Top university admissions expert, Chloe Godsell, explains why the Summer holiday could provide the perfect opportunity for students in years 10, 11 and 12 to improve their chances of getting into a top university
The impact of Coronavirus lockdown still weighs heavy on the minds of many older students and their parents. Uncertainty reigns as to whether home schooling will have had an impact on their studies and how it will affect exam results in a year or two. For those aiming to get accepted on to a competitive course like medicine, or who wish to apply to a top university such as Oxford or Cambridge, the stakes couldn’t be higher.
Despite these concerns, now is not the time to put ambitions on hold until things return to normal. On the contrary, now is the perfect time to focus on the future and spend the summer months honing the extra-curricular elements of an application that can make a candidate shine to a Russell Group or Oxbridge admissions team.
Using time wisely
With travel and socialising restrictions likely to continue throughout the summer, time can instead be filled learning new skills or helping out a local business or charity so that when admissions officers are working through a pile of applications, sorting the academic wheat from the chaff, your application stands out.
Many of the students we work with have already used their time to great effect. We had one student who partnered with a local artist to create 85 pieces of work relating to the Coronavirus and then auctioning them online. The not insubstantial proceeds went towards the local hospital.
Another student recognised early in the outbreak that there was a shortage of hand sanitiser locally, so she produced her own and donated it to low-income communities.
Other students have run online communities or newsletters about the impact of Covid-19 and have welcomed contributions from around the world so young people can better understand the impact of the virus through the eyes of others.
All these students have learnt a lot from their experiences and will stand head and shoulders above their peers to an admissions team.
Use your passion
The key with all of these examples is that the students found something they were passionate about. They used that to motivate themselves and create something that not only gave them a great deal of satisfaction, but also ensured that they learnt lessons that would never be taught in a classroom.
So, if you are thinking about brushing up on the extra-curricular elements of your CV in the next few months, what sort of things could you do from the comfort of your own bedroom?
- Get a leg up on learning
One great option is to take an online course from a university. Many are offering free courses at the moment on anything from Greek mythology to artificial intelligence. An online course is a great way to demonstrate a passion for a specific area of study.
- Parlez-vous Français?
Take time to learn a new language. The ability to speak another language is the gift that keeps on giving. It will not only strengthen your application to university, but also help when you start looking for a job at the end of the process.
- It’s all in the code
Computing is critical to almost every area of modern life, so using spare time to learn computer coding is something few are likely to regret. If you are looking to study a humanities subject, imagine the questions that would come into the mind of the university admissions team if they saw that you had also studied computer coding. They would be keen to find out why, and that’s just the sort of reaction you want. Especially if you can explain why future trends in computing will have a big impact in your area of study.
- Reach out to businesses
With the whole world working remotely right now, why not put yourself forward for a remote internship? Although many businesses will have experienced a downturn during the crisis, others have been working overtime to keep up with changing work processes or increased demand. A bit of research and a carefully scripted approach might help you land your first internship, as some of our students have done.
There are many other great ideas too such as setting up a You Tube channel about something you are interested in, creating an online club, or offering tutoring to local children who are struggling with home study.
This need not be time wasted. Find an activity you would be happy spending time on and turn it in to something that will really help you to stand out from the crowd.