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Monday, 8 December 2014

Choosing Between Sixth Form and College

sixth form versus college

In the previous article I talked about the perils of marketing hype in relation to career decisions.  Much of the "information" that is put before young people is actually advertising in support of a particular post-school option.

This may not be that obvious on a superficial glance and it is important that our kids develop an awareness of the extent to which "careers information" is seeking to steer them towards a particular choice (staying on in the Sixth Form or applying to local FE colleges, for example) rather than setting out all the options in a fair and balanced way.

Saturday, 6 December 2014

What does a Town Planner do?

Town Planner

Town planners are involved in shaping our towns, cities and rural areas. They prepare long-term plans, make proposals for new developments and examine the proposals of others.

The work of a town planner may include:
  • visiting sites to assess the effects of developments
  • collecting information and writing reports
  • analysing data and preparing policies
  • advising councillors and other decision-makers
  • negotiating between groups with different interests

What does a Radiographer do?

diagnostic radiographer or therapeutic radiographer

There are two types of radiographer. Diagnostic radiographers deal with patients with a variety of injuries and illnesses. They assess patients' needs before using a range of sophisticated equipment to produce images to diagnose the injury or disease.

Therapeutic radiographers plan and deliver programmes of radiation treatment to cancer patients. They explain and agree treatments with patients, their relatives and carers, as well as monitoring progress throughout the treatment.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

What if I get a D or E grade in Core GCSE Subjects?

What if I get poor grades in Core GCSE Subjects?

Some young people might not ask that question but their parents probably will!

What does “core subject” mean?

This is one of those questions where it depends who you ask. The basic idea is that there are certain subjects that are so important that they are compulsory for all students. Officially, the core subjects are English, Maths and Science. In many schools the list will be broadened to include History, Geography and a language.

Changes to A Levels and AS Levels from 2015

changes to A levels and AS levels

The government and Ofqual have announced major changes to A levels and AS levels in England mostly beginning in September 2015.

The key changes to A levels:

  • Since 2014, there has no longer been a January assessment window. This change applies to current A levels as well as the new ones starting in 2015.
  • A levels will be fully linear, with students sitting their exams at the end of the two-year course.
  • AS levels will be stand-alone qualifications and will no longer contribute to an A level grade. Their purpose will be to encourage curriculum breadth and they will remain broadly at their current standard.
  • It may be that in some subjects it will be appropriate for the AS level to be designed to be co-taught with the first year of the A level.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

UCAS personal statement advice

Expert advice and tips on writing  the UCAS Personal Statement

A group of careers advisers and admissions tutors were asked for their key tips for writing the personal statement. This is what they said:

“ urge BTEC students to be very specific about their non-core units and grades. Some universities will differentiate between candidates who have done specific units.”

“ Use the ABC approach:

A - Activity - what you did
B - Benefit - how has this benefited you - e.g. relevant skills gained (communication, organisation, responsible, teamwork, etc...)
C - Course - relating back to the course you're applying to.”

“ Find clues from the course outlines on institution websites and on sites such as UCAS.”

Friday, 10 October 2014

What do Ecologists do?

Career Guidance

Ecologists study the complex and delicate relationships between animals, plants, people and their physical surroundings, commonly referred to as an ecosystem or the environment.

They carry out a wide range of tasks relating to their specialist area of knowledge, for example freshwater ecology, marine mammals, birds, fauna or flora.

This job role is diverse and is dependent on the employer and the nature of the work. It can include:

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

UK Labour Market: Graduates in non-graduate roles

In 2013 the Office for National Statistics published its report 'Graduates in the UK Labour
Market 2013'.  This post summarises some of the key points from that report.

In April to June 2013 there were 31 million people in the UK not enrolled on any educational course who were either men aged between 21 and 64 or women aged between 21 and 59.

12 million of these people were graduates, meaning they held a qualification above A level standard.
The percentage of graduates in the population has risen from 17% in 1992 to 38% in 2013.

In 2013 graduates were more likely to be employed, less likely to be searching for work and less likely to be out of the labour force (inactive) than those people with lower qualifications or no qualifications.

However the percentage of graduates working in non-graduate roles has risen, particularly since the 2008/09 recession. This suggests the increasing supply of graduates and the possible decrease in demand for them has had an effect on the type of job they are doing.

