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Coombes Sixth Form

The UCAS process

The personal statement 

The personal statement is an extremely important component of the application.  This is because it is the student’s opportunity to explain to a university admissions  tutor why they would be a good candidate for their choice of degree course.  It is possible that a well-written and convincing personal statement could result in a student being made a better ‘offer’ than another student.  Conversely, an unconvincing statement could result in a student not receiving an offer at all.

Whilst the school works very hard to support students in writing their personal statements, ultimately, it is the student’s responsibility to complete this.  If applying for medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine or Oxford or Cambridge the personal statements can be completed and submitted to mentors by the end of the Summer term or at the start of the Autumn term at the very latest.

UCAS references 

The UCAS reference is the school’s opportunity to ‘sell’ the student to their chosen universities.  At Coombe we aim to be as positive and constructive as possible and we will work with students to ensure that we have all information to hand that could support their application.  The references are written by the students’ mentors and include information provided by their subject teachers.

Predicted grades 

Students’ predicted grades are another important part of their application.  As a school, we encourage all staff to adopt a positive and optimistic approach to agreeing grade predictions that takes into account a students’ potential development during the final year of their course.

All grade predictions are also agreed with students and are based on the Uniform Mark Scores (where they exist) that students have achieved in previous exams and take into account any potential improvement through resit exams.  Predicted grades are finalised by mid September.

It is also important that students use their predicted grades as a basis for choosing their university and courses.  Grade requirements vary widely between universities and whilst we encourage students to be aspirational in their choices, it is also important that they are realistic about their likelihood of achieving grades that will secure a place on a course at their desired university.

Communicating with parents during the process 

Please note that whilst we are happy to discuss any aspect of a student’s application during the process, we are unable to keep parents informed about the detail of every application on an on-going basis.  We advise, therefore, that parents discuss their son or daughter’s application status with them on a regular basis.

It is also important to note that UCAS regard applications as confidential between themselves and students and will not usually discuss them with parents unless they have been nominated as point of contact.

Choosing universities and courses 

Clearly, students’ choices of courses and universities will be influenced by an enormous range of factors and we will offer support and guidance at each stage of the process.  We keep a full set of UK university prospectuses in the sixth form study room, but it is worth noting that most universities’ prospectuses are available on their websites.  The on-line versions are also likely to be the most up to date.

We also recommend that students visit a number of universities during the summer term as part of the process of making their decision about where to study.  It is worth noting that many universities now offer Saturday open days and encourage parents to attend with their sons or daughters.  The full list of university open days can be found at  the Opendays.com website.  

How the school supports students in completing their UCAS application 

The remainder of the summer term and the early stages of the autumn term are devoted to working with students in a wide range of ways.  The most significant of these is the Coombe ‘Futures Planning’ module.  This programme requires students to think through a number of possible future ‘pathways’, investigating the implications, costs and career opportunities in each case.  These activities will be developed through our summer ‘Futures Planning’ Day, Active Tutorial sessions and mentor meetings, assembly presentations and so on.  At all stages, the mentors and the Head of Year will be working closely with the students.

Key school deadlines in the UCAS process at Coombe 

Please note that the school deadlines for applications are in advance of the official UCAS deadlines.  This is to allow sufficient time for Coombe Sixth Form team to check applications thoroughly, add references and to ensure that each application is of the highest possible standard before it is submitted to UCAS.

Applications for early entrants ( Medicine, Veterinary Science and Oxbridge): UCAS Deadline is 15 October 2017

Personal statement: First draft to tutor by end of Summer Term

Application completed and submitted by student: by 11th September 2017

Applications for all other entrants: UCAS deadline 15 January 2018

Application completed and submitted by student: by 30th October 2017

Please note that whilst we will still process applications received after these deadlines, we cannot guarantee to submit them by the UCAS final deadline.

Student Finance 

Student finance for higher education is subject to change each year.  Whilst we try to keep abreast of these developments as a school, it is important for students and parents to realise that it is their responsibility to understand implications of the most recent arrangements and make timely applications for funding.  Failure to do so can mean that funding is not in place for the start of a student’s course.

“How has the school helped you think about your future?

"We’re given lots of help to choose which GCSE subjects, with open evenings, careers advice and the Y12s providing their insight to the younger years. For the Y12s, UCAS days and Uni visits are all about helping us choose the next step that’s right for each of us.”