Boosting chances of university acceptance - Hurstpierpoint College

Boosting chances of university acceptance

Hurst’s Head of Upper Sixth describes how a high performing Sixth Form can boost students’ chances of being accepted by their chosen university

You can sense it in the air. In hushed conversations in school car parks, in terse family phone calls and in curt WhatsApp chats. Something has changed, something big. Being accepted by universities suddenly became very hard again.

There was a brief halcyon period, between 2015 and 2020, when a demographic dip combined with the breakneck expansion of English universities, made being accepted by your chosen university something of a doddle. Sure, you had to work very hard to get good A-level grades, but those grades and a competent personal statement would probably have sufficed for almost every undergraduate application.

More competitive

Not anymore. The post-Covid chaos and a rapid uptick in the teenage population have combined to make university applications much more competitive, right across the more prestigious board. The problem is particularly acute in Scotland, where universities have not been permitted to expand at will, but the chilling effect has also spread south of the border. So, what should ambitious young people do?

Good advice

The advice at Hurst is simple. If you want to go anywhere decent, your Personal Statement needs to be good enough to go everywhere decent. Years ago, we abandoned the fallacy that only Oxbridge applicants need individual tuition, which has helped in the ramping up of expectations.

Build a portfolio

Ambitious students need to spend Year 12 building a portfolio of independent super-curricular endeavour. This includes producing an EPQ (the Extended Project Qualification), relating to their chosen field of undergraduate study. They need to investigate MOOCs (massively open online courses) which give them a taste of the teaching they can expect. Engage deeply with a broad range of reading, enough to teach them what they are not fascinated by, as well as what really lights their fire. Above all, they need to accept that while traditional co-curricular endeavour is vital for balance and personal growth, it’s not what universities are looking for. They want to know what you have sat quietly in the corner and read.

Decide early

All of which increases the competitive benefit of deciding undergraduate ambitions early. Until the application system is reformed, that’s an unavoidable fact of life. But there is an upside. If students must strive harder, for longer, to gain their university place, not only will they appreciate it more, but they are also far more likely to have chosen the right course.

It may well be tougher to get in, but perhaps that will also make it less likely they’ll drop out. That’s a change which anxious parents should be pleased to hear.

Brian Schofield, Head of Upper Sixth Form


Find out more about how Hurst College prepares students for Life after Hurst

Learn more about an EPQ (Extended Project Qualification)