS 4/5/6
(Higher National Diploma)
Level 5 Qualification Foundation Year
(Diploma of Higher Education)
(Higher National Diploma)
Level 4 Qualification
BTEC National Diploma/Certificate/Award
Level 3 Qualification
AVCE (Vocational A-Level)
NVQ Level 3
Access Course Advanced Diploma
BTEC First Diploma/Certificate GCSE A*-C (Maths and English important) Level 2 Qualification
Vocational GCSE A*-C GNVQ Intermediate
NVQ Level 2
TUTOR’S NOTES / RESOURCE REFERENCE: A4
Choosing an HE Course On the whole it is better that your students choose a course first, rather than choosing an institution as not all HEIs provide all courses and getting the right course is the priority. There are over 50,000 courses available through UCAS therefore the choice can be overwhelming and some students may find it difficult to pick five choices. It’s important to stress to your students that although the range of courses available is wide there are numerous opportunities to study subjects and specialisms not available at college. For example, students interested in sport will be able to study courses such as; • Football Studies • Motorsport • Sport and Adventure Recreation • Surf Science and Technology • Applied Golf Management Studies • Sports Development and Martial Arts Theory and Practice • International Football • Business Management • Youth Sport • Work Studies Students should also be aware of which subjects they will need to have studied at college. Many courses will accept students who achieve a specified academic standard regardless of subject background. However some courses will require a specific knowledge base in specified subjects i.e. engineering courses may require maths or a numerate science. If your students don’t have the necessary qualifications then encourage them to look for an alternative route into their subject either by applying for a foundation year course or an HND. Students should use the UCAS website (www.ucas.com) to research courses available, this will help them broaden or refine their thinking about which courses are on offer to them. There is also a local web based tool called ‘Pathways’ which has been developed by GMSA. The tool has been designed specifically for vocational learners to identify local progression routes and it is worth you and your students becoming familiar with what it can offer. To use the tool go to www.pathways.gmsa.ac.uk Once your students have researched the courses available, it is important that they look at the course content as they will find that courses with the same title at different institutions can have very different content and assessment measures.
When your students are researching courses they should consider the following issues:
The type of course and qualification
e.g. Degree, HND, Foundation Degree etc. It is important students check what qualification they will be working towards and whether this is appropriate. If your students are interested in more than one subject they should check to see if there are combined courses available. This will be dependent on the institution and these can be in the form of joint honours courses (where the subjects are studied 50:50) or major/minor honours courses where one subject is studied more than the other (usually studied 75:25). They may also be able to freely combine subjects. Information can be found in HEI prospectuses and on their websites.
Is the course appropriate for their long term career plans? This is particularly important when students are hoping to gain entry into a particular profession. Students should be encouraged to check the standing of a course with the relevant professional body or likely employer, for example only some Psychology degrees are accredited by the British Psychological Society and certain Forensics courses are better received by the Forensics Service than others. Accredited programmes can also be beneficial as they may offer certain exemptions from further study/exams that are taken after a student completes their higher education course. Further information on accredited courses can be found on the individual professional body’s website or direct from the admissions team at the institution.
The method and length of study Is the course full or part time? How many hours does this mean? Some courses will be ‘heavier’ and will have more timetabled teaching sometimes over 20 hours per week. Others are ‘light’ courses and can have as little as 6 hours teaching a week with students expected to undertake more independent learning. Some health courses run longer than the traditional academic year with teaching and/or placements taking place over the summer period. Contact the course tutor or admissions team at the institution for further details.
Does the course content interest them? Have they truly looked at the content of the course and not just relied on their perceptions of what it will involve. Students will be able to find out what the core and optional modules are for each course so to see what is covered. This will help them see what the focus of the individual course is and see whether they can tailor the course to suit their individual interests. It is important for them to compare course content between institutions so they can see which excites them the most! Information can be found in the institution prospectus or website and in the UCAS Entry Profile on the UCAS website.
TUTOR’S NOTES / RESOURCE REFERENCE: A4
Entry requirements Some courses require a traditional A-level as well as a vocational qualification, and English and Maths GCSE grades A* to C. Have the students been predicted the right grades for the course requirements? Students shouldn’t be deterred by courses with lower entry requirements as this is mainly an indication of the course popularity at that particular institution and not necessarily an indication of quality. Details of entry requirements can be found in the corresponding UCAS Entry Profile. Entry Profiles are covered in more detail in resource B2 in this pack.
Do they need relevant work experience before they apply? Not only do they need to check academic requirements but some vocational programmes require considerable work experience. This is particularly the case where the course leads to a professionally recognised qualification. If they don’t yet have the relevant experience how can they remedy this before applying?
How is the course assessed? Do the assessment methods suit the student’s learning style? There is a great deal of variation in assessments used such as work assignments, presentations, coursework and exams, each with their own relative importance to the overall grading.
The quality of teaching - university league tables Some students may be interested in knowing which is the best course in their chosen field, but this is impossible to answer - different courses suit different students. However, there are university league tables published that compare HEIs on a number of fronts including the quality of their teaching. The Guardian and The Times newspapers publish annual university league tables. Your students may also be interested to look at the National Student Survey conducted by thorough feedback from final year students - further information can be found at www.thestudentsurvey.com
How much support is available to students? Some students may require additional support to realise their potential, this includes students with a specific learning disability, such as dyslexia, as well as disabled learners. This is something to consider when choosing a course as well as the institution. Support is also available for students to help develop the academic skills needed for study in higher education such as essay writing and exam techniques. Most HEIs operate a personal tutor system for first year students so students have a named member of staff to go to for academic and personal support. Contact the student services department at the individual institution.
What are the course related costs? There will be costs associated to the course and students need to be aware of these when researching their options. Some courses may involve field trips to a range of destinations both nationally and internationally. Students may be expected to purchase certain materials for art portfolios or fashion shows etc. Encourage your students to bear this in mind and check with institutions whether there is financial support available to meet these costs. Above all students need to make a realistic choice. It is no good choosing a degree course if they will struggle to get the grades or UCAS tariff points necessary. It may be better to start with an HND or foundation degree and then make it up to a degree if they wish. Alternatively, many students set their aspirations too low and they need encouragement to apply for courses that they perceive are out of their reach. If you are struggling with a student whose aspirations don’t appear to match their abilities and experience refer them to a careers advice professional or a member of the college guidance team who can give them an impartial view.
Tutor’s notes / Resource Reference: A5
Employability One concern that students have when entering higher education is whether jobs will be available after they graduate. Encourage your students to include this in their research when looking at courses and institutions. Students should be able to find out which companies and jobs students on a particular course have gone on to do either by looking in the prospectus or by contacting the department or careers service at the individual institution. They can also look at general career paths from subject areas by looking on the Prospects website which also contains information on the skills gained within subjects as well as case studies. For further information visit www.prospects.ac.uk and go to ‘options with your subject’ under the careers advice section.
Study Abroad Exchanges
There are many opportunities for students to undertake work placements whilst studying a higher education course. Some may be included in the course (compulsory industrial placement year or shorter work placements) others may have to be undertaken in the holidays. Students should think about the importance of work experience to their subject and intended career and investigate how they can do this whilst on their course. Most subject areas within an institution will have a dedicated tutor who will help arrange work placements and support the students whilst they are on their placement. The subject area may also have links with specific organisations, which is also a good indicator of how the course is viewed by business and industry. Information on work placement opportunities can usually be found in the university or college prospectus or by contacting the admissions tutor.
Opportunities exist for students to spend part of their degree studying in another country. The Erasmus programme is a European Commission incentive that encourages student mobility within the EU with students able to study abroad for 3 – 12 months. The programme is open to all students regardless of the subject they are studying. A positive aspect of the programme is that some overseas institutions teach in English so students don’t need to worry about the language barrier. Funding is available to assist students who undertake Erasmus exchanges. As well as offering the opportunity to go to a new country and experience a different culture, it also looks good on the CV especially in a global market. Further information can be found at www.britishcouncil.org/erasmus
Graduate Earnings On average, graduates earn a quarter more than those without HE qualifications, which averages at around £160,000 more over a lifetime. Higher education could prove to be a major boost to your student’s career prospects and earning potential, leading to a much wider choice of careers. Examples of graduate vs. non graduate earnings for specific subject areas are shown below. Subject Art & Design Business Studies Computer Science Drama, Dance & Cinematics Hospitality, Leisure, Recreation Sport and Tourism Music Nursing Source: Hesa 2004/05 DLHE return
Average initial graduate earnings £16,218 £19,374 £20,148 £16,082
Average earnings without a degree £12,726 £15,054 £15,580 £13,152
£16,837 £17,695 £20,383
£13,690 £13,254 £18,500
Checklist for choosing a HE course It is probably better for you to choose a course first, rather than an institution as not all institutions provide all courses. There are over 50,000 courses available through UCAS therefore the choice can be overwhelming and you may find it difficult to pick five choices. Although the range of courses available is wide there are numerous opportunities to study subjects and specialisms not available at college. It is worth noting that courses with the same title can vary between institutions. They may have very different content and assessment measures so you need to make careful comparisons.
You should consider: • What different courses are available within your subject area? • Which course is suitable for your career choice? You may need to check the course you are interested in with any relevant professional bodies • Look at the entry requirements – are you predicted the right grades? Will you have the right qualifications? Some courses require a traditional A-level with your vocational qualification plus English and Maths GCSE grades A* to C.
student Handout / Resource Reference: A6
If you are not sure what subject to choose, try the Stamford Test on the UCAS website www.ucas.com or go to www. ukcoursefinder.co.uk where you can match subjects, interests and skills to HE courses. If you are unsure or need to talk through your choices, make an appointment to see the Connexions Personal Adviser who works at your college or a member of the college guidance team.
• What type of course is it? E.g. degree, HND, foundation degree- do you know what this type of qualification entails? • Can you combine your main subject with another subject of interest? • Look at the actual course content – does it interest you? • How is the course assessed? E.g. exams, assignments. Do these methods suit you? • Do you need some relevant work experience before you apply for the course? • Do you need support with your studies? What help is available to you through the university or college’s student support or disability services? • What are the employability statistics for the course and what jobs have previous students gone on to?
Tutor’s notes / Resource Reference: A7
Choosing an HE Institution Once a student has made a decision about which course they wish to apply to, they need to look at which institutions would suit them best. If your students are applying to full time programmes via UCAS then they can apply to up to five courses. Normally students apply for the same or very similar courses at four or five institutions. Sometimes a student may have chosen a course that is offered by a small number of institutions or perhaps they may need to stay local therefore their options will be narrower. If this is the case the institution may in effect choose itself. Where a student has chosen a course that is offered by a wide range of institutions they have the luxury of weighing up the pros and cons of each HEI. Students may need to consider the following kinds of issues;
Location of HEI
Your students need to weigh up where they wish to study. Do they want to continue to live at home and therefore is the HEI near enough to travel to on a daily basis? Do they wish to relocate and if so how far away do they want to be? HEIs based in the North West, the Midlands and Yorkshire are all popular with students in Greater Manchester probably as they are far enough away from home to live independently but it is easy to travel back and forth. Students may also have a preference as to whether they are based at a rural as opposed to a city location. NB Students need to check which campus their intended course is delivered at as occasionally students find themselves on a campus 30 miles away from where they thought they were applying to.
Campus vs Non-campus
Some HEIs are based on a single large campus where all amenities are on site e.g. Lancaster University, whereas others are spread across a town or city e.g. Manchester Metropolitan University. Some students like the idea of campus life whereas others wish to immerse themselves in the local community.
Academic Facilities and Resources
Your students may be keen to attend an HEI with excellent access to IT facilities or where they will be able to use the highest quality science labs. It is only by encouraging students to visit a range of HEIs that they will get a feel for what is on offer and whether it meets their expectations.
Societies and Social Facilities
Some students may be interested in specific social activities and are looking for an HEI with a related society; others may be looking for excellent sports facilities or an HEI with a good reputation for a particular team sport. Whatever is important to a student socially needs to be considered when making a final choice of where to apply.
Students should be encouraged to think about the type of accommodation they would like to live in and whether this is available at the right price. Some HEIs guarantee all students a place in university owned accommodation whereas others rely more on privately owned houses and flats. Students need to consider if accommodation is guaranteed for first year students and in particular, what the terms of any contract are? For example what is included in the rent?
All HEIs should be equipped to cater for students who need extra support such those with learning support needs or a physical disability. If you think any of your students are likely to need extra help it is important for them to visit the HEI and talk to staff both within their chosen department and in central services e.g. disability support officer. Some HEIs also offer mentoring to students in their first year, either by more experienced students or from staff, and this may provide a valuable resource for students with additional needs. The majority of HEIs will provide ‘study skills’ to students to assist them develop the academic skills needed in higher education and will also operate a personal tutor system for first year students.
For those students who need child care it is imperative that they contact their chosen HEIs as soon as they can in order to check out the nursery facilities on offer, the cost to students and most importantly the likelihood of securing a place for their child. Students who wish to use facilities provided by the HEI, need to look at the location of the nursery in relation to where they will be based.
Further Education Colleges
Many FE colleges offer a range of HE courses that appeal to those students who wish to study locally or on a part time basis. Some students however may not wish to consider an FE setting and therefore checking the type of establishment they are applying to is important. You also find that some students apply for a foundation degree or foundation year at a university without realising it is actually delivered at an FE college.
