Tag Archives: Oxbridge

Careers and routes, usual and unusual, in a difficult time

This point in the year, where A-level students are often finalising university applications, tends to result in a range of repeat articles about what employers want from graduates. Worth a glance, therefore, at that old chestnut in the Telegraph’s latest incarnation of the article.

A more stimulating and interesting take on how keen people are to impress employers comes in the form of this Craigslist experiment. Be careful with your data! But the point remains that applications for jobs vastly, vastly outweigh the number of places available. As school students you’re used to teachers making space in the group for you, welcoming you no matter what, creating opportunities for you. A brutal reality check about how the world won’t help you out is something you need to be braced for. It’s a jungle out there.

If you want more evidence of how bleak the economic picture in the west is, and how hard it is to get (and keep) a job, check out these depressing articles: new graduates are taking jobs for substantially lower pay than those a few years ago, and people are going to work despite being seriously ill in some cases, so desperate are they to avoid giving a bad impression. (Ironically, it can be counter-productive to do this. Having ill workers or students can actually reduce performance in some circumstances by infecting others! But this is a measure of employee fear in some firms.)

All is not misery. Here’s an interesting video on how to get a job at Dyson, one of the UK’s most innovative employers; an article explaining that degrees are not the only route to success; and an interesting article about getting girls into science – why do people think you have to advertise in lipstick to get girls’ attention? And remember just how wide a range of people can achieve success in any field, and how hard teachers work to support you if you’ll help yourself: I recognise this myself from the crazy, and valuable, process of supporting DBS’s own Oxbridge applicants over the past month. 

Read this stuff well and get a deeper sense of the jobs market and your careers future. Use ISCO if you’re a member, make best use of PSHE careers activities, and book and effectively use your meetings with careers staff. Use the excellent Prospect site too. Because bad careers advice ruins your future. You get good advice and support here – just make sure you follow and use it.

High-grade challenges: know the field

If you’re considering any of the really super-competitive routes in Higher Education – say, any course at Oxbridge or any top Law course – take a look at the following useful articles:

  • turns out the secret of getting into law is not specific legal knowledge but the power of your critical thinking and ability to apply it to new material
  • getting into Oxbridge still looks a bit loaded against you if you’re from state schools in the UK, no matter how bright you are – justifiable or not (I think it’s not and there is bias in the system) you need to learn to play this by interviewing well

Bear in mind that AAA is the minimum for either of these routes and A*AA is now the common offer. Come talk to me if either of these routes are of interest to you.

Oxbridge and Ivy League success!

Two significant firsts for DBS this month: for the first time we’ve got year 13 students into Oxbridge and Ivy League universities. Congratulations to Charlotte Ryan, off to study Land Economy at Cambridge (Newnham College) and Head Boy Michael Ayad, destined for Johns Hopkins to study Pre-med. Both had tough interviews in which they would have had to excel – for the first year this year we were able to provide in-depth interview training beforehand, a development we intend to continue in future years. In fact, for current year 12 and 11s we’re already planning a longer-running preparation programme so that our most able students have Oxbridge and Ivy League universities in their sights from much sooner, and thus are able to prepare better.

It’s difficult to over-emphasise how few students get into these extremely elite universities and how effective the preparation may be – so if you’re a very able student as young as year 9, or a parent of such a student, feel free to make contact and ask about how to get on this path to success.

We’ve also not had students go on to Medicine courses at other prestigious UK universities before, but have a number of applications currently awaiting outcomes of interviews or application this year – again, careful preparation, close support by relevant subject and pastoral staff and interview training has been provided in full. We hope to have yet more positive news to report in this area very soon!

Careers interviews for year 13

Not many folks will realise this but a number of our most able year 13s have been doing mock interviews in preparation for the real university interviews for the most highly competitive subjects – medicine, Oxbridge, Ivy League.

I thought we’d open a comment box here about the process so that if anyone has anything to say it could be shared. If you’re either a professional with a role in interviewing and recruitment (whether or not you were able to take part as a panellist in our mock interviews), or a parent who went through these type of interviews yourself and can recollect the experience to comment on it, or most of all if you’re one of the students who’ve been through our seminars and mock interviews – please leave a comment reply below sharing your thoughts about this process and how students in the future need to best prepare for it.