Some Key Facts

  • In 2013 there were 12 million graduates in the UK.
  • Steady increase in the number of graduates in the UK over the past decade.
  • In April to June 2013 graduates were more likely to be employed than those who left education with qualifications of a lower standard.
  • Non-graduates aged 21 to 30 have consistently higher unemployment rates than all other groups.
  • Non-graduates aged 21 to 30 have much higher inactivity rates than recent graduates.
  • Over 40% of graduates worked in the public administration, education and health industry.
  • Graduates were more likely to work in high skilled posts than non-graduates.
  • Annual earnings for graduates reached a higher peak at a later age than the annual earnings for non-graduates.
  • In 2013 those graduates that had an undergraduate degree in medicine or dentistry were the most likely to be employed and had the highest average gross annual pay.
  • Graduates from the top UK universities earned more than graduates from other UK universities.
  • Male graduates were more likely to have a high or upper middle skill job than female graduates.
  • Six in every ten people who lived in Inner London were graduates.

Monday, 22 September 2014

What to do after leaving school

 school leaver programmes and apprenticeships
Pictured: Brathay Apprentice Challenge winners, Team Pepsi

With nearly half a million students starting an undergraduate degree each year, university can often seem the only option for a school leaver. However, rising tuition fees, expensive living costs and an increasingly saturated graduate market, it’s worth considering an alternative to the traditional degree route. This is where school leaver programmes and apprenticeships really come into their own. If you don’t want to go straight into a job, such schemes allow young people to combine qualifications with employment. This means that they can earn money whilst gaining valuable skills and experience, greatly improving their career prospects.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Careers in Science and Technology (STEM)

Careers in Science and Technology

If a young person is interested in science or technology then they need to know about Future Morph. The site has been designed to show young people that science and maths related subjects (STEM subjects) can equip them with the skills and knowledge they need to make them employable in the future job market, whether they become scientists or engineers, or move into other areas of employment.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Government Funded Volunteering Overseas with ICS

Volunteering Overseas with ICS

International Citizen Service (ICS) is a once-in-a-lifetime volunteering opportunity open to all 18 to 25-year-olds, backed by the UK government.

It gives you the chance to work side-by-side with local volunteers in developing countries, to make a meaningful contribution to fighting poverty, and to gain valuable skills that will stay with you long after the 12-week placement is complete.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Nurture High Effectiveness in Your Teenager

supporting your teenage child in making crucial life decisions

For teenagers life can often feel like finding their path through a jungle.  And it’s no walk in the park for the parents of teenagers either.

In his book, 'The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens', author Sean Covey attempts to provide "a compass to help teens and their parents navigate the problems they encounter daily."

How to handle peer pressure? Maintain motivation?  Deal with success and failure? The life of a teenager is full of tough issues and life-changing decisions. As a parent, you want to help them learn the habits, principles and ethics that will help them attain their goals and live a happy, successful life.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

What do Clinical Psychologists do?

Clinical Psychologist

Clinical psychologists aim to reduce psychological distress and enhance and promote psychological wellbeing. They work with people who have a wide range of problems including anxiety, depression, addictive or behavioural disorders, relationship problems, child and family problems, learning disabilities or serious mental illness. They aim to help clients to cope with their problems and to make positive changes.

A clinical psychologist will start work with a client by assessing the individual to define their difficulties. The psychologist may do this through:

  • discussion with the client
  • observing the client's behaviour
  • using a range of psychometric tests.

The psychologist and client then agree a programme of individually-tailored intervention or treatment. This can include:

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Careers Advice for Parents ~ Partner Organisations

Career Planning Advice for Parents

Organisations That Recommend This Site to Parents

Access Southampton

Alderman Peel High School, Wells next the Sea, Norfolk

Al Yasmina School, Abu Dhabi, UAE

Allerton Grange High School, Leeds, West Yorkshire

Allerton High School, Leeds, West Yorkshire

Apprenticeship Ambassador Network

Ark William Parker Academy, Hastings, East Sussex

Armthorpe Academy, Doncaster

Bishop Walsh Catholic School, Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham

Bloxham School, Oxfordshire

Bodmin College

Boroughbridge High School, Boroughbridge, Yorkshire

Bradford Council

Caedmon College, Whitby, North Yorkshire

The Campion School, Hornchurch, Essex

Canon Slade School, Bolton

Career Comp@nion (careers website)

Careers Guidance and Training Limited

Career Nav Guidance Services (careers website)

CareersInc, Doncaster

The Career Development Institute

Monday, 14 July 2014

New Approach to SEN from September 2014

The government have introduced major changes to the provision of support for young people with special educational needs (SEN).  The new arrangements will be phased in from this September.  These include a new Code of Practice for SEN to replace the previous (2001) code.