As well as the central government funding and the central funding packages available from each institution, there also may be other areas of funding specifically related to a student’s course or the department that they will be studying in. These will usually be in the form of bursaries or scholarships. This subject related funding isn’t always advertised so it’s worth your students asking the question! Students can speak to an admissions tutor or contact student services for further information.
Student handout / Resource Reference: A8
Checklist for HE Open Days Open days are an excellent opportunity for you to visit the institution you are applying to, so to find out more about the courses you have in mind, meet teaching staff and to talk to current students.
You also get a chance to look around the subject facilities, student accommodation and the local area. Information on open days can be obtained from university and college websites and from www.opendays.com
• What do current students think of the course?
NB: Not all HEIs list full open day details on this site so it’s important that you check each institution’s website for further details. To get the most out of the visit make sure you have a list of questions prepared beforehand. The following are some points for you to consider.
• How many students are on the course? • What are the student support and welfare services like? • Do you need to contact them before you start the course if you have study support needs or a disability?
• Are there opportunities to undertake work experience/study abroad? • What do students do at the end of the course? • Where will you be studying? What are the facilities and equipment like? • Are applicants interviewed? • Are there part time/ distance learning opportunities? • Is the course modular? What do the modules cover? Is there a choice of modules? • What grades/UCAS tariff points are required? • Are your qualifications & experience acceptable? • What jobs/careers have past students gone on to do? What links are there with industry? • Is the course accredited/recognised by professional bodies?
General Impression of the Institution: • Do you like the place itself? • What is the student accommodation like? How much does it cost? Is it guaranteed for first year students? Is the accommodation far from the institution? • What is the transport system like? How much will it cost to travel? • What is the student population like? What is the mix of mature students, younger students and international students? • What are the bars, canteen and other social facilities like? • If appropriate look at the child care facilities. What time does the day start/end, can you fit child care around this?
Activities: • What societies and clubs are there? Is your particular interest catered for? • Are there good sport facilities? • What is the students union like? • Is there a mature students association? • What other non academic activities can you get involved in?
Tutorâ€™s notes / Resource Reference: A9
Using the UCAS Website The UCAS website will be one of the first points of contact for your students when researching their higher education options. The UCAS website is kept very much up to date. It lists all the full time undergraduate courses and it has search facilities to find courses. On the UCAS website you will be able to view Entry Profiles for most of the courses listed - Entry Profiles are covered in more detail in resource B2. The website also provides basic course and institution information for applicants as well as detailed advice on applications procedures, timetables and tariff points. The website does not provide information about each institution but there are links to each HEI website where this can be found. Students will apply for courses at higher education institutions through the online application system found in the Apply section. They will need to register to do this which will generate a username and password for them to use each time they log in. Students can also check the progress of their application through Track. Your college guidance team will be able to provide further details. On the UCAS website there are also sections for parents and advisers. You should familiarise yourself with the website, and the information contained on it, so to help guide and inform your students. Tutors need to be aware that information on part-time courses is not readily available on UCAS and that applications for these courses are handled by HEIs rather than the UCAS application system. For details of part-time courses go to individual HEI websites, information on how to apply for these will also be available in their prospectus.
Researching HE Courses and Institutions Target: Students wanting to search for HE courses and institutions. Aim: To familiarise students with the UCAS website so that they can carry out independent research. Learning outcome: At the end of the session students will: • Understand how the UCAS website operates. • Know the information that it contains. • Be able to carry out their research in their own time.
Answers to questions contained in the ‘How to use the UCAS website’ handout: Question 1 What type of HE course is Business Studies (002N) at the University of Bolton? Two year full time Higher National Diploma Question 2 Does it have a full entry profile? No Question 3 What are the codes for this course?
• Internet access, one PC per student.
The institution code name: BOLTN Institution code: B44 Course code: 002N Short form of course: HND/bus
• Student handout (A11): ‘Researching HE Courses and Institutions using the UCAS Website’ (one each).
Question 4 Where else is this course taught?
• Student handout (A12): ‘UCAS Website Research Sheet’ (one each). • Student handout (B5): ‘A Student Guide to Using UCAS Entry Profiles’ one each).
Bury College Question 5 Write down the ‘points accepted’
Time: One hour approx
To Prepare: Get to know, or refresh your memory, of the UCAS website.
Question 6 Write down the web address for The University of Bolton
A. Introduce the session
Question 7 Are you likely to be interviewed if you apply for this course?
Explain the purpose of the session and explain the type of information they can find on the UCAS website.
B. Research using www.ucas.com
Question 8 When is the next open day at The University of Bolton?
Give each student a copy of the UCAS website handout (A11), this contains instructions for using the site and some questions for them to answer as the navigate through a standard enquiry. The handout will also draw their attention to special features of the site which they will be able to try out. As students complete the tasks laid out ask them for their feedback on the site and what they are likely to use again. The answers to the questions on the student handout are contained in the answer sheet attached.
Lesson plan / Resource Reference: A10
This will change – tutors or students will need to check! Question 9 What is the total number of HND students at The University of Bolton? 586 Question 10 What bursaries and scholarships are available from the University of Bolton? Bolton Bursary - £320 p.a. for those students with the full HEMG Bolton Scholarship - £730 p.a.
C. Independent Research Allow enough time for students to use the site to research their own ideas. Ask them to look for specific courses and institutions that interest them. Give out the UCAS website research sheet (A12) to record their thoughts.
Researching HE Courses and Institutions using the UCAS Website You will be using the UCAS website when you start to look at HE courses and when you fill in your application form.
Instructions for using the site
This handout will:
3. You will then be given the option to look at courses starting in different years, click on search for courses starting in 2009
• Help you find your way around the site • Ask you to find out and write down the kind of information that you need for your HE application • Get you started looking at courses and institutions that interest you
About the UCAS website The UCAS site is kept very much up to date. It lists all the full time undergraduate courses and it has search facilities to find courses. It also details entry requirements and for some courses it contains Entry Profiles. These entry profiles have more detail of the course, information on what it would be like to study that specific subject and the skills and qualities needed for the course. The site also provides basic course and institution information, detailed advice on application procedures, application timetables and deadlines, and UCAS tariff points. The site does not have detailed information about each institution but there are links to each HEI website where this can be found. You will apply for full time HE courses via the Apply section of the website and will be able to track the progress of your application throughout the application cycle.
1. Go to the UCAS website www.ucas.com 2. At the first screen you come to click on ‘course search’
4. You will then be offered 3 ways of searching for courses, we are going to use ‘search by subject’ so click on this option. 5. The subject search option you have chosen will bring up an alphabetical list, click on ‘b’ 6. You will get a long list of subjects you can study that begin with ‘b’, scroll down until you come to Business and then click. This will give you an option of looking at: • all Business courses (by choosing this option you will be faced with hundreds of courses where business is a part of the programme) • or Business on its own as a single subject (this will narrow things down to programmes that are classified as Business) • or a specific subject area e.g. Business Analysis or Business Economics (which is useful for those that have a specific degree course in mind) 7. For now click on ‘business on its own as a single subject’. 8. You will find this page lists relevant courses as each institution. Scroll down until you come to The University of Bolton.
From this page can you work out the following information? Q1 What type of course is Business Studies (002N) at The University of Bolton?
Q2 Does it have a complete entry profile?
As you work through this handout you will be asked to record some information. Once you have got used to the site you will be able to complete your own research.
9. Click on the course ‘Business Studies (002N)’ under The University of Bolton.
Q3 This is an important screen to note as it has the code information that will be required when you complete your application to HE. Write down the: Institution code name: Institution code: Course code: Short form of course:
Q4 Where else is this course taught?
Q5 Write down the points accepted for this course.
You will find this under ‘Volume and depth of study/Tariff points and Grades’
To get back to the previous screen click on the back arrow of the top left hand corner of the screen. 11. Now click on ‘about this institution’ Q6 Write down the web address for The University of Bolton.
15. Go back to the UCAS homepage. There are two other search facilities that can be accessed from the Course Search button on the UCAS home page. These are ‘search’ and ‘search by course code’. Click on the Course Search button. ‘Course code search’ will bring up details of a course but only if you already know the code. ‘Search’ is a quick search allowing you to put in a subject name, institution, qualification type and region. Only one region can be searched at a time. If ‘all institutions’ is selected then the search brings up all institutions in a chosen region whether they do the course selected or not – so it does have its limitations.
Q7 Are you likely to be interviewed if you apply for this course?
‘Search by subject’ which we have just tried seems to be the best to use.
Q8 When is the next open day?
16. In the left hand navigation click on ‘Stamford Test’. To try the Stamford Test you will need to register, perhaps make a note of where to find it and come back to this when you have more time.
Q9 How many students are studying for HND courses at The University of Bolton?
12. To get back to the previous screen click on the back arrow of the top left hand corner of the screen. 13. Now click on ‘Fees, Bursaries and financial support’ and then click on ‘Bursary and scholarship outline’
Q10 What bursaries and scholarships are available from the University of Bolton?
You can click on ‘Bursary details’ for more details on their bursary and scholarship offering as well as the links for further information.
Student handout / Resource Reference: A11
10. To see the entry requirements for this course click on Entry Requirements then click on English, Welsh and Northern Irish Qualifications.
The Stamford Test asks a series of questions and from the answers given it can be used to determine the subject areas that might interest you. 18. Go back to the home page and click on Apply. This section contains detailed advice on all aspects of the application process for students, how to register for Apply (the online application system), information on the value of higher education, and the cost of applying. There are also links at the top of each page for parents. Explore the Apply section as it will be a useful resource when you go through the application process. You have come to the end of the tutorial; your tutor will be able to tell you if your answers are correct.
student Handout / Resource Reference: A12
UCAS Website Research Sheet Name:
Courses that interest me:
NB make a note of course code for future reference
What interests me about these courses?
HE institutions that look good for me:
NB Make a note of their web address for further research
Why do these institutions appeal to me?
Tutor’s notes / Resource Reference: A13
Student Accommodation The decision whether to stay at home or to live away will affect the number of HEIs that your students can consider applying to. Due to the increased financial costs associated with studying in higher education, staying at home is becoming a more popular option. The decision to live at home and the financial concerns that can underpin this need to be acknowledged, although students may need to be encouraged to consider HEIs further away to keep their options open. Part of the decision making process for those considering moving away from home involves choosing student accommodation. Most students have a narrow view of what styles of accommodation are available and their associated costs. Halls of residence with 20 students living along one corridor is the traditional style of student accommodation however a wider range of accommodation is also available including:
Student flats Accommodating between 2–6 students who share communal facilities such as the kitchen and bathroom. Some may offer ensuite bedrooms and/or a common room. Student houses Accommodating larger numbers of students sometimes as many as 12 living across 3-4 floors, sharing communal areas. Some student accommodation styles may be catered, offering meals throughout the week, although most are self-catered. The cost of student accommodation will vary between institutions and vary throughout their individual provision. Most offer a range of styles and prices and will include water, electricity and heating within the price. They will also be furnished with a bed, wardrobe and study desk. Prices are primarily influenced by location (accommodation in the south of England tends to be more expensive than in the north), followed by any ‘extras’ such as en-suite, catering or specialist facilities e.g. on-site gym. Rent is usually paid each term and coincides with student loan payments. As well as accommodation provided and run exclusively by the HEI, there is a range of private student accommodation available through specialist agencies run independently or in conjunction with the institution. Students can also rent accommodation from private landlords, paying their rent monthly with bills in addition. It’s important to get your students to think about living in student accommodation and to look at the benefits and negatives of living both away and at home. For example, living in student accommodation means they’ll be surrounded by many other students so will help them make friends and develop their independence, although they may live with people they don’t get along with. Living at home will mean that they won’t have to meet the costs of paying for accommodation and they will be closer to family and friends from college, but they may miss out on the social side to living away from home and the opportunity to integrate with a diverse group of people. Students may also have other concerns – how far is the accommodation from their place of study? How will they commute to their place of study? What is the security like? Is there insurance available for their possessions? Is the accommodation single-sex? Is student accommodation guaranteed for first year students? They can find the answers to these questions on the accommodation section of the HEIs website or by contacting the accommodation office direct.
Living at Home or Away? Target: Students thinking about their arrangements whilst studying in HE.
D. Researching Student Accommodation Options
Answers to questions contained in the ‘Home or Away?’ handout:
www.accommodation.salford.ac.uk Aim: To start students thinking about living home or away and looking at examples of different styles of accommodation available at an individual institution. Learning outcome: At the end of the session students will: • Have thought about the pros and cons of living at home and away from home. • Have a greater awareness of different styles of accommodation available. • Consider factors associated with living in student accommodation such as independence and money management. Resources: • Flip chart and pen (one per group). • Internet access, one PC per student. • Student handout (A15): Home or Away? (one each). Time: One hour approx.
