Life After Sixth Form

Helping you get that university place or career

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Personal Statement & Reference Advice

During LAMA week, as form tutors we were privileged to have a very useful session with Mike Nicholson, the senior admissions officer at Oxford University, and formerly of Essex and Newcastle universities. His talk was not specific to Oxbridge admissions, and he drew on his extensive experience and contacts across the full range of universities and colleges. 

He covered issues relevant to producing both the UCAS reference and personal statement, as well as more general advice about university applications. I took extensive notes throughout the session (see below), and rather than filtering out the material about references which is more applicable to your tutors, I think it will be useful for you to see everything to give you a better idea of how the personal statement and reference need to work together to present you in the best possible light.

One of the ways that you in 13A (or indeed others) can show that you are maturing and developing as serious candidates for higher education is to engage with this material. If there’s anything you want clarifying, just ask. If you have any questions, comments or ideas of your own, let’s see them. Don’t be afraid if you think your comment/question might be daft: universities are looking for enaged and engaging, inquisitive students, so I look forward to  seeing your own blogs fully updated with everything you have done / want to do / will be doing in support of your applications for higher education or work.


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BBC News – University ‘denied to thousands’

BBC Radio 4’s ‘Today’ programme has just carried an interview from the head of UCAS about the story reported on the BBC website (see below). It’s an increasingly competitive environment you’re in, so the more care and effort you put into making your University or job application the best it can be, the more chance you have of avoiding being one of those who will be disappointed. Lama week has given you a great head start: make sure you don’t lose that momentum as we head into the summer holidays.

16 July 2010 Last updated at 01:43

University ‘denied to thousands’

By Hannah Richardson BBC News education reporter

Graduation ceremony Competition for a degree place is likely to be tougher than ever

Tens of thousands of people are set to miss out on a university place in the UK this year after record numbers applied.

Some 660,953 applied to start full-time undergraduate courses this autumn, up 11.6% on the same point last year.

And if last year’s pattern is repeated, tens of thousands more will apply before the September deadline.

Lecturers union, the UCU, fears up to 170,000 people could be disappointed, as a cap on places is enforced.

But this is an estimate based on the number of places allocated in UK universities last year, with some additions for extra places in England.


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Let’s Get Cracking

Two years ago, I set up a blog to help coordinate all the advice for students, links to useful web pages and so on. Each student in my form also had their own blog to keep me up to date with the progress of their UCAS application, and to share with me their CV, and to work together on their personal statements.

You can see the main blog here: Some of the posts on there still contain some useful advice and information, I think.

Some students found the blogging platform we used a bit complicated, so this time I’ve decided to use ‘Posterous’ as it is dead easy. All you need to do is send an email to, and a new blog will automatically be created for you. You can then set it up to be  password protected so that your CV and Personal Statement cannot be seen by others, and you can use it to store any documents or web sites you have found useful, and keep everything together in one place that cannot be lost (unlike bits of paper or memory sticks) and that both you and I can access at any time. This will be especially useful to me when I am writing your reference as I can be sure that I have all the information I need to hand in one place.

Some of you may already have a posterous account. If that’s the case then you can just go into the ‘Manage’ page and set up a new blog specifically for this. Once you have set up your blog, please email me the link and password.