It’s fair to say that the final two years of school fly by. As many students are starting to realise, by the time you are in the second term of 6th form, you are nearly a third of the way through! Your subjects have been chosen, the work load will have definitely ramped up and the end is beginning to be in sight.
For most students, that end point is moving seamlessly onto studying at university. But in order to make that aspiration a reality, you need to be putting thought and preparation into the next stage now. Fiona Mckenzie, our Senior UK Higher Education Consultant plots out a timeline for current Year 12 students to make sure they stay on track with this all important next stage.
Your Year 12 Timeline
January – Start researching potential degree courses
With over 36,000 degrees on offer at over 300 Higher Education institutions, there is something for everyone but the choice can be overwhelming. If you are not sure where to start, sign up for student profiling – an online interest based assessment which will help identify best fit degrees and the universities that offer them.
Read more about the benefits of student profiling.
February – Start researching universities
Once you have identified a short list of potential degrees start exploring the universities that offer that particular programme. Check to see if you can combine it with another area of interest in a joint honour degree. There are some really interesting and valuable combinations on offer; think about taking International Business with a Language, or Psychology with Philosophy or Economics and International Relations or a popular combination is Law (LLB) with Business.
March – Do you want to do a year out?
This could be a year studying at a Grand Ecole such as Science Po in Paris or at a university in Hong Kong or Australia. Each UK university will have relationships with a variety of other partners across the world. Alternatively you can have a year in industry, this can be very valuable for future employment prospects as you gain hands on experience in a real world environment. Again universities will have relationships with different employers and it is important to check this out when you are doing your research.
Read more about the benefits of a ‘year in the field’.
April – Draw up a shortlist
Draw up a shortlist of universities that you would like to apply to and check their entry requirements so you can see what you are aiming for. Your Year 12 exam results will influence the predicted grades your teachers will be sending to the university with your application so it is really important to work really hard this year to get the best possible predictions.
May – Check out university open days
Actually seeing a university in person can make a huge difference to how well you will settle there when you start. Visiting will give you a first hand feel for what it will be like to be a student there and to check out things like, how far the campus is from the nearest town? How spread out is a university across a city? What are the accommodation options? All of these things will have a major impact on your time at university. It is not enough just to find a course you like, it also has to be in an environment where you will flourish.
Read more about how to make the most of an open day.
June – Finalise your shortlist
By now you should have your university shortlist down to about 6/7 choices, ready to make the final 5 when you get your predicted grades at the beginning of Year 13. Once you have chosen your subject you can make a start on your personal statement. Start thinking about why you want to know more about this area, what you are doing to show your interest in this subject and what other skill sets are you going to bring to being a university student.
July – Build up your application
This is an ideal time to be covering all the extra things that will make you a stand out student. Look into doing some work experience – this is a requirement for potential medical, veterinary and dental students but is equally valuable for all students to demonstrate an understanding of the workplace. Check out summer schools and see if there are courses that will help you develop your subject knowledge. Use this time to take an online module in something that interests you, universities from all over the world offer online courses that you can take at any time.
Read more about writing the perfect personal statement.
August – Clarify any additional entry requirements
If you are looking at Medicine you will need to take either the UKCAT or BMAT tests. If you are thinking of Law check to see which Universities require LNAT scores. If you have to take a pre-test then look into getting some test prep so you can be fully prepared. You only get to take these tests once in every application cycle so you need to get the best scores possible!
By the time you start Year 13 you should be fully prepared for making your UCAS application with a clear idea of what you want to study, a shortlist of universities that offer the course, an understanding of what the entry requirements are and any additional tests scores that you will need. Armed with all of this you will be in a strong position to get your UCAS application well ahead of the crowd and then you can get back to focusing on the real issue – getting great exam results!