Activities: A. Introduce the Session Explain the purpose of the session and explain that students may have the option of living at home or moving into student accommodation whilst at HE. Explain that those who live in student accommodation can choose from a range of accommodation styles which will be dependent on the individual institution. B. Group Discussion
Give each student a copy of the ‘Home or Away’ handout (A15). This contains instructions for using the website and some questions for them to answer as they navigate their way around. As students complete the tasks laid out ask them for their feedback on the site and what their perceptions of student accommodation are. The answers to the questions on the student handout are contained in the answer sheet opposite. E. Independent Research Allow enough time for students to use the site to research all the accommodation options available. Ask them to look at the virtual tours to see a visual representation of the each option. Virtual tours can be found at www. salford.ac.uk/study/student-experience/ F. Further Discussion In groups, ask students to consider what it would be like to live in a 12 bedroom student house. What should they consider in terms of? • Sharing communal areas i.e. kitchen, bathroom • Maintaining communal areas • Noise and other distractions Ask them to draw up a list of ‘house rules’ to accommodate all the points raised by everyone in the group.
Question 1 How many accommodation sites are available at the University of Salford? Seven; Castle Irwell student village, Horlock Court, Constantine Court, Bramhall Court, Matthias Court, Eddie Coleman/John Lester Courts, Seaford Road Question 2 Is accommodation available for first year students? Yes Question 3 What is included in the general cost of accommodation? (Other benefits will depend on the individual site) Free gym membership Unlimited high speed broadband access £3,000 personal insurance cover Free bus service to campus Question 4 How many study bedrooms are available at the University of Salford? 2698 Question 5 Which accommodation site is reserved for postgraduate students only? Matthias Court
Students should start by discussing in groups what they think student accommodation is like and their concerns around living in student accommodation. Ask students to discuss the pros and cons for both living at home and living away from home. Students should consider the affects that living on home may have on their higher education experience. Get them to feedback to the rest of the class.
Question 6 The Pavillion bar, café and nightclub are located at which site?
C. Real Life Experiences of Student Accommodation
Constantine Court and Seaford Road
Students will need to go to Manchester Metropolitan University’s main website, www.mmu.ac.uk, and select the Student Accommodation video on the right hand navigation.
Question 8 What is the price range of all the accommodation available at the University of Salford for 2008/09 (cheapest and most expensive)
Students should note any points of interest and discuss in their groups. Were any of their concerns or points raised?
£56 (Castle Irwell Student Village) - £90 (Seaford Road)
Castle Irwell Student Village Question 7 Which two sites offer en-suite accommodation?
Lesson plan / Resource Reference: A14
Question 9 What will you need to bring with you when you arrive at the start of term? • Bedding • Basic cooking utensils • Electrical items i.e. kettle Question 10 Are there any other questions you need to ask to help you make a decision about living in student accommodation? Issues may include: • The distance from campus • Security • Single sex accommodation • Students with families • Car parking/bicycle storage facilities • Equipment/household items they may want to bring with them
Where can you find out answers to these questions? Contact the Accommodation Office. You should also ask your students to note down any issues or queries they have regarding living in student accommodation and generate an open discussion on this topic.
Home or Away? Many students consider living at home whilst studying in higher education and this is an individual choice. You may find that if you choose to live at home that you will narrow the number of institutions that you can apply to. Students who live away from home are able to choose from a greater number of institutions but you still need to consider the style of student accommodation available at your chosen institutions. There are pros and cons for both options but make sure you look at both before deciding what is right for you. If you stay at home you will save money on accommodation and will be closer to your family and friends but are you prepared to miss out on the social life and freedom that comes with living away from home? What will you have to do to make sure you lead the social life you want? If you live in student accommodation how will you cope living with people you don’t know? How will you feed and look after yourself? How will you manage your money if you have to pay for student accommodation? These are all questions that you should ask yourself before making your decision.
Styles of Student Accommodation
Different types and styles of student accommodation are available and dependent on the institution you wish to study at. If you choose to live away from home, accommodation is the next biggest expense associated with entering higher education so it’s important you are aware of what is available and how this fits into your budget.
There are three main styles of student accommodation:
Living in student accommodation is a good way of developing your independence and also helps you learn to live with other people, most of which will be from different places and backgrounds. Living in student accommodation is also a good way make friends. Everyone is in the same boat so you will all learn together!
‘I lived with 11 people in my halls which were student houses. They came from all over the place, Essex, Blackpool, St. Helens, Stockport, Huddersfield, Reading, Lincoln and Coventry. I wasn’t sure what it would be like living with 11 people sharing a small kitchen and only 2 showers. I was also a little concerned about moving in with flat mates that I had little in common with. But it was fine and after the first three weeks we got used to adapting to each other’s ways of living.’ 2nd year English student
• Halls of residence – rooms on a corridor sharing a kitchen and bathroom, selfcontained flats or purpose built houses owned and run by the university or college. • Privately owned student accommodation – self-contained flats run by an external organisation sometimes in conjunction with the university or college. • Private lettings – houses and flats that you rent off a landlord. You will need to pay bills and rent per calendar month. As accommodation differs between institutions, you should ask the following questions. Does the institution guarantee accommodation for first year students? Can you stay in accommodation over the Christmas and Easter holidays? What is covered in the rent? Check with the accommodation office at the individual institution for further details. Looking at Student Accommodation In the following activity you will be looking at student accommodation available at an individual institution - the University of Salford. Recording Information As you work through this handout you will be asked to record some information. Once you have got used to the site you will be able to complete your own research.
1. Go to the The University of Salford website www.salford.ac.uk
Question 1 How many accommodation sites are available at the University of Salford?
2. On the home page, on the left hand navigation column click on ‘accommodation’
Question 2 Is accommodation available for first year students?
3. You will find this page lists details of the student accommodation provision at The University of Salford, with further information on each one listed in the links on the left hand navigation.
Question 3 What is included in the general cost of accommodation? (Other benefits will depend on the individual site)
Student handout / Resource Reference: A15
Instructions for using the Site
Question 4 How many study bedrooms are available at the University of Salford?
4. Using the navigation buttons on the left hand side, answer the following questions. Question 5 Which accommodation site is reserved for postgraduate students only? Question 6 The Pavillion bar, café and nightclub are located at which site? Question 7 Which two sites offer en-suite accommodation? Question 8 What is the price range for all the accommodation available at the University of Salford for 2008/09 (cheapest to the most expensive) Question 9 What will you need to bring with you when you arrive at the start of term? Question 10 Are there any other questions you need to ask to help you make a decision about living in student accommodation? Where can you find the answers to these questions? On the University of Salford accommodation website you will be able to take virtual tours around each accommodation site. Take some time to have a look at a couple to get a visual idea of what is on offer. The best way to really get a feel of the accommodation is to go and visit either on an open day or a Uni Tour. You may also want to note down any issues you have with living in student accommodation and share these with your class mates and tutor.
You have come to the end of the tutorial; your tutor will be able to tell you if your answers are correct.
Higher Education Interviews Your students may be asked to attend an interview or an open day before the higher education institution makes a decision about offering a place. It is important they attend interviews but open days are usually optional. When students receive an invitation to attend an institution it may not always be clear what is involved and therefore if a student is not sure whether the event is part of the selection process they need to double check. For most higher education courses your students will not be interviewed, but if they are applying for a vocational course such as nursing, health professions, teaching, social work related courses, art and design, performing arts or law they are likely to be called for interview. Mature students are also frequently interviewed.
Students will be able to find out whether courses they are applying to invite applicants for interview from the prospectus and UCAS Entry Profile.
The purpose of the interview is also for your students to decide whether they want to spend three or four years of their life studying at that particular institution.
The interview is for the institution to decide:
Interviews are often ‘informal’ – conducted in a relaxed way, however it is important students are clear on the format. Some institutions may interview one to one whereas others may have a panel or group interview. Some expect students to take examples of work with them and others may even ask students to complete extra assessments or tests as part of the interview. If the invitation is not clear about the process involved make sure your student checks in advance of the interview date.
• If the student is academically suited to the course • If they are sufficiently interested in the course to be motivated and successful • Whether they are likely to be a successful teacher, nurse etc. • If they have the skills essential for the course that can’t be determined from the application form e.g. strong performance skills, musical ability, creative skills etc.
The following information is provided to help you prepare students effectively. Encourage your students to: • Look at a copy of their application to remind themselves about what they put in the personal statement. Ensure they re-read the prospectus and the course details. • Plan how to get there and arrive in good time. • Dress appropriately – your students should be giving the impression that they realise the interview is a significant occasion.
• Reflect on their experiences and qualifications to date. They will give a very poor impression if they cannot remember exam results or employment history. • Write down why they want to study that particular subject, what they like about that particular course and what skills, attributes and experience they can offer. • List what they want to find out about the course and/or institution and write down the questions that they want to ask. • Revisit the entry profile on the UCAS website to remind them of the skills and qualities needed for the course.
Tutor’s notes / Resource Reference: A16
Preparation is the Key to a Successful Interview
The college guidance centre or careers library will have resources on interview skills and techniques. Your students may be able to fix up a mock interview with the guidance team, which will give them valuable practice and feedback. After they have attended an interview help your students to reflect on their experience, particularly what went well and what did not. They may also find it useful to jot down any questions they were asked to help them and other students prepare next time around. If a student has been unsuccessful at interview they can contact the institution for feedback. Whilst it may be uncomfortable doing so, it will benefit them for any future interviews.
Preparing for Higher Education Interviews
Aim: To prepare students for higher education interviews.
A. Introducing the Session
Target: Students in the second year of a two year Level 3 course who are applying to HE and are likely to be called for interview.
Explain that for most higher education courses you will not be interviewed, but for courses such as nursing, child care, health professionals, teaching, performing arts, music and social workers you are likely to be interviewed, as are mature students.
Learning Outcomes: By the end of the session students should: • Know why interview.
• Know how to prepare for an interview
Explain objectives for the session.
B. Group Discussion – purpose of interviews Ask the students what they think that they will get out of the interview e.g. a chance to ask questions, find out more about the course and the institution. Then ask what they think the institution gains, e.g. confirmation that a student that is likely to be a successful teacher, give the students as much information as possible to make the decision.
• Have practised answering some of the most frequently asked questions.
C. Preparing for Interviews
• Have thought of some questions to ask at interview.
Divide the students into pairs, give them a flip chart and pen. Ask them to write on a flip chart all the things that they can think of that they will need to do to prepare for an interview, e.g. know how to get to the venue and how long it takes, decide what to wear, find out about current news items in their chosen vocational sector, prepare questions to ask etc.
Resources: • Student handout (A18): ‘A Student’s Guide to Higher Education Interviews’
Take feedback and suggest other points that they may have overlooked.
• Flip chart and Pens
D. Interview Practice Exercise
Time: One hour approx.
Give out the handout ‘A Student’s Guide to Higher Education Interviews’ (A18) and draw the students’ attention to the example interview questions. Take each of the general questions in turn and get the students to suggest some answers. Then back in their pairs, ask the students to practise with their partner answering the questions, taking it in turns to be the interviewer and the interviewee. If your students are applying for the same course, you may want to prepare two or three questions specific to that course and ask them to practise these questions as well. E. Preparing to Ask Questions Talk with the group as a whole about the questions that they could ask at the end of the interview. Ask each student to write down two questions that they would want to ask at interview and share these amongst the group. F. Additional Help and Resources Outline where in your college students can get extra help with interview preparation e.g. appointment with guidance staff or Connexions PA, useful books in the library etc.
Lesson plan / Resource Reference: A17
A Student’s Guide to Higher Education Interviews You may be asked to attend an interview or an open day before the higher education institution makes a decision about whether to offer you a place. It is important to attend interviews but open days are usually optional. Make sure you are clear which you are being invited to!
For most higher education courses you will not be interviewed, but if you are applying for a vocational course such as nursing, other health professions, teaching, social work related courses, art and design, performing arts or law you are likely to be called for interview. Mature students are also frequently interviewed. The purpose of the interview is for you to decide whether you want to spend three or four years of your life studying that course at that institution. The interview is also for the institution to decide: • If you are academically suited to the course. • If you are sufficiently interested in the course to be motivated and successful. • Likely to be a successful teacher, nurse etc. • If you have the skills essential for the course that can’t be determined from the application form e.g. strong performance skills, musical ability, creative skills etc. Interviews are often ‘informal’ – conducted in a relaxed way, however it is important you are clear on the format. Some institutions may interview one to one whereas others may have a panel or group interview. Some expect you to take examples of work with you and others may even ask you to complete extra assessments or tests as part of the interview. If the invitation is not clear about the process involved make sure you check what is involved in advance. Even if the interview is more formal the interviewers will be mainly concerned that you: • Show yourself in the best possible light. • Find out as much as possible to enable you to make a decision.
Preparation is the Key to a Successful Interview • Look at a copy of your application to remind yourself about what you put in your personal statement. Re-read the prospectus and the course details. • Plan how to get there and arrive in good time. • Consider what to wear. It will help you to relax and give the best impression if you have obviously gone to some trouble, without being over dressed or uncomfortable. It is not necessary to dress in a manner that is unusual for you, but you should give the impression that you realise that an interview is a significant occasion. • Reflect on your experiences and qualifications to date. You will give a very poor impression if you can not remember exam results or employment history. • Write down why you want to study the particular subject and what you like about that particular course and what skills, attributes and experience you feel you have, which will contribute to your success. • Decide what you want to find out about the course or institution and write down the questions that you want to ask. • Look at the UCAS Entry Profile to remind you of the skills and qualities needed for the course. • Get a good nights sleep!
Your college guidance centre or careers library will have resources on interview skills and techniques. You may be able to fix up a mock interview with the guidance team, which will give you valuable practice and feedback.