The main changes from the previous code of practice reflect the changes introduced by the Children and Families Act 2014. These are:

Friday, 11 July 2014

Young Unemployed Would Overflow Wembley

Youth Unemployment ; young unemployed ; NEET

A press release was issued by the UK government on 4 July 2014 under the heading “New statistics show thousands more 16- and 17-year-olds embarking on apprenticeships than last year.”

The tone of the document is upbeat and positive:

The figures, collected from local authorities, reveal that in March this year compared to March 2013:
• more than 15% more 16- and 17-year-olds are in apprenticeships - up from 41,738 last year to 49,228 this year
• 27,832 more 16- and 17-year-olds are participating in education or training - up from 1,030,689 last year to 1,058,521 this year
• 8 out of 9 regions in England reported higher rates of young people in education or training compared to last year

Here are some findings of my own from the data that should give rise to concern:

Thursday, 10 July 2014

how to get online careers advice

careers advice online ; careers advice forum

For young people in England there are two main places you can go to get expert advice online.

  • the Not Going To Uni (NGTU) web site provides an online Advice Centre.  Parents are also welcome to use this service.
  • the National Careers Service offers web chat, email and an online forum.  If you are 19 or over you can also request a face to face discussion with an adviser.

Monday, 7 July 2014

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Generic Skills Checklist

employability skills are important to employers

Although qualifications are important in getting a job, employers also want to recruit young people who have employability skills such as communication skills, problem solving, creativity, honesty and integrity, being punctual, taking responsibility, team working, being self motivated and having a good work attitude.

Young people can improve their chances of impressing employers by being clear about the skills they have to offer. It’s up to you to confidently list and describe your skills during the various stages of the recruitment process.

Don’t expect the employer to figure out your skills from the job history on your CV. It’s important to highlight your skills list and to ensure there is a reasonable match between what you are offering the employer and the requirements of the job you are going for.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Understanding Accountancy Qualifications

If you are considering a career in accountancy it can be  confusing that there are various qualifications and professional bodies vying for your attention. All the accountancy qualifications cover some of the same subject matter (accountancy strangely enough!) but there are some subtle differences that can make all the difference to your longer term career path. The four main qualifications are outlined below.

                                         The AAT Accounting Qualification

Association of Accounting Technicians AAT ApprenticeshipAAT stands for Association of Accounting Technicians.  This is an entry level qualification ideal for those just starting out in accountancy (perhaps through an apprenticeship) or school leavers without or with low A level grades. Or you might have been working in an accountancy role for several years but don't have any formal training and are looking to obtain the qualification to give your career prospects a boost. If you are aged 16-24 and not in full time education you might be eligible for government funding to support your studies under the Accountancy Apprenticeship scheme.

Monday, 23 June 2014

young people need soft skills

young people need soft generic skills

Young people should play up their personal strengths and interests when applying for work, according to new research.

A survey of more than 900 managers conducted recently by ICM Research for the Brathay Trust found that  nearly two fifths (38%) want young people to highlight their personal achievements and work experience in job applications.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Different kinds of work experience

work experience placements and internships

Work Placements

The term ‘placement’ refers to any formal, structured work experience.  These programmes will often let you to gain knowledge of various departments and focus on a specific project.  Placements are quite common in the engineering and construction sectors.  Doing one can help you get your foot in the door as many companies recruit from work experience placements.  There are sometimes payments  although you will need to discuss with your company beforehand whether you will be paid and if so how much.

Working on a project will provide you with an opportunity to practice skills that you can use as evidence of your work readiness in future applications and interviews.  It is a good idea to keep a record of the project and your contribution to it so you don’t forget what happened.

The difference between Internships and Apprenticeships


  • Apprenticeships have traditionally been associated with blue-collar industries such as engineering and construction. This has changed in recent years and apprenticeships in professional services (like banking,  IT,  accountancy and law) are now common.
  • Apprenticeships are are a type of formal training which usually lasts for up to two years,  sometimes even longer.  They are overseen by the government.
  • Apprentices gain a qualification at the end of it (NVQ, BTEC etc.)

