There’s always something in the press about students getting into universities.  Schools measure their success by exam results and university offers, so the more of their students that get a place at university, the better.

But there’s more to getting into your first-choice university than just applying.  If your kids are planning to go to university, you’d better be ready for some driving around the country visiting their top choices!  And there are different entry criteria, not only for each university, but for each course too.

Give your teen an edge

Number one priority is to study to get the grades they need.  Even if they have an unconditional offer, it’s wise to aim for as high a grade as possible; it will set the right expectations and won’t gain them a reputation for only doing the bare minimum.

The personal statement is important.  During their last couple of years at school they should be looking at what they can add to this.  That might be:

  • Charity work
  • Volunteering in a local community project
  • Playing team sports
  • Coaching younger kids in something
  • Doing part-time work
  • External activities like Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, Scouts, Cadets, etc.

Anything that demonstrates that they are interested in something other than school and their social life.  It gives the personal statement something extra that will make them stand out.

Teach them to communicate well.  The monosyllabic teen is a well-known figure, but if your child is asked to attend an interview at one of the universities that they really want to attend, they’ll need to be able to hold a sensible conversation.

They’ll need to be able to talk about their opinions, their reasons for choosing the university, their future plans and, of course, their chosen subject for study and why they want to study it.

Not every university holds interviews, but when they do, the students that win places are those who come across as enthusiastic, genuinely interested in their subject and can answer questions confidently.  Conversations at dinner are a great way to start preparing them for this.  As long as they feel you are listening and interested, they’ll respond.

Maybe also encourage them to practise mindfulness, or something that helps them to focus and relax.  It will be invaluable for interviews, dealing with exam nerves and reducing stress.

It’s your chance to be a positive influence and help them to make the most of this important stage of their education.