After the Interview
• Be confident and think success. Have a confident smile on your face as you walk into the interview room. Shake hands with the interviewers. It is vital to make a good impression in those first few minutes.
• Take time to reflect on how the interview went. Think about what went well and what did not. If your friends have been for interviews you could swap notes to see what happens at other universities. Use these notes to plan for your next interview.
• Listen carefully to the questions that you are asked and the information that you are given. If you do not understand the question, say so and ask the interviewer to explain. • Take time to make sure that you make sensible replies and cover all parts of the question. • Ask questions. You should have some questions from the preparation that you have done. You could ask about topics such as teaching and assessment methods, how the course is organised, work placements or the kind of jobs that students have gone on to from that course. If your prepared questions have been answered then let the interviewer know that you had questions but that they have all been answered during the interview.
Student handout / Resource Reference: A18
During the Interview
• Don’t worry if you found it hard – some interviews are designed to stretch the candidates.
Example Questions Here are some general questions, which are typical of the kind of questions asked at interview. The interviewers are trying to find out your level of motivation and suitability for their course. 1. Why did you choose your present BTEC, AVCE, Access, A-level courses? 2. What do you hope to get out of this degree course? 3. Why did you choose this college/university? 4. What aspects of the course particularly interest you? 5. What can you contribute to this course? 6. What work experience have you done that is relevant to the course? 7. What are your plans following this course?
If you have applied for a specific vocational course, the interviewer may ask some more searching questions e.g. Nursing 1. Why do you want to be a nurse? 2. What branch of nursing interests you most? Why? 3. What experience do you have of nursing? 4. What are your views on emergency department waiting times, MRSA etc? (other topical issues in the National Health Service) Teaching 1. Why do you want to become a teacher? 2. In your opinion what makes a good (subject) teacher? 3. What do you understand by equal opportunities? 4. What motivates you to teach early years/primary children? 5. How could you use your interests and hobbies in the classroom? 6. What are your views on the bullying in the classroom? (or questions on other education topics in the news) Performing Arts 1. Why do you want to study performing arts? 2. What aspects of performing arts are you particularly interested in? 3. What performing styles are you influenced by? 4. What challenges does theatre face in the digital age?
You will find examples of typical interview questions in a book called ‘Degree Course Offers’ by Brian Heap and you can normally find this in your guidance centre or careers library.
Tutorâ€™s notes / Resource Reference: A19
Entrance Exams Some HE courses require additional assessment of their applicants before being in a position to make a decision on their application. Entrance exams are used for a handful of courses and/or institutions. Entrance exams that your students may be asked to undertake include: BioMedical Admissions Test (BMAT) www.bmat.org.uk For entry to medicine and veterinary schools. Graduate Medical School Admissions Test (GAMSAT) - www.gamsatuk.org For entry into medicine. The National Admissions Test for Law (LNAT) - www.lnat.ac.uk For entry to law. UK Clinical Aptitude Test (UKCAT) www.ukcat.ac.uk For entry to medical and dental schools. Most entrance exams have a deadline that students need to adhere to if they are looking to apply for these courses. Usually the deadline is either the August or September the year before entry and entrance exams are held on one date. Tests are usually a minimum of two hours and there may be a test fee that the students need to pay.
Summary: Choosing an HE Course and Institution
Choosing an HE Course and Institution In this section we have looked at a range of themes and topics relating to course and institution choices. The main points are: • There are over 50,000 HE courses available so it’s important that your students research thoroughly. • There are various HE courses that students can study including; Degree, HND, Foundation Degree, Foundation Year - each with a different emphasis and focus. • Students should look at each course in detail so they are fully aware of the course content and opportunities available. No two courses are exactly the same so it’s best they choose those that are right for them. • Ideally students course choice should dictate which institutions they look at, not the other way around. Different institutions will have their own positives and negatives. • The UCAS website is an invaluable tool for researching the variety of full time courses available. Students will be able to find out further details on each course by looking at the UCAS Entry Profiles. • Students should be aware of the costs associated with their course choices and should research the student funding available for their course of interest both from the department where they will study and the institution itself. • Open days are another excellent way of finding out more about the course and the institution. Students need to be aware of the course and have a list of questions prepared for points they need clarifying. Open days are held all year round and there are usually open days specifically for applicants or those holding offers. • For those students interested in moving away from home, it’s important they look into the student accommodation options available at their chosen institutions. In particular; how much will it cost? Is it guaranteed for first year students? What is included in the cost? How long is the contract? Is it far from where they will be studying? • Students should also be aware of the secondary stages of the application process such as interviews and entrance exams and should check if these are applicable to courses they apply to.
SECTION B: Personal Statements
Personal Statements Introduction A crucial component of the UCAS application is the personal statement which is the student’s chance to sell themselves to their chosen HEIs. It is vital that your students write and agree their personal statement with you and this section includes resources to help them to write an effective statement. Personal statements can take time to develop and therefore it is important students start work on these as early as possible. In this section you will find examples of good and weak personal statements and information on how to produce a good personal statement including using UCAS Entry Profiles.
Resources You will find the following resources available in this section: Tutors notes A tutor’s guide to personal statements
Using UCAS Entry Profiles
Student handouts A student’s guide to personal statements
Personal statements do’s and don’ts
A student’s guide to using UCAS Entry Profiles
Example personal statements
Example entry profiles
Example evaluated personal statement
Personal statement evaluation sheet B10 Worksheet for writing a personal statement
Lesson plans Writing a personal statement
Tutor’s notes / Resource Reference: B1
A Tutor’s Guide to Personal Statements The personal statement is a key section on the UCAS form and in the application process. This is your students’ chance to sell themselves to the admissions tutors, by selecting and emphasising information about themselves and their suitability for their chosen higher education course. For most courses, students will be up against many other candidates with similar predicted grades. The student’s statement should help them stand out from the crowd by emphasising their passion for their subject, their personal attributes, skills and experience. As selection interviews are not common place, for many students the personal statement will be the only chance to impress the admissions tutors. Students need to take the time and effort to get it right. If students are applying for courses where they will be invited for interview the personal statement will usually form the basis of the interview. Most students find it difficult to sell themselves as they often think that talking about their strengths and achievements is arrogant and self-centred. You need to assure them that the personal statement is there for them to express and highlight their strengths and as long as each point is backed up with examples, it becomes more factual than boastful! Admissions tutors are looking for students who can analyse their experiences in order to give clear reasons for their application and course choice. A common weakness is that students describe what they have been doing, but do not relate this to what they hope to get out of their higher education course.
“A student should provide a personal statement that reflects the desire to work within the exercise and health industry. The statement should provide detail on the applicant’s background, qualifications, work experience and personal hobbies and interests. As a university student it is common for most to work alongside studying and therefore evidence of the ability to do this is of relevance”. Admissions Tutor Exercise, Physical Activity and Health.
A Tutor’s Guide to Personal Statements ...continued...
The style, content, spelling, punctuation and grammatical correctness of the student’s personal statement gives the admissions tutors an idea of the student’s written communication skills and their ability to express information and ideas clearly. There is no one accepted structure, but a good personal statement includes the following:
This is the part that admissions tutors are most interested in and should form the majority of the personal statement. Students should give clear and valid reasons for applying for a course and why they will be a good student on the course. It will not be enough for students just to say they are interested in it. They need to say which aspects interest them and why. They should demonstrate an awareness and understanding of the subject beyond their current studies which will in turn demonstrate their interest and enthusiasm for the course. Information on course choice should contain most of the following: • Why they enjoy the subject. • How they first became interested in the subject. • Which parts of the subject they are particularly interested in and why. • Which areas of the subject they are particularly looking forward to studying in greater depth. • Any relevant modules / essays / topics previously studied. • Any additional reading they have done around the subject outside of their studies at college. • Any involvement in masterclasses, summer schools, Gifted and Talented programmes or other enrichment or extension activities. • What particular subject related skills they have and how they got them. • How the course will build upon what they are studying at college. Although students can apply to up to five courses, they will only submit one personal statement. If students have inconsistent course choices, for example if they are applying for a number of unrelated degree programmes, writing about course choice becomes almost impossible. Where this happens students need to look at their reasons for their course choices and what has attracted them to each one. If they are interested in a number of disciplines, they should look to see if there are courses that combine them all. If they are interested in a niche subject offered by a handful of institutions, they should look at related courses within the subject area. If in doubt they should seek advice from a guidance worker or Connexions Personal Adviser. They can also contact the institution for guidance. It is essential that the personal statement relates to all admissions tutors that will read it rather than just the ‘first choice’ of the individual.
If the student has a particular career aim they should say what it is and how they think that the course can help them to achieve it. Students may also want to say how they first became interested in their chosen career. • What career do they have in mind? • What has made them want to follow this career? • How does the student’s course choice fit with their career aim? If the student does not have a clear career aim, they should focus their statement on their course choice.
Personal Skills and Qualities
It’s important that students mention the personal skills that they have that are relevant to the course and/or their intended career. As well as mentioning these it is vital that students back these up with solid examples. Vocational students have a wide range of skills that they develop on their Level 3 course such as; team work; communication skills; time management; project management; applied practical skills; self motivation, organisation; dealing with continued assessment; as well as subject specific skills. All of which will be relevant to courses they will consider studying at HE.
Relevant Experience for the Course
Students should mention relevant work experience. This is particularly important for students applying for professions such as nursing, physiotherapy, teaching, social work, medicine, performing arts, art & design. They should explain what they did, skills learned/used, and say what insights they gained into their particular area of study or their chosen career. • How has any relevant work experience confirmed their interest in this subject/career? • What did they do for work experience and what skills did they gain from it? • What skills have they gained which show that they have the skills for university life? E.g. self motivation, self discipline, social skills etc. Some courses e.g. Diagnostic Radiography will require students to undertake specific work experience and submit a signed clinical report before applying.
Positions of Responsibility
Students should mention any recent positions of responsibility they have held, such as prefect, student governor, member of school or college council, as well as any part time work and responsibilities that they have undertaken. They should say what transferable skills they have gained from these positions such as problem solving, working with people, organisation or team working. If you are advising adult learners it is important that they draw up previous experiences whether they are from employment or their own personal life.
Hobbies and Interests
These help to give an impression of the student as a person. Students should point out how their hobbies and interests have contributed to the development of their skills or personal qualities and how these relate to their course choice or likely success at higher education. Students should stress any successes such as Duke of Edinburgh awards, representing the school in sport, taking part in school productions, music exams or community work.
The personal statement should end with a concluding statement to bring the admissions tutor’s attention back to the student’s course choice and their ability to succeed at higher education. Students need to be aware that when they apply online, the personal statements will be restricted to 4,000 characters (including spaces) or 47 lines of text (including blank lines) so it’s important that the personal statement is concise and succinct.
Students should avoid copying example personal statements that they find on the internet or from printed publications. UCAS have introduced a Similarity Detection Service to scan personal statements to see if they contain copied material from a library of personal statements within their system and sample statements from a variety of websites and other sources. Personal statements with a similarity level of 10% of more will be reviewed by members of the UCAS Similarity Detection Service who will notify the relevant HEIs and the student. Further information on the Similarity Detection System along with frequently asked questions relating to plagiarism and UCAS personal statements can be found at www.ucas.com/students/startapplication/apply/plagiarism
Tutor’s notes / Resource Reference: B1
Do’s and Don’ts for Students Writing their Personal Statements Students should: • Set time aside to complete their statement. This may mean making several drafts before getting it right. • Make the themselves.
• Make the most of what they have done, drawing on genuine examples of relevant skills and experience. They need to be honest and not make things up. • Check spelling and grammar – don’t just rely on ‘spell check’! • Read the prospectus for specific details of the courses that they are applying to. • Consult the UCAS Entry Profile of the institutions that they are applying to. • Seek help and guidance from tutors and/or careers guidance staff with each draft. • Print a copy of their completed form for reference.
Students should not: • Repeat information that already appears on the application form. • Talk about personal qualities and skills without giving examples or supporting evidence. • Waffle, just to fill in the space as fewer, well-chosen words are more effective than a lot of irrelevant information. • Make spelling, grammar punctuation mistakes.
• Copy sample personal statements and submit as their own. The personal statement needs to be all the students own work and will be checked by UCAS’ plagiarism software.
Tutor’s notes / Resource Reference: B2
Using UCAS Entry Profiles Students often wonder what information to include in their personal statements which is relevant to the course. This information can be accessed via the Entry Profiles listed alongside course details on the UCAS website. Entry Profiles are available for the majority of courses listed on the UCAS website.
UCAS Entry Profiles have information on entry qualifications, selection criteria, admissions policies (including interviews and/ or auditions), information on what it would be like to study that specific subject, details on the course and the skills and qualities required. The information supplied for each Entry Profile is provided by each institution so is an excellent guide and can assist your students when they come to write their personal statement. Courses that have a full Entry Profile will have a red ‘EP’ next to them. Those courses without a full entry profile will still have details about entry qualifications. In each Entry Profile, students will also be able to find out what fees are being charged and the bursary and scholarship offering available. As well as providing useful information that can be used in the personal statement, entry profiles can also assist when researching courses and distinguishing between courses with the same titles.
