University and careers guidance at d’Overbroeck’s begins almost as soon as students start the Sixth Form. For instance, discussions on future pathways inform subject choice advice: some students know what they want to do and may need specific subjects to help them get there, others have no idea and need subjects that will keep doors open. Whatever students are planning to do after A levels, what they do during Sixth Form can make a difference, so we provide support for them to take on work experience, volunteering, extra research and reading and competitions. All of these activities help both to prepare them for the next stage and give them an extra edge in their efforts to get there.
The aim of our Higher Education & Careers Programme is simple. We run a programme of events that are designed to help students make informed choices about what they want to do at the next stage of their educational careers. We aim to ensure that such guidance is accurate, well informed, up to date and impartial. Ultimately, we seek to encourage students to fulfil their personal potential and goals.
The great majority of our Sixth Form students go on to higher education at a university and we see it as a crucial part of our responsibility to devote a great deal of time and resources to guiding and supporting students through the process of gathering information, thinking through the options, making decisions and completing the necessary applications. We are especially keen that parents should feel as well informed and as involved in this process as they wish to be and we run a series of events for them too.
Preparing for university
Our university preparation programme starts in the first term and is in full swing by the Spring Term, with talks to students and information evenings for parents. There is usually a trip to the USA College Day in London and a visit to the school from London universities such as Imperial College, UCL, King’s College and the LSE. In the summer term there is a very busy series of events, including talks from internal and external speakers on applying to university, visits to university open days and personal statement workshops.
We are lucky to have the help of a number of experts at leading universities, many of them current and ex-parents, who come in to talk to our students and parents. During the year, students have as many sessions with their Directors of Studies as they need, and these continue intensively in the winter term of the Upper Sixth where the focus of UCAS preparation becomes much more individual as students get ready to submit their applications. Although the vast majority of our students go on to study in the UK we also prepare a number of students for study in the US and other countries such as Ireland and Australia.
University open days and websites are useful sources of information, but there is nothing to beat getting that information directly from the students themselves. This is why, at the end of the first year, we invite some of our alumni back to tell our current crop about their experiences of university. Here our students get the chance to talk to them individually about their particular courses and universities.
Each year we organise a careers event for students across the school. This is an invaluable opportunity for students to discover more about career options and network with people who are leaders in their field. Many of the speakers and presenters (and there are well over 50 of them) are parents of students who are all too happy to pass on their experience and insights.