The transition to Higher Education from school, whether you have been with us for seven years, only two years in the sixth form, or even all eleven years of your education so far, is inevitably both exciting and a bit daunting. Here at North London Collegiate, where 100% of our students will go on to make an application to Higher Education institutions either in this country or overseas, we are well aware that choosing the next step - while self-evident for some - can be momentous for others. This is why our experienced team of Tutors and Advisers puts so much time into preparing our students for making the right decision and why our Director of University Admissions, Mrs Katherine Hedges, tries to ensure she has a permanently open door to girls of any age who are already thinking ahead.
Direct preparation for making a university application begins in year 12 with a series of workshops and talks in the Spring Term, designed to encourage girls to focus their thoughts both on their academic aspirations, but also on the personal skills and responsibilities which will mark them out as mature, well rounded students. We encourage all our pupils to be adventurous not only in, but importantly also beyond the classroom and through their running of Senior Societies, their participation in a wide extra-curricular programme, and attending numerous events, courses and conferences outside school, students often discover where their real intellectual passions lie - and hence what they wish to study or pursue as a career beyond school.
One of our most valuable sources of advice for our current applicants is, of course, our own previous students and links with Old North Londoners who have recently graduated, or are still studying at university, are strong. Every year a Higher Education Conference is held for the benefit of Yr 12 and 13 pupils, to which ONLs in their first and second year of undergraduate study are invited. Individual contact between current students and their predecessors is facilitated wherever possible and proves invaluable and vibrant (Facebook does have its positive uses when e-mail addresses change!). Thus girls - and often staff too - are offered the most up to date and detailed advice on degree courses, university social life, what to expect at the dreaded interview, where to choose accommodation, and any number of nagging questions which only an insider can answer. We also draw on our body of ONL expertise to ensure that every student in Yr 13 is offered a Practice Interview by a relevant subject specialist in the Autumn Term, prior to university interviews.
The Development Office deals with all ONL contacts so you can also contact the Alumnae & Development Officer, Poorvi Smith, at email@example.com
In the Summer Term of Yr 12, girls must juggle the competing demands of examinations (AS levels or internal IB exams) with the need to attend university Open Days and focus on their choice of degree course. Specific meetings are held to consider Oxbridge Applications, Applying to University in the USA and Applying Through UCAS. Parents are invited to an evening-long plenary meeting prior to an entire UCAS Day for the girls, where an outside speaker from a leading UK university will offer an insight into what Admissions Tutors are looking for and where a number of talks and workshops with their own personal Tutor enable pupils to begin completing their Personal Statement.
Individual advice and discussion is frequently the key to arriving at the right decisions and to assembling a convincing application, so each year 12 student will attend at least one individual discussion meeting with an appropriate Adviser, followed by aTutor-Parent evening focussing on Higher Education Applications at the end of the Summer Term.
For some, everything will fall easily into place; for others, this may be the first of many sessions until everyone feels confident that the right way forward has been found. Some students eventually prefer to put off their university application until all their Yr 13 examinations are out of the way and we are delighted to support post-qualification Applicants taking a Gap Year just as we do those who are still with us.
Of course applying to university does not come out of the blue and we believe that a stimulating curriculum, lots of opportunities for self-development and impassioned teaching are the inspiration for many. Meanwhile, our programme of Careers Guidance,commencing in year 9, ensures that pupils are familiar with both our main Careers Library and our Higher Education Library and are equipped with both the research and decision-making skills they will require to make their choices take them wherever they wish to go.