Further information on UCAS Entry Profiles can be found at www.ucas.com/students/beforeyouapply/whattostudy/entryprofiles
Student handout / Resource Reference: B3
A Student’s Guide to Personal Statements Your personal statement is your big chance: • To sell yourself to the university or college admissions tutors. It might be your only chance, if you are not called for interview. • To explain your motivation and passion for your subject. • To emphasise your personal attributes and experiences that will make you stand out from the crowd. Your personal statement is often the most challenging part of the application form to complete – don’t worry if you can not think of what to write at first – you are not on your own – you have your tutor and college guidance team to help. It usually takes several attempts and re-writes before you get it right – but stick with it – YOU CAN DO IT!
“Admissions tutors are looking for students who can analyse their experiences in order to give clear reasons for applying and their course choice. A common weakness is that students describe what they have been doing, but do not relate this to what they hope to get out of their higher education course. The student should provide a personal statement that reflects the desire to work within the exercise and health industry. The statement should provide detail on the applicant’s background, qualifications, work experience and personal hobbies and interests. As a University student it is common for most to work alongside studying and therefore evidence of the ability to do this is of relevance”. Admissions Tutor Exercise, Physical Activity and Health.
A Student’s Guide to Personal Statements ...continued...
Personal Skills and Qualities
Make sure you mention the personal skills and qualities that you have and back these up with examples. Some of these will be specific to your chosen course or profession; others may be transferable skills – skills you can apply to a variety of situations.
Your personal statement should contain most of the following:
Relevant Experience for the Course
• Which parts of the subject you are particularly interested in and why.
Mention here your work experience. This is particularly important for those who are applying for vocational courses such as nursing, physiotherapy, teaching, law, dentistry, medicine and veterinary science, where the admissions tutor will expect you to have done this before you apply. What skills did you use/develop? Have you been on any taster courses related to your chosen subject? Don’t just describe what you have done – say what insights it has given you into your area of study or chosen profession. Also try to avoid talking about work experience you are planning to do – focus on what you have done.
• Which areas of the subject you are particularly looking forward to studying in greater depth at higher education level.
Positions of responsibilities These are things like being a prefect at school or tutor group rep, you have undertaken, participation in Young Enterprise, cadets etc. Also experiences from previous employment and at home. You need to say what skills you have gained from these positions of responsibility. These will be skills such as teamwork, problem solving, dealing with others or working on your own initiative.
Your Hobbies and Interests Admissions tutors also want to know about you as an individual as well as your academic capability. This helps to give an impression of you as a person and the contribution you can make to the student experience - include any Duke of Edinburgh award schemes or representing school, college or county at sport.
• Why you enjoy the subject. • When and why you first become interested in the subject.
• Any relevant modules / essays / topics previously studied. • Any additional reading you have done around the subject outside of you studies at college. • Relevant skills and personal qualities you hold that are relevant to the course. • Involvement in masterclasses, summer schools, Gifted and Talented programmes and other enrichment activities. • Skills you have relevant to the course. • How you will build upon what you’ve studied in your course at college. Your personal statement should be: • Well organised - you need to make it easy for the admissions tutor to find their way through it, don’t jump about from one idea to another. Break it up with paragraphs so that it is not just one large block of text. • Check for spelling mistakes. Spelling errors will make you look slapdash and will not impress the tutor. • Use correct grammar and express yourself clearly. • Your own work – avoid copying personal statements given in books or on websites. Your personal statement will be scanned by UCAS’s detection software to check for copying. Be honest in what you put down and be ready to back up anything that you claim. • Clear and concise. Don’t waffle or go into unnecessary detail – you only have 4,000 characters to write your personal statement. • The best it can be! Take time to work on your personal statement even if it means completing a few draft versions. Avoid leaving it to the last minute as you will rush it and will make mistakes and forget to include relevant information.
“A personal statement should be clearly and accurately written. It’s not a good sign especially when applying for English if there are misspelt words, grammatical errors etc.” Admissions Tutor English and Creative Writing
Your personal statement shows the admissions tutors evidence of your communications skills. They are looking for people who can express ideas and information clearly. Keep a copy of your personal statement, so that if you are called for interview, you can refresh your memory of what you wrote.
The Undergraduate Admissions Office at Durham University have listed the following common questions asked of personal statements which can be found on their website www.dur.ac.uk/undergraduate/ apply/personalstatement/questions Q1 How far back should I go when mentioning my extra-curricula activities? A1 You should only mention those things which help support your application; a long list of everything you’ve done is much less impressive than picking on one or two things and writing about the skills you’ve learnt through them. Remember also that recent activities may be of more significance than those a long time ago, especially achievements and awards gained when you were six! Q2 I think I have achieved some truly great things in my life, should I not make sure these achievements make up the bulk of my personal statement? A2 Anything that makes you unique and interesting is important but always remember that an admissions tutor is primarily interested in why you want to study their course. Q3 I’m not interesting or unique! A3 Of course you are! Everyone has special skills, experiences or achievements to mention. There aren’t set ideas for what admissions tutors are looking for, they just want to know why you want to study their course. Q4 Do I need to use long words and elaborate language to impress the Admissions Tutor? A4 No! An Admissions Tutor will be impressed by the use of good English; a personal statement needs to be well written, in simple English, and laid out carefully. If you try too hard to impress with clever language you will normally make your statement harder to read and your reasons for wanting to study the course less clear.
Further information on writing a personal statement can be found at www.ucas.com/ students/startapplication/apply09/ personalstatement/ and in the book Degree Course Offers 2009 Entry by Brian Heap.
Student handout / Resource Reference: B4
Do’s and Don’ts for writing your Personal Statement You should: • Consult the UCAS Entry Profiles of the institutions you are applying to. • Set time aside to complete your statement. This may mean making several drafts before getting it right. • Make the statement unique to you. • Make the most of what you have done, drawing on genuine examples of relevant experience. You need to be honest and not make things up. • Check for spelling and grammar mistakes and print out a copy of your completed form in case you are called for interview. • Read the prospectus for specific details of the course you are applying for. • Seek help and guidance from tutors and/or careers guidance staff if needed. • Meet deadlines set by your school/college for drafting and approving personal statements.
You should not: • Repeat information that already appears on the application form. • Talk about personal qualities and skills without giving examples or supporting evidence. • Waffle, just to fill in the space as fewer, well-chosen words are more effective than a lot of irrelevant information. • Make spelling, grammar and punctuation mistakes. • Copy/plagiarise another person’s personal statement.
Student handout / Resource Reference: B5
A Student’s Guide to Using UCAS Entry Profiles Information on what to include in your personal statement can be found in the UCAS Entry Profiles on the UCAS website. Entry Profiles are available for the majority of courses listed on the UCAS website and those with a full Entry Profile will have a red ‘EP’ next to them.
Entry Profiles contain further information on: • entry qualifications. • selection criteria. • admissions policies (including interviews and/or auditions). • information on what it would be like to study that specific subject. • details on the course and the skills and qualities needed for the course. • the interests, personal qualities or relevant experience the admissions tutor is looking for in an applicant. The information supplied for each Entry Profile is provided by each institution so is an excellent guide and can assist when you come to write your personal statement. As well as providing useful information that can guide you when writing your personal statement, UCAS Entry Profiles can also help when researching courses and distinguishing between courses with the same title.
Further information on UCAS Entry Profiles can be found at www.ucas.com/students/beforeyouapply/whattostudy/entryprofiles
Lesson plan / Resource Reference: B6
Writing a Personal Statement Target: Students who are completing applications for higher education.
• Student handout (B4): Personal Statements Do’s and Don’ts (one each).
A. Introduction to the Session
Objective: To give the students the knowledge and confidence to write an effective UCAS personal statement.
• Student handout (B3): A Student’s Guide to Personal Statements (one each).
Learning outcomes: At the end of the session students will:
• Copies of the student handout (B7): Sample Personal Statements
• Understand the importance of the personal statement in the UCAS application process. • Understand the difference between technical and transferable skills and their relevance to the personal statement. • Be able to explain the skills and attributes that they have, which make them a suitable candidate for their chosen course and give evidence of how they were acquired. • State their reasons for their course and institution choice. • Write an effective personal statement. Time: One hour approx NB Students will need to work on their statements in their own time. Individual tutorial time is also needed for personal feedback.
• Student handout (B5): A Student’s Guide to Using UCAS Entry Profiles (one each)
• Copies of the student handout (B8): Example UCAS Entry Profiles • Student handout (B9): Evaluated Personal Statement (one each) • Copies of the student handout (B10): Personal Statement Evaluation Sheet • Student handout (B11): Worksheet for Writing a Personal Statement (one each) • If you have example personal statements from previous students you can edit out personal information and use these to tailor the session for your student group. Matching UCAS Entry Profiles can be found on www.ucas.com
Introduce objectives of session. Introduce the importance of the personal statement. B. Group Discussion Ask your students what they think is the purpose of the personal statement. Clarify the purpose with them. Let them suggest what it should include either as a whole group or in pairs with feedback to main group. Discuss their ideas of what should be included and comment. Go through what a personal statement should contain by going through the Student’s Guide to Personal Statements handout. Emphasise the importance of backing up what they say with evidence. C. The ‘Do’s and Don’ts’ of Personal Statements Run through the Personal Statements - Do and Don’ts handout and see if your students can suggest any others. D. Evaluating a Personal Statement Give out Sample Personal Statement 1. Ask students to read through and note down what they think about it – good, bad and suggestions for improvements. Give out the example evaluated personal statement and ask students to read this. Do their notes match? Split the group into 5 smaller groups and give each group a sample personal statement from numbers 2 to 5. Ask the group to evaluate their given personal statement. If time allows ask them to evaluate other examples. Take feedback. Hand out the corresponding entry profiles and ask them to comment on what could have been included to make the personal statement stronger. E. Starting a Personal Statement Ask students to work in pairs, with a friend if possible, to work through the handout Worksheet for Writing a Personal Statement. Assessment of Learning Students to use the worksheet and make a first draft of their personal statement. Set a date for students to have first draft ready for you to give feedback and advice.
Sample Personal Statements Sample Personal Statement 1
Sample Personal Statement 2
This statement is written by a student studying for a BTEC National in Public Services and applying for a BA/BSc (Hons) in Outdoor Studies and Environmental Studies.
This statement was written by a student who has returned to study after a year out. The student is studying AVCE travel and tourism (double award) and a 3 unit AVCE in ICT. The student is applying for a BA (Hons) degree in Business Management.
I have applied for a degree in outdoor studies because I have always enjoyed a wide range of sports and physical exercise of all kinds. I have my Duke of Edinburgh Bronze Award and am currently working towards my silver award. From these studies I have gained considerable skills in leadership, camp craft first aid, map reading and also the ability to work well in a team. I look forward to learning more about Environmental Science and Conservation some of which I have studied at college. I have gained a lot of knowledge from my BTEC National Diploma in Public services, and I have learnt much about political affairs, world events and human behaviour.
“I feel I have a lot of enthusiasm for my studies, and I think I can gain value from an Outdoor studies degree”. I believe that my range of skills will be relevant and useful and I have also learnt other skills, through my part time work as a sales assistant. Working with the public has enhanced my communication skills and I feel that all of these factors and my choice of degree will help me to fulfil my ambition to join the RAF as a junior flying officer. I am already a member of the RAF training corps, and hold the rank of corporal. I have also been recently awarded Best Junior NCO for the squadron. In my spare time I enjoy water sports especially kayaking, windsurfing, jet skiing and swimming. I am lucky to have a good circle of friends, and I enjoy spending time with them when I can. I look forward to being a part of university life. I feel that the experience will greatly improve my confidence.
I am currently studying AVCE Travel and tourism (double award) and AVCE ICT (3 unit award). I chose a course in travel and tourism as I find it very interesting and also enjoy travel and experiencing other countries and cultures. Areas of the course I have enjoyed most have been the business related units: marketing, business systems and human resources. This year I have also decided to take AVCE ICT as an additional subject as I feel that the skills and knowledge it will develop are vital in every aspect of the business world. I also have a keen interest in computers. I feel that during my AVCE studies I have learnt many additional skills, including Internet search, problem solving, decision making, working with others and delivering presentations.
“I have chosen to study a business related course at university as I wish to progress to a career in business management after university”. I have a keen interest in business and this has developed further since I worked full time for Tesco, during a gap year, taken after my GCSEs. I enjoy working with other people, as part of a team and also on my own initiative. I also get great satisfaction from giving excellent customer service. I have taken part in a Tesco training programmes to become a qualified green grocer and also had training in other aspects of the business, such as customer service, business law and stock loss. This has given me a greater insight and relevant knowledge of the business world and supervisory experience as I was regularly left in charge when the supervisor was absent.
In year 11, I participated in a Young Enterprise company, which produced and sold photo frames. I was elected by the other members to take on the role of managing director in the company. This role gave me experience of managing other people and coordinating their roles. Additionally I had to ensure that the team met strict deadlines. I achieved a pass in the young enterprise examination. Also I planned and delivered a drugs education lesson to year 7 students when I was in year 11. I have participated in first aid training with St John’s Ambulance and achieved the young lifesavers award. During my time at the high school I took part in school productions and had a leading role in two of the productions. Out of school I still work part time for JJB sports and this is constantly adding to my knowledge of the business world. I have recently been nominated for a customer service excellence award for helping a disabled shopper with her shopping, when no one else in the store noticed her. I have further employment experience, working as a kitchen supervisor at a cricket club, where I was responsible for managing a small team of staff. I also completed work experience at a local primary school. In my spare time I play football and enjoy golf. I also listen to music. I am a willing and keen student who is eager to learn more. I feel that I am able to communicate well with people of all ages and at all levels and I love meeting new people.
