Lower Sixth take steps towards university

On Wednesday 17 June, the Lower Sixth took part in a Higher Education Applications Day, marking an important milestone in their education journey. Chioma, Susie and Chloe tell us about what it was like starting their UCAS applications and hearing from a recent School alumna who shared her personal insights into choosing and applying to university.

16 July 2020

On Wednesday 17 June, the Lower Sixth were off timetable to participate in the Higher Education Applications Day, a comprehensively planned day that allowed us to get to grips with writing our personal statements, filling out our UCAS applications and thinking further about university and degree choices. The day began with Miss Clark delivering a detailed talk, highlighting things to consider when choosing universities such as university location, unbiased ranking, social life, costs and university structure. She then went on to explore with us the fundamentals of an effective personal statement, and explained the ‘dos and don’ts’; this session was particularly useful as we were given the opportunity to spend some time writing a draft out for ourselves, giving us the support and confidence to tackle the piece as a whole.

Next, we had a session with the DH LINKS team who recommended that we use the new UNIMentor Programme to contact recent Downe House alumnae who could help support our university research and answer our questions. The DH LINKS team had enlisted the help of recent alumna, Ilaria Bevan (DH 2018), who talked to us about her own university experience at St Andrew’s, giving us a clearer picture of what life there could look like. The importance of following your own independent path when choosing a university and taking all the opportunities available in the first few years at university was heavily stressed. Mrs Barlow, DH LINKS Co-ordinator, explained the UNIMentor Programme:

Ilaria is one of over forty Mentor’s who joined the DH LINKS UNIMentor Programme this year as they want to inspire current girls by passing on their own unique experience, university knowledge and expertise. We are always hugely grateful to our alumnae who don’t hesitate to come back and share their advice and guidance with our current girls.

The UCAS log-in session was extremely beneficial; being in small groups with our tutors allowed us to ask questions in a more intimate setting. We were given instructions on how to log onto UCAS and fill in all the necessary details for our applications and our tutors were on hand to help with any queries.

Later in the day, we could choose between a variety of talks for Oxbridge, Creative, Overseas and Apprenticeship applicants. Dr Atherton provided an Oxbridge personal statement workshop which further emphasised the need for a personal statement to be a reflective display of one’s personal motivation to study their future course.

Overall, this was an extremely helpful day and a fantastic opportunity to properly get to expert support and guidance with our university applications. It certainly made the process seem much less daunting. We learnt many new things, and although it was quite busy and information-heavy, it was very much beneficial for us all to progress our university applications. Thank you so much to Miss Clark and the Higher Education team for organising the day.

Interview skills workshop

Poppy in Lower Sixth tells us what she learned in the Lower Sixth mock interview workshops:

We had a mock interview workshop that was held as part of the Lower Sixth Oxbridge and Medicine applications preparation. This involved subject specialists interviewing a teacher to show us what to expect. In my faculty, Mr Owen gave Dr Atherton a mock Oxbridge interview, asking questions about his Personal Statement, based on a real one written by a Downe House girl several years ago, as well as wider questions about literature in general. There were also two similar events taking place at the same time for Social Sciences and STEM.

This was a very valuable exercise to witness as it gave us an idea of what we might expect in an Oxbridge interview, something which we realised resembled a normal tutorial far more than the merciless grilling many of us had been picturing. It was useful to see the way Dr Atherton approached a question, unpicking its parameters and talking us through his thought process and how Mr Owen then used his answers to further explore the topic at hand. It was a very effective way of breaking down the interview process, putting a lot of us at ease as well as informing us as to the way in which we should conduct ourselves.

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