Enrolment Day


SouthbankSo college year 2 enrolment day arrived, and filled with trepidation my daughter headed off for her morning appointment.  Except she only just made it on time, having slept through her alarm.  Hope this isn’t a sign of things to come!

But we needn’t have been overly concerned.  After the previous dire warnings prior to results day, and the worry that the results weren’t even good enough to qualify for the second year of college, we were all pleasantly surprised.  No more so than my daughter, who, if I’m honest, is not prone to fits of excitement and happiness.  But on this occasion she was both of those things.

We knew the Maths should be OK, having achieved a B grade in her AS level.  And the good news is, her tutor has agreed to enrol her into a Further Maths AS course, which, with any luck, should boost her chances of a university place when the time comes.  On top of that, her Chemistry and Psychology grades, though not great at D and E respectively, were good enough to qualify for the next stage.

And there was more good news.  Having thought she had failed her 1 year BTEC in Music Production because of one dodgy module, she actually learned that she had passed with a Merit.  And the icing on the cake was that she managed to choose her timetable to wangle a couple of afternoons off.  No wonder she was so happy!

But with the excitement comes a few hard truths and the reminder that she has just one year of hard work to turn things round and give herself the chance of improving her grades that will allow her a wider range of choices when it comes to choosing  a university. We are busy attempting to scrape together UCAS points from wherever we can find them, although we can find no trace of the BTEC course so not sure whether that will count towards anything!

A few more university open days have been booked for the coming weeks, and the challenge to get her to one she has chosen rather than one that will accept her grades continues.


And the results are in….

University of Portsmouth

University of Portsmouth

On 15 August 2013, many A levels students received their results.  They are now accepting their offers of university places, or joining the mad scramble that is Clearing.

For my 17 year old daughter it was the day we received her AS results, and with it the predicted grades that a future offer of a university place will be based on.  During this past year there have been a few exam slip ups, notably the time when a modular exam went so badly wrong that it resulted in a U grade!  But thankfully she was offered the opportunity of a retake.  In the run up to Results Day, and since the end of her exams, she has been pre-warning us not to expect too much.  At one point we were even warned to prepare for the possibility that she might not even achieve sufficient grades to enroll into the second year!

When the fateful day arrived, after a nervous struggle logging into the college email system, I left her on her own to get that first glance at her future!  Called in a few moments later, there it was, B, D, E.  (She’s only studying three ‘proper’ A levels, the fourth subject was a one year BTEC in music.)  Thankfully the higher graded subject, Maths, is her chosen university subject.

So, not the results to set the academic world on fire, but the first thing to say is that she should, with any luck, be able to enroll into the second year of college.  And on that basis, the results aren’t as bad as they could have been.  Having visited two potential universities a few weeks ago (see past blog post), it is useful to gauge her realistic expectations about possible offers for this time next year.  If universities use the AS grades as an indicator of predicted grades, then it’s highly unlikely that an offer of a place at Oxford Brookes is on the cards.  Portsmouth may be achievable but she will need to work hard to improve her grades, and probably convince her college tutors that she can do it.  So perhaps we are setting our sights far too high for her, even with these modest universities (with no disrespect to their status in the university rankings).

The dilemma for us now as parents is do we continue to invest our time in the round of university visits in the possible knowledge that she won’t even get a sniff?  And, to be honest, my daughter doesn’t seem to be the slightest bit concerned about the modest grades or what university she would like to study at, she is a teenage after all!  But at least she does know that she wants to go to university, or is it that she desperately wants to move away from home!

There will be a few searching questions and phone calls to the college and universities over the next few days.  Over to Dad…….

The university challenge




My 17 year old daughter is currently attending Richmond-upon-Thames College in Twickenham, where she is studying A levels in Maths, Chemistry and Psychology.  As we wait nervously for her AS (1st year) results in August, we have begun the university trail, or more to the point, university trial!

A few weeks ago we headed to Oxford for our first recce, and before we all get excited, it was actually Oxford Brookes, not the well known university where the clever kids go!  But in saying that I’m probably doing Oxford Brookes a bit of a disservice.  Actually we were very impressed, the main Headington Campus has seen the benefit of a multi-million pound investment program and the facilities and soon-be-opened buildings were fantastic.  My daughter is looking to study straight Mathematics for her degree and, although a bit of a bus ride away, the facilites at Wheatley were of a similar high quality.  We also liked the idea of a small town, very much geared up to student life, and not too far away from home.  The place certainly set the benchmark.

Last weekend we drove a similar distance to Portsmouth University, on what has been the hottest day of the year so far.  The maths course seemed pretty much the same as that offered at Oxford Brookes, and the results being achieved equally good, despite having a less stringent entry requirement (260 points as opposed to 3 Bs at Oxford Brookes).  Clearly, the buildings hadn’t benefited from a large financial boost, but there were obvious signs of improving facilities, after all, students are paying customers now, not just student numbers. (Fess are currently approximately £9k a year)

The place has a peculiar layout though, the various buildings are pretty close together in Portsmouth’s university quarter, but they aren’t enclosed in a traditional campus arrangement.  My daughter felt a bit unsure about the layout, probably feeling that a campus set up would be a safer environment for her.   We could see her point, but assured her that after a short while she would probably be getting out and about as much as possible anyway.  Which, considering both the city and the sea are just a few minutes walk away, Portsmouth is looking like giving Oxford Brookes a run for its money!

So we finished our tour of the facilities, accommodation and the student union, and headed to the Gunwharf Quays, just a few minutes walk away at Portsmouth Harbour and its famous Spinnaker Tower, for a bit of a break before heading home.  Well, OMG! What a fabulous place!  Gorgeous shops, cafes, bars, the sea, marina, and a student favourite nightclub as well, apparently!  You can even get an ice cream and watch the boats go by (see photo)!  What more could a student (and her parents!) ask for?  We’re already booking in to the Holiday Inn Express for when we visit!

But…coming back down to earth, we still have a few more places to visit.  Next we are heading t’up north to Nottingham and Sheffield, but they will come after we know the AS results, due on 15 August, so they might alter the expectations somewhat, higher or lower.  Our fingers are crossed for her.

Interesting times, but important to get a feel for a place, because she will spend three years of her life there.