“I am determined to complete my education and become a business manager and look forward to studying business management at university”.
Please note sample personal statements are included in this pack for the purposes of the evaluation exercise described in resource reference B6. These are not necessarily examples of good practice and should not in anyway be replicated or edited for use by students.
Sample Personal Statement 4
Sample Personal Statement 5
This statement was written by a student studying for a BTEC National Diploma in Sports Science. The student was applying for a BSC (Hons) degree in Sport, Coaching and Exercise Science.
This statement was written by a student applying for a BSc (Hons) Adult Nursing degree.
This statement was written by a mature student applying for a BSc (Hons) Midwifery degree.
Having failed my nursing course on the last module, but successfully achieving my certificate in higher education in healthcare studies I am looking at courses and job prospects where I can extend and build on my nurse training. Having had placements in the heart emergency centre and the acute medical unit on the emergency floor of the Royal Liverpool Hospital as part of my nurse training I enjoyed the fast paced and ever changing atmosphere and diverse challenges which presented themselves day after day. I am a practical person and am able to react appropriately to different situations and putting theory into practice.
I am a 30yr old with three small boys and married to Mark my husband. I have always had an interest in being a midwife, I felt under achieved, I never thought I would ever be able to go to university and get a qualification. I began working as a healthcare assistant at Wythenshawe hospital at just 18, I worked in the high dependency unit for seven years before taking a break to have my second son, I returned back to the same hospital and worked in theatres where I under took N.V.Q level 3 in health and social care, theatres and anaesthetics.
My career interests are in Sports Science, sports therapy and Rehabilitation.
“I am currently completing a BTEC National in Sport Science”. Also in connection with this BTEC, I am studying a VTCT (Vocational Training Charitable Trust) course in sports management and STA (Swimming Teachers Association) course in Swimming Teaching. I thoroughly enjoy the learning and training in which I am engrossed. I want to learn more about coaching because I get so much out of sport and would like to get people involved, so that they too can enjoy sport. The areas in which I already coach are canoeing, swimming, rock climbing, badminton, tennis and cycling. On Saturdays I work at a centre for children with special needs ranging from behavioural problems to ‘all care children’ in wheel chairs. This job has taught me an amazing amount about others. These insights have enabled me to be more mature in the way I think and have taught me constructive compassion for others, especially children. For the past four years I have been learning to play the drum kit, which I now play in a worship band at my church as well as in an informal band with my friends from college.
“I would like to train to be a paramedic under a professional and/or a hands on training to allow me to combine my care experience, qualifications and nurse training experience”. I received good sound feedback from the staff I worked with in the emergency department. I would really like to be considered for entry to your course either at year one or an advanced standing utilising my certificate of higher education in healthcare studies from Liverpool John Moores university which includes 120 credits at level 1 and 60 credits from level 2. I have a full UK Driving licence category B with Pass plus certificate and am willing to update this as appropriate for the ambulance service. Please would you consider me for your course to become a Paramedic.
Another hobby of mine is professional sound lighting and projection. I have gained valuable experience in setting up and running gigs, holiday clubs and big worship events for in excess of 150 people. I have worked for a local sound and lighting firm which has broadened my knowledge. Every Sunday my team and I run the sound and projection equipment for the church services. As you can see I take part in many activities within varied groups. But I also enjoy time by myself “chilling out” listening to music, getting down and completing course work and preparing stories and games for the clubs in which I am involved. In general I can say that I enjoy being busy, stretched and involved.
Please note sample personal statements are included in this pack for the purposes of the evaluation exercise described in resource reference B6. These are not necessarily examples of good practice and should not in anyway be replicated or edited for use by students.
Student handout / Resource Reference: B7
Sample Personal Statement 3
I was then offered a secondment by the trust to go to Edgehill university to train as an operating department practitioner, I am currently under taking this at present. Working in theatres, it seemed natural to progress into this career, but still there is a burning passion for midwifery, I have a lot of experience in caring and have my own life experiences as a mother and giving birth, I feel being a full time student already, I am fully aware of what is expected of me as a student and the amount of work involved in an intense course, how I am able to juggle placements and assignments with research and family life. I have been committed, totally to university and in all I have achieved and feel I have done well in balancing all the commitments.
“I would love to be able to have the chance to prove my worth, because there is no better career I can think of than helping in the smallest way, in bringing a new life in to the world”. I would love to be apart of the pre natal care of a pregnant lady and through to the birth and aftercare that follows. I will be able to express the care I have received and put it in to practice in an area that is so wonderful. I am aware there can be problems and the patients will be of all ages and races, come form different backgrounds and are from all walks of life, but hopefully if you were to offer me the chance, I can prove myself and fulfil a burning ambition inside.
Example UCAS Entry Profiles BSc (Hons) Outdoor Studies Entry Profile
Does this describe you? Are you a Good Communicator? You will need to be confident in your communication of ideas. You will be making presentations to small groups of people, and will have to effectively demonstrate your technical and practical skills through effective communication Are you Confident with Numbers? Although high levels of numeracy are not essential for this course, it would be useful to you if you had some ability to work with figures. Are you Comfortable with Information Technology? It is not essential to have Information Technology skills to start an Outdoor Studies degree at this University. There will be plenty of opportunity to develop your skills whilst on the course, especially in the areas of wordprocessing and the use of the internet as a research resource. Are you Open Minded? Open-mindedness is important in Outdoor Studies, as you need to realise the breadth and depth of Outdoor Studies and to appreciate the variety of teaching and learning strategies employed on the programme.
BSc (Hons) Business Management Entry Profile
Does this describe you? Do you have commitment? As with any honours degree course, your personal commitment is crucial to the level of success you achieve. There is no doubt that in this case, the more you put in the more you will get out. Are you career minded? Because the business and management studies degree covers many aspects of business and organisational operations, the skills and knowledge will help you focus and develop your career aspirations. Do you like working and communicating with others? As well as being able to work on your own you will also be involved in group activities such as, presentations and preparing group reports. The interpersonal skills you build up here are so important in developing successful working and business relationships in organisations. Are you confident when solving problems? If you feel you are already good at problem solving then you will have ample opportunity to develop this skill further. Problem solving is a key skill for anyone working in business organisations. This course will help develop your existing skill level by presenting you with problem solving activities and tasks. 46
Do you work well as part of a team? We are looking for students who are prepared to get involved when working in a group or team, whether it’s in discussion groups, on a skills based session in the outdoors or on an expedition. Are you Analytical and Reflective? The ability to analyse, reflect on and think about the learning which takes place in the outdoors, and the ramifications of this for individuals, groups and professional development, is an important skill we would like to see in all of our students. Have you got some ‘Get up and Go’? Students should be enthusiastic about the outdoors and preferably should have had experience in that environment (e.g. Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme, Expeditions, Environmental Work, work in an Outdoor Centre, or with a ‘client’ group using the outdoors as a medium). If this hasn’t been possible, students should have made the most of the opportunities available to them: our students have some ‘Get up and Go!’ Other things WE are looking for... We like our students to be willing and enthusiastic about participating in activities, including those activities and situations in which they have no previous experience.
Are you well organised? If you are then your organisational skills will serve you well in dealing with the various aspects of learning in higher education. If not, then we will show you how to become more organised, how to more effectively manage your time and how to deal with the demands of the course. Do you have a questioning outlook? Successful managers question the status quo and seek to identify new opportunities. We aim to develop skills such as critical analysis, reflection and problem solving during your time here. If you already have an inquisitive mind, this is a good start. Is this course right for you? Do you want a course with practical experience as well as theory? Employers today want graduates who are effective, efficient workers from day one. A degree at the University of Cumbria provides you with the chance to develop and acquire not only knowledge but also business-related skills. We make great efforts to make the course content real and applied. You will find a number of modules on the course that link directly to real world organisations and events including an optional work placement module.
Is this course right for you? Other things you should know: This course attracts students from a wide range of backgrounds, including careerchangers. This provides an interesting and varied student group and makes for a richer learning experience. Campus Visit Choosing where to go to university is one of the most important decisions of your life. Before you take your final decision as to where to apply, why don’t you take the opportunity to find out more about the University experience by coming along to an Open Day? Take up the chance to view our attractive, well-equipped campuses and take in the up-to-the-minute teaching and learning resources. Campus tours include the chance to look round student accommodation. You can also quiz your student tour guide and get and insight into what being at the university is really like! This is also an ideal opportunity to meet the teaching staff and ask questions about our broad range of study options. In addition, talks and presentations provide information about the individual courses on offer, as well as giving details on what to expect at this University.
What will you get out of the course? Oral communication skills You will be involved in a range of activities which will further improve your ability to communicate orally. Whether it is a class debate, or simulated interviewing, our aim is to increase your life skills and to make you more employable. Written communication skills You have probably written a number of essays over the years, but have you ever written a business report? In the world of work people need this skill. This is one of the areas of written communication we emphasise in our course. Self-management skills One of our main aims is for you to become a person capable of managing your own time, and your own learning. From day one we will be encouraging you to take certain responsibilities for self-management of a range of tasks, something which is expected in the world of work. Career opportunities With a degree in business, a vast range of opportunities are open to you. Past students work in human resources, marketing in insurance companies, working for local government. Others have gone on to teach or to take higher degrees.
Student handout / Resource Reference: B8
BSc (Hons) Midwifery Entry Profile
What skills/qualities do I need?
What can this course offer me?
Midwives need to have a number of qualities to fulfil their role. They should be:
Understanding of woman-centred care Fundamental to modern midwifery is the concept of woman-centred care. Every woman has unique needs, in addition to those arising from her medical history. These will derive from her particular ethnic, cultural, social and family background. In order to provide this care, midwives need to work in partnership with the expectant mother, understanding the right to full information regarding the options and choices of maternity care available.
Career prospects are good for newly qualified midwives. Many of our graduates take up posts in the NHS. Graduates are also free to seek employment anywhere in the EU.
Strong external clinical links The programme will provide an integrated course of academic study and clinical experience. You will participate in clinical experiences which reflect the local and national philosophy of care and the changing picture of contemporary midwifery practice.
On successful completion of the programme... You will be eligible to register with the NMC on the Midwives part of the Professional Register and you will also be awarded the degree of BSc (Hons) Midwifery. As a midwife you will offer individual care to women and their families and help them take part in their own planning during pregnancy.
• Intuitive, kind, caring and objective • Able to act as an advocate for women and take responsibility for their own actions • A good team player and able to work in partnership with other professionals • Flexible and adaptable to the circumstances and needs of mothers • Able to treat people in a non-judgemental manner • Professional and maintain accurate and contemporaneous records • Numerate and able to communicate effectively, verbally and in writing • Able to effectively manage their own time
Development of professional competence The definition of professional competence incorporates the statutory and regulatory aspects of Midwifery required to complete the programme. The curriculum, however, extends beyond these legal requirements to include the personal growth of the students in regard to those attitudes, values and characteristics which are significant in modern midwifery. The programme will encourage awareness of teamwork, leadership skills, shared learning and commitment to life long learning, set in the context of midwifery care.
Eligible for professional register Students who successfully complete the programme will be eligible for registration on the Midwives part of the Professional Register for Nursing, Midwifery and Health Visiting.
BSc (Hons) Sports Coaching Science
BSc (Hons) Adult Nursing
Course information This course aims to develop effective coaches through the application of sport and exercise science. The course will develop educated coaches with a theoretical underpinning and practical skill in the fields of Biomechanics, Psychology and Physiology. Chichester is one of a few BASES-endorsed programmes in the UK.
Entry Profile Year One • Studying Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences • Psychology in the Sport and Exercise Environment
What skills/qualities do I need? Communication skills As you will be working within a multi disciplinary team you must be able to:
• Physiology of High Intensity Performance
• Communicate effectively in a variety of settings across cultural domains and age groups
• Research Methods for Sports and Exercise Sciences 1
• Demonstrate awareness of own strengths and limitations
Over the last decade the vocational opportunities for coaches have grown immensely. Athletes at all levels look to their coach for advice, guidance and support, thus placing huge demands on their knowledge and skills.
• Acquisition and Performance of Sports Skills
• Display self presentation skills - maturity, confidence and assertiveness
• Introduction to Sports Biomechanics
• During academic studies you will be expected to:
Students will develop an understanding of the underlying principles controlling performance and learning. The analysis of coaching practice also forms a significant part of the degree, where traditional and non-traditional methods are critically examined. Students are expected to take part in practical coaching sessions, culminating in a work placement in year three.
• Psychology of Skill Acquisition 1
• Relate any familial, voluntary or professional experience of caring for adults
With experience of delivering sport science support to Olympic medallists, Chichester is well placed to provide a significant contribution to athlete services for the 2012 Olympic Games.
• Biomechanics and Performance Analysis in Sport and Exercise
• Demonstrate insight into the complexity of needs
Insight into nursing 50% of the course is spent undertaking clinical practice in differing care settings. You must be able to:
Why this course? • The course will provide students with the scientific background to enable them to prepare athletes, technically, tactically, physically and mentally
• Anatomy and Kinesiology
• Physiology of Endurance Performance
• Actively contribute to seminars, tutorials and workshops • Research Methods for Sports and Exercise Sciences 2 • Psychology of Training and Competition • Physiological Limitations to Performance • Analysis of Coaching Practice (double module)
• Independent Project (double module) • Issues in Sports Coaching Science • Group Dynamics in Sport • Work Placement • Psychology of Skill Acquisition 2
• Debate issues with an open and enquiring outlook Desire to care for adults and their families You will be working with adults with a variety of needs. Therefore you must be able to: • Discuss the reason for choice of career
• Be flexible - able to work shift patterns including days, evenings, weekends and nights.
• Physiology of Training
• Students will be able to assess player and coach performance from the scientific background that they are taught
• Travel between differing care settings in either the private or public health domain
What we look for in an applicant Career opportunities
• Show an awareness of the contemporary issues in relation to adult health care
• Opportunities and knowledge of how to undertake further study in Coaching Science and related areas
• Professional clubs coaching in academies, centres of excellence, club/community coaches
• Demonstrate ability to work with a team
• It will prepare students to enter into employment
• Amateur clubs tennis, squash and golf clubs etc.
• Taught by specialists respecting the varied expertise available within the department
• Industry - hotels, holiday companies, sports development for Sports Governing Bodies, British and overseas
Indicative course content The course modules are all designed to facilitate both learning subject content and continuous development of personal management skills.
• Coach education - Sports Coach UK (SCUK) and equivalent overseas bodies • Teaching Student comment
“After 8 years of coaching it’s great to learn about theory and research that I can relate directly into my practical coaching. It’s also nice to have the content of the Sport Coaching Science degree delivered by lecturers that are actively practicing what they preach in the community”. Year 1 Student
Ability to respond to problems The course will develop your analytical and clinical skills. You should be: • A creative thinker - able to find solutions to problems • Able to work independently or within a group Able to demonstrate commitment to the course The course demands students who are self motivated and able to follow directed self learning. You must be able to: • Demonstrate motivation and commitment to the course • Organise and identify priorities • Demonstrate time management skills • Evidence of recent study The University provides extensive support in developing IT & study skills. However, you should be able to: • Relate past or current experiences to your studies in nursing • Word process assignments and liaise with teaching staff via the internet • Relate numeracy skills to the practice setting and patient care
Therefore you must have evidence of study within the last five years.
Student handout / Resource Reference: B9
Evaluated Personal Statement Course applied to:
BA/BSc (Hons) Outdoor Studies and Environmental Studies Paragraph One
I have applied for a degree in outdoor studies because I have always enjoyed a wide range of sports and physical exercise of all kinds. I have my Duke of Edinburgh Bronze Award and am currently working towards my silver award. From these studies I have gained considerable skills in leadership, camp craft first aid, map reading and also the ability to work well in a team. I look forward to learning more about Environmental Science and Conservation some of which I have studied at college.
In my spare time I enjoy water sports especially kayaking, windsurfing, jet skiing and swimming. I am lucky to have a good circle of friends, and I enjoy spending time with them when I can. I look forward to being a part of university life. I feel that the experience will greatly improve my confidence.
I have gained a lot of knowledge from my BTEC National Diploma in Public services, and I have learnt much about political affairs, world events and human behaviour. I feel I have a lot of enthusiasm for my studies, and I think I can gain value from an Outdoor studies degree. I believe that my range of skills will be relevant and useful and I have also learnt other skills, through my part time work as a sales assistant. Working with the public has enhanced my communication skills and I feel that all of these factors and my choice of degree will help me to fulfil my ambition to join the RAF as a junior flying officer. I am already a member of the RAF training corps, and hold the rank of corporal. I have also been recently awarded Best Junior NCO for the squadron.
• Gives reasons for applying for outdoor studies course.
Evaluation of Paragraph One
• Talks about Duke of Edinburgh awards and the skills that he has gained from participating. Areas for Improvement: • Could have said more about the physical activities and sports that he particularly likes and linked them to course choice. • How will the skills gained through Duke of Edinburgh award help with course study? Are there links to particular parts of the course to show that student already has skills suitable for HE study? • How relevant is the sentence about environmental science and conservation to this paragraph? The student has written a short statement and could easily have expanded this to a new paragraph. As environmental studies are part of this joint degree, the student could have explained what has been learnt from the present course and link it to degree content. • Keep sentences short and concise. • Watch out for incorrect use of capital letters.
Evaluation of Paragraph Two Strengths: • Links career choice to degree choice • Mentions knowledge gained from present course and is enthusiastic about these studies. • Tells admissions tutors about the junior NCO award • Uses part time work to illustrate communication and people skills, which are acknowledged as skills required for HE study. Areas for Improvement: • What skills are in the students ‘range of skills’. How were they obtained? What use will they be to the student at degree level? • What did the student do to gain the junior NCO award? How does this relate to course choice or content? • Watch out for incorrect use of capital letters.
Evaluation of Paragraph Three Strengths: • Shows a rounded sociable person • Benefits of degree will be improvement in confidence Areas for Improvement: • Could have made more of the concluding sentences. Linking career choice to degree content and enthusiasm for the course. • Try to think of alternative ways to start sentences and not start every sentence with ‘I…’ Overall: Is there evidence of motivation of the applicant for course/subject/ life in HE? Yes e.g. working towards silver Duke of Edinburgh award to gain relevant skills Is there evidence of research into subject, course/career? Yes e.g. has researched becoming a RAF junior flying officer Is there evidence of relevant experience and how that relates to the course? Yes e.g. relates skills from Duke of Edinburgh award to degree course Do you get a glimpse of the applicant’s character? Yes, spare time activities show a rounded sociable person How is the statement written? Is it grammatically correct? Does it have spelling mistakes? Writing style needs to be tightened up to include complete sentences but overall it is well written. No spelling mistakes noted, just need to look at use of capital letters. Is there a positive concluding statement? Yes, but could have enthused more.
Personal statement evaluation sheet
Personal statement number
Paragraph One Strengths: Areas for Improvement:
Paragraph Two Strengths: Areas for Improvement:
Paragraph Three Strengths: Areas for Improvement:
Overall Comments Does the student show motivation and enthusiasm for the course/career? Is there evidence of research, is this linked to the course/career? Does the student link relevant experience to course/career choice?
student Handout / Resource Reference: B10
Paragraph Four Strengths: Areas for Improvement:
Paragraph Four Strengths: Areas for Improvement:
Paragraph Five Strengths: Areas for Improvement:
Do you get a flavour of the student themselves? Is there an upbeat concluding statement? How is the statement written? Is it grammatically correct and free of spelling mistakes?
Worksheet for writing a personal statement Writing about your course choice It is important to write about the reasons for choosing the course and to explain these reasons. Try to answer these questions... Why do you enjoy the subject? Which parts of the subject are of particular interest to you and why? (Did you enjoy doing a particular piece of course work or project?) Which parts of the subject would you like to study at university and why? (You have a choice of modules on most courses). Where did your interest in this subject first come from? How has any relevant work experience helped you to decide on a particular subject? What career do you have in mind? What particular subject related skills do you have?
Writing about your career aims This applies if you have a particular career aim. If you are applying for a vocational degree e.g. nursing, teaching or law, you definitely need to answer these questions. What is your career aim? What skills and qualities do you have which will make you suitable for your chosen career? (NB you must provide evidence of these e.g. part time work) How is studying this course going to help you with your chosen career?
student Handout / Resource Reference: B11
Writing about positions of responsibility Here you need to think about the experience that you have gained in college, on work experience and in part time jobs or voluntary work and what skills and personal qualities that you have developed from these that will make you a suitable candidate for the course. These could be job specific or transferable skills. Your personal statement is the place to show off your skills and attributes but you can’t just say ‘I am a well organised, responsible, caring person who is a good team worker’ - you need evidence to prove it. This evidence will come from your school and college life, your part time job, work experience and your interests outside of college.
Are you finding it difficult to think of the skills and qualities that you have? Look at these attributes and skills. Practical
Work under pressure
Working to deadlines
Using own initiative
Try to find some evidence for some of the skills and qualities listed above. Don’t worry if you don’t have them all, three or four with plenty of evidence will be a good start. Skill or attribute:
Writing about your hobbies and interests Admissions tutors like to know a little about what makes you tick – to get a broader picture of you. Take a sentence or two to outline some details of your hobbies/interests and then say why it is relevant to your application. Interest/hobby e.g. Travelling
Outline Variety of locations including India
Relevance Met wide range of people, learnt about different traditions and cultures
Making your personal statement flow
Don’t start every sentence with ‘I’ try to use a variety of language. E.g. Instead of - I have worked part time…. try starting with - My part time work as… Other useful phrases are: Helped me to
An opportunity to
Enabled me to
As well as
Gained insight into
Provided me with
Taking part in
Not to mention
Now get writing!
If your personal statement is well written, uses correct spelling and grammar. It should be OK. Good luck!
section B Summary: Personal statements
Personal statements In this section we have covered the importance of a personal statement which is a key tool used by admissions tutors to decide whether to offer students a place on their course. Students need to sell themselves to admissions tutors and to do so effectively they need to provide information that admissions tutors look for such as: • The motivation of the applicant for course, subject choice, career choice (if appropriate) and life in HE. • The research that he or she has carried out into subject, course, careers. • Evidence of skills needed on the course or for their intended profession. • Relevant experience and how this helped with their course choice? Include gap year with explanation if applicable. • A glimpse of the applicant’s character jobs, responsibilities and interests made relevant to subject/course choice. • Positive concluding statement - I am looking forward to…. In general… • Students should take time to work on their personal statement and not leave it until the last minute. It may take several drafts before the personal statement is of a high standard. • Students need to apply online through Apply which is done via the UCAS website, www.ucas.com. Students should remember that whilst they can apply to up to five courses they will only complete one personal statement. • Personal statements will give away course choice – it’s important that they don’t favour any one institution in their statement. • Students should look to the UCAS Entry Profiles and institution’s prospectuses for information on skills and qualities needed for the course and include these in their statement. • Personal statements need to be clear and concise as students are restricted by space and should be checked for spelling and grammatical mistakes before submission. • Students should take a copy of their personal statement in case they are called for interview so they can review the information submitted.
SECTION C: Writing academic references
Writing academic references Introduction The final step in the UCAS application process is for you as a tutor to complete an academic reference. This section provides information to help you construct a reference that is useful to HE admissions tutors and also contains sample references for you to evaluate. Although much of the information contained in these resources is based on the UCAS reference you will find what you learn can be applied to writing any academic reference.
Resources: You will find the following resources available in this section: Tutorâ€™s notes Writing an Academic Reference
Writing Subject References
Sample UCAS Open References
Writing an Academic Reference HE admissions tutors consider the reference to be a vital part of the application.
They use it to establish the student’s potential for: • Vocational success – will the student have the relevant skills, motivation and determination to achieve their potential both during and after the course? • Academic success - will the student be able to cope with the academic requirements of the course? • Social success – will the student get the most out of non-academic opportunities available at the institution? The information you include in the academic reference is considered along with all the information included in the application form and admissions tutors can tell as much from what you say as well as what you don’t say! The main aim of the academic reference is to assist your students secure a place on an HE course – what you write may well affect their future, so please think carefully about the content.
“The reference should include both professional and personal attributes of the applicant, strengths and weaknesses, predicted grades and overall, an honest opinion of the ability of the applicant to study at HE level”. Admissions Tutor Exercise, Physical Activity and Health
“An academic reference is best adapted to the student, rather than giving too much information about the course. A focused and realistic appraisal of his or her range of skills and aptitudes, and any qualities which distinguish them and make them suitable for their chosen course of study usually does the trick”. Admissions Tutor English and Creative Writing The UCAS reference is now an open reference. Under the Data Protection Act, applicants can ask for a copy of the reference from UCAS. If applying through college students won’t be able to send their application to UCAS without an academic reference. It is important that you set deadlines for your students to complete their application so to allow yourself sufficient time to check the applications and complete the reference. Your college guidance team will be able to guide you on internal deadlines as well as the online application system.
Tutor’s notes / Resource Reference: C1
UCAS Guidelines The following information is published by UCAS and can be found at www.ucas.com It is advised that referees read the application submitted so to understand the intended career direction, chosen courses and preferred institutions of the applicant. Referees shouldn’t repeat any of the information given unless they want to comment on it. The academic reference will be seen by each institution the student wishes to apply to therefore it’s best to avoid directing the reference at any particular institution as each institution will only be aware of courses applied to at their institution.
The reference should be an assessment of the suitability of the student for the higher education course for which they are applying. It should include most of the following:
If you teach or have taught an applicant who has taken a break from education, it is advised that you give details and describe how they compare with others in their class.
• Existing achievement, commenting especially on the subjects relating to the course the student has applied for.
If you are providing a reference for an Access student or a student on a one-year course, you may not know them well enough to provide a full reference. If this is the case, explain this stating that you are providing a temporary reference and that you’ll submit a full reference the following spring. You will then need to sent the full reference to the student’s chosen institutions quoting the student’s personal ID or application number.
• Potential of the student, including their predicted grades. • Motivation and commitment to their chosen course. • Any relevant skills or achievements. • The student’s powers of analysis and independent thought. • Relevant curriculum enrichment and other relevant activities. • Relevant work experience, placements and voluntary work.
• The student’s career plans. • Where applicable their suitability for training for a particular profession e.g. teaching. • Any factors that may affect the student’s future performance, for example, personal circumstances.
Providing the Academic Reference The reference is submitted online with the student’s UCAS application and should not exceed 4,000 characters (this includes spaces) or 47 lines (this includes blank lines). Any text received not already in that manner will be automatically converted. You cannot use bold, italics, underlining or foreign characters (such as á, ë, õ) in the reference. If these types of formatting or foreign characters are used, they will be removed from the text when your reference is pasted onto the application.
• Information about special needs and other requirements. • How the college is involved with widening participation, Aimhigher, Gifted and Talented initiatives and other enrichment and extension activities. If the student has mentioned taking part in these initiatives it would be helpful to comment on their involvement.
Tutor’s notes / Resource Reference: C2
Writing Subject References In addition to writing academic references you may be asked to provide a subject reference for a student who you teach whilst another colleague completes the overall reference. The guidelines given in the previous resource will still be applicable. The following sample subject references are from Aimhigher Northamptonshire and can be found on their website. In each of the four sample subject references, all are around 80 words and give a good idea of the student’s approach to the subject. Although these have been written for A-Level students, these sample references still provide a useful guide to subject references. It is vital to make sure that your reference truly reflects the student’s ability, approach and progression in your subject. • In English Language lessons, Britney engages at an impressively sophisticated level with texts, ideas and manners of approach - expressing her own responses in a strongly persuasive way, but always supportively receptive to the views of others. In both oral and written work, she already displays a distinctive critical voice. She is eager to challenge assertion and has excellent independent study skills which feed evidence into the support of her own responses. She is confidently predicted an A grade for A Level. • In his Physical Education studies, Phillip is valued as a mature, sensible student with an impressive work ethic. Thoughtfully quiet, but not shy, he is constructively respectful of others’ views - yet able to articulate his own ideas in a clear and positive manner. His skills with others connect well with his abilities within teams: he is a talented all-round sportsman, and viewed as an “awesome” rugby player by the school coach. In his A Level Physical Education examinations, he is capable of a C grade this summer. • In RE, where Billy is predicted a grade D in the summer examinations, he has showed an admirable level of determination. His genuine enjoyment of the subject helped him maintain a tremendous degree of effort - and his low grade was both unfortunate and unexpected. Despite setbacks, his approach was always both diligent and motivated - and success is expected in the retakes he has organised. • Throughout John’s AS Mathematics course, in which he achieved a grade E, he displayed his typical enjoyment of a challenge and determination to succeed. Though not a naturally gifted mathematician, he showed great quality in his diligence, determination and perseverance. He was regarded as an exemplary student in a subject he found hard: enthusiastic, open to advice and keen to experiment.
Tutor’s notes / Resource Reference: C3
TUTOR’ S NOTES
Sample UCAS Open References These open references correspond with the sample personal statements numbers 1 to 3 in resource B7. An academic reference evaluation sheet is also included at the end of this resource which can be used to evaluate UCAS references you write.
Sample UCAS Open Reference 1 Reference by a guidance and support tutor, from an FE college. Student is studying for a BTEC National in Public Services and applying for a BA/ BSc Hons degree in Outdoor Studies and Environmental Studies.
Estimated Grades BTEC National Diploma In Public Services It is estimated that the full award will be achieved, several modules at distinction. Key Skills Communication at level 3 is an achievable target.
came to college from one of our local schools with good GCSE grades, including English, Maths and science and has continued to work very well on her chosen programme.
Paediatric First Aid Successfully completed.
Academic Qualities BTEC National Diploma In Public Services has consistently performed at a very high level and reports from all of the teaching staff are very encouraging. She has enthusiastically participated in all aspects of the programme, including residential and adventure activities.
Character and Personality is a pleasant young women who has an excellent attitude to work and a steady disposition. She is a very confident person who takes a mature and sensible approach to all she does. She is actively involved with her local church, RAF Cadet Group, Duke of Edinburgh Award, voluntary group ‘DIAL’ scheme and also works in a retail shop. X is able to take the lead when necessary; she has also recently been promoted within the cadet group and has also been flying.
She has shown herself to be a well organised individual who meets deadlines and always sets herself high academic standards. She has the ability to research effectively and the quality of what she produces is consistently very good. motivation is reflected in an excellent attendance and punctuality record. will successfully complete a demanding programme focussing on 16 units of the BTEC National Diploma in Public Services. I can confidently predict that she will achieve distinction in several modules and merit in most of the others.
Community Sports Leader Award Successfully completed.
is honest, trustworthy and well respected. She will be an asset to any team. She will work hard to succeed and deserves a chance to study at a higher level. I would recommend her to you without reservation. NOTE It is the policy of this college to familiarise the student with the content of the reference.
Key Skills are well honed and level 3 in communication should be achieved. She definitely has potential, personal maturity and commitment to succeed at higher education
Sample UCAS Open References ...continued...
Sample Open Reference 2
Example UCAS Open Reference 3
Reference by a Head of Sixth Form, from a mixed comprehensive school.
Reference written by a course tutor from an FE college for a student studying for a BTEC National Diploma in Sports Science and applying for a degree in Sports, Coaching and Exercise Science.
Student is taking AVCE double award in travel and tourism and is applying for a degree in Business Management. is a 13-18 mixed comprehensive school, which offers a wide curriculum to all students. elected to study an advanced VCE course after his GCSEs and gap year because he felt that it would not only be an excellent foundation for a career in business, but also felt that it would develop many transferable skills, such as independent research and ICT skills. is a confident and articulate student who relates well to his peers and has a positive attitude to his studies. He is keen to learn and can demonstrate initiative in independent study and research. His year out after his GCSEs was a result of an accident. Once he recovered he undertook a period of full time employment, yet remained determined to resume his studies. AVCE Travel and Tourism Double Award: Predicted grade CD AVCE ICT Single Award: Predicted Grade C has coped well with the demands of the AVCE course and is now applying himself to his work with greater determination and commitment. His information seeking skills and ability to carry out independent research have improved greatly since the start of the course. He is confident to make contact with external organisations and can select information appropriate to the requirements of his assignments. He is very competent in using ICT, which he is able to use both to improve the presentation of his work and in relevant contexts. In addition has opted to complete an AVCE (3 unit award) in ICT. During his AVCE Course has covered modules in travel and Tourism relating to Human Resources, Marketing, Business Systems, Health and Safety, all of which will prove an excellent basis for further study and a business related career. has a good level of understanding and interprets information without error. He has excellent oral communication skills, taking an active part in class discussions and is able to form his own opinions. He mixes well with other group members and has shown good team work skills, often taking the lead role. He is very confident when presenting information to the group. His written communication is developing a mature style with greater depth. has researched his application thoroughly and has selected a course which he feels will be both challenging and exciting. He has genuine interest towards a career in business management and he definitely has a personality suited to such a career. I feel that he has the potential to pursue his chosen career very successfully, and on this basis I have no hesitation in recommending him to you most strongly. 60
has been a student at college since September 2005, currently studying his academic choice of a BTEC Sports Science Course. He came to us with a reasonable academic background and quickly settled in to the college regime. is a genuine hard worker and a conscientious student, who possesses the capacity for indepth understanding and has an awareness of what is required at this level, albeit with some help and guidance at times. He can work equally well as part of a team or rely on his own abilities, of independent thinking, development of analytical concepts and good presentation skills. His attitude to study has been very good: industrious in his approach, and addressing issues in a logical and appropriate manner and consistently meeting course deadlines. Attendance and punctuality are almost faultless. He is focussed on what he wants to achieve, is genuinely interested in the subject matter and is comfortable with the student role; course work is of a consistently good standard and we confidently predict that will attain at least merit average and may be more this academic year. He is currently undertaking study of two additional units: YMCA Fitness Instructorâ€™s course and Body Massage in accompaniment to his full time studies. We believe that he will pass these, which will only further enhance his capacities and give further reason as to why he should be an asset to your university. In character, is a real team player, with an unassuming nature, however he has maturity beyond his years, is totally reliable and confident in his abilities. He is genuinely likeable and honest and has a dry sense of humour. He is popular with both staff and students. would be an asset to which ever university he attends; he is capable and would thrive in such an environment. He would also benefit from the cultural and social opportunities that university would provide for him in addition to the learning curve which awaits him. His maturity will bode him well for university life and we fully support is application for the courses that he has chosen.
Tutor’s notes / Resource Reference: C3
UCAS Academic Reference Evaluation Sheet Student Course(s) studied
Overall Does the reference introduce the student and give a flavour of their character and their personal qualities? Does the reference back up and support the student’s personal statement? Does it comment on the student’s motivation? How does it handle predicted grades? Does it mention any personal circumstances, special needs and/or other requirements if applicable?
Summary: Personal statements
Writing academic references The academic reference is an equally important part of the UCAS application form as it backs up and complements the personal statement. The reference should give an honest account of the student’s academic ability and potential for success. As a tutor involved in progression to HE you will either complete a complete reference or a subject reference. To recap, the academic reference: • Is an open reference. Students can request to see the reference from UCAS. • Needs to back up and support the student’s application and complement their personal statement. • Needs to introduce the person – try and get the admissions tutor’s attention. • Should comment on motivation e.g. enthusiasm, depth of interest in subject, relevant experience, research. • Should contain information on predicted grades – mention any extenuating circumstances. • Should comment on the student’s personal qualities – contribution to college life, team work, initiative, responsibility for own learning, interests. • References are completed online and submitted with the student’s application form. Applications can’t be submitted to UCAS without the academic reference.
Further Information In addition to the information provided in this pack, the following resources provide further information. Resources are also given for aspects of higher education not covered in this pack. Encouraging Progression to HE www.aimhigher.ac.uk/sites/practitioner Details of activities provided by the national Aimhigher campaign to help students start thinking about HE. Also contains a range of resources and Aimhigher materials that can be downloaded or ordered. www.teachernet.gov.uk/aimhigher/tutors An excellent on line tutors resource pack Aimhigher containing a number of activities for students, addressing questions of whether higher education is for them and issues relating to entering HE. www.studentsurvivor.org.uk/2 An interactive game on student life. www.allaboutu.org.uk A virtual experience of student life. www.uni4me.co.uk Provides easy to understand information on all aspects of HE application plus links to local HEI, aimed at learners. Choosing an HE Course www.ucas.com Complete directory of full time undergraduate courses. Also provides course and institution information in the UCAS Entry Profiles as well as information on the online application system. www.hotcourses.com Information on choosing an appropriate course, with information on full time and part time courses. www.aimhigher.ac.uk Links subjects to courses and careers with an online prospectus ordering facility. www.ukcoursefinder Matches subjects, interests and skills to HE courses. Degree Course Offers, by Brian Heap, Trotman 2008 ISBN: 184455158X. Lists courses subject by subject in descending order of UCAS tariff points, foundation year and foundations degrees included.
The UCAS/Trotman Complete Guide Series. Includes UCAS offer information, career options, case studies, course characteristics, employment prospects and contact details for courses: • Art and Design Courses ISBN 085660 874 2
• Physical Sciences Courses ISBN 085660 880 7
www.uniaidinteractive.org.uk Interactive workshops linked with the National Curriculum for tutors wanting to help students with student finance.
• Business Courses ISBN: 0856608750 • Computer Science Courses, ISBN:0856608796
www.nusonline.co.uk Information on student finance and higher education.
• Health Professions ISBN: 085660 8785 • Performing Arts ISBN: 0856608793 Choosing a Higher Education Institution to
www.unofficial-guides.com Unofficial guides to universities written by students. www.guardian.co.uk/education Universityguide - information Guardian’s league tables.
www.studentfinanceengland.co.uk Information on the student finance application process for those starting higher education in 2009. www.direct.gov.uk/studentfinance Contains detailed information on student finance and support available.
• Engineering Courses, ISBN:0856608777
www.push.co.uk An alternative guide university.
www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/ education/good_university_guide Information on The Times’ university league tables. The Times Good University Guide 2009 by John O’Leary ISBN: 0007273533. This contains university league tables, how to select a university and accommodation information. The Virgin 2008 Alternative Guide to British Universities by Pier Dudgeon ISBN-10: 0753512238. Contains contributions from students offering an inside view to each institution. Writing a Personal Statement Degree Course Offers 2009 Entry by Brian Heap published by Trotman ISBN-10: 184455158X Specific advice on personal statements for each course listed
www.studentmoney.org Information on student finance, a student budget planner and a comparison of graduate salaries. www.dfes.gov.uk/studentsupport Downloadable booklets on all aspects of student funding, including information for mature students and those with disabilities. www.slc.co.uk Information on the Student Loan Company who administer student funding. www.nhs.uk/careers Information on NHS bursaries and support for students studying NHS funded courses. www.ppa.org.uk/ppa/swb.htm Information on the Social Work Bursary. www.skill.org.uk Contains a downloadable booklet on funding for HE students with a disability. www.scholarship-search.org.uk Contains a database where students can search for sponsorship and funding. www.egas-online.org.uk The Educational Grants Advisory Service is an independent agency that provides advice to those seeking funding for HE and FE. In particular they help students who cannot get statutory help with tuition fees and maintenance through student loans.
This pack has been produced by Aimhigher Greater Manchester, in conjunction with The University of Salford. For comments on its content or for further copies contact Louise Higham, IAG Project Manager, Aimhigher Greater Manchester on 0161 955 6910 or email@example.com