Thursday, 19 June 2014

London’s tech sector is taking on almost 2,000 new apprentices

London IT Apprenticeships

As part of London Technology Week, companies like Capgemini, British Airways, IBM and  Virgin Media,  have announced that they will take on up to 200 apprentices each.

Microsoft has pledged to involve its entire supply chain and committed to hiring more than 1,200 new apprentices itself and among companies with which it trades.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Top Tips on choosing science subjects

subject choice effect on future career

The Science Council has published this very sensible advice to help with choosing subjects.  Among the ideas are:
  • Visiting to see where your child’s subject choices could take them. Get them to have a go at the ‘What Might You Be?’ game.
  • Encouraging your child to talk to people they know (family, friends and neighbours) about their subject choices and career paths.
  • Encouraging your child to talk to teachers of the subjects they are interested in to get a feel for what the course content will be for particular subjects, particularly at A level standard. Teachers may also be able to advise on resources and sources of information out about Maths and Science related careers.
  • They might enjoy going to talks and events held by local societies or museums and galleries or  the big annual science festivals like the British Science Festival and The Big Bang Fair. Also, events throughout the UK during National Science & Engineering week.
  • Ensuring your child is making the most of the careers room at school, alongside other school resources, the web, and local library. Useful web sites include:

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Applying to US Universities – Advice from Fulbright

Check out USA College Day

This free event provides students, parents and advisors with the unique opportunity to meet representatives from over 150 American universities and educational service providers in London. It is the largest US university fair in the UK.

Date: Friday, 26 September 2014 (4:30 pm - 7:30 pm) & Saturday, 27 September 2014 (10:30 am - 3:30 pm)

Venue: Kensington Town Hall, Hornton Street, London W8 7NX (Map)

Cost: Free to attend if you register in advance

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Apprenticeship Applications - top tips

Apprenticeship Applications

One of the best (but not the only) places to find and apply online for apprenticeships is through the official (government sponsored) 'Find an Apprenticeship' service at

Having registered a user account (you need a valid email address) you can manage multiple applications through the portal with a minimum of fuss. Below are some top tips to ensure a trouble-free experience:

 Use your personal email address >>
 Use your own email address rather than your school one to ensure you have continued access to messages.

 Don't register twice >> 
Try not to create more than one account as you may not remember several usernames and passwords. Having several accounts would make it difficult for you to manage your job applications.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Leading international law firm Withers to recruit four legal apprentices

legal apprentices ; legal apprenticeships

City law firm Withers LLP is to recruit four school leavers for its newly launched apprenticeship scheme. The apprentices will be based in their real estate, employment and litigation departments and will undertake the CILEx Level 3 Advanced Apprenticeship in Legal Services.

The Advanced Apprenticeship is part of an apprenticeship 'framework' which is being developed to take school leavers right through to qualification as a lawyer. Withers is one of the firms leading the new government Trailblazer initiative for paralegals, Chartered Legal Executives and Solicitors.

How to Find an Apprenticeship

Finding Apprenticeships; Careers Advice ; Finding an Apprenticeship

Apprenticeships are offered by a wide range of employers and you'll find them advertised on the Government's official Find an Apprenticeship website, other sites and sometimes in local newspapers and through local colleges and training providers. Finding an apprenticeship can be a slightly confusing business until you get familiar with the different search techniques.  This article will provide you with all the necessary tips and tricks to make tracking down that elusive apprenticeship a much more enjoyable experience!

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Ten Ways Parents Can Help With Career Planning

careers advice and guidance for school leavers, college students, sixth formers

As they make choices and plans for the future, young people need support from the people who know them best - their families. There are many ways that parents can provide help and encouragement.

Here are my top ten tips:
  1. Talk to your daughter/son about careers they are interested in. Find out what they know already and encourage them to visit the school careers library to find out more.  Encourage your child to talk to you about your own career and the decisions you had to face. They could also talk with the rest of the family, friends and neighbours, and with their teachers.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Parents Guide to UCAS

advice for parents about university entrance and UCAS

Music, dance and drama

Many HE institutions offer music, dance and drama courses via the standard UCAS system.  For some specialist dance and drama courses you apply directly to the institution. For courses at a conservatoire, you apply via CUKAS.

Art and Design

Most students who study A-levels, rather than a vocational art course, usually choose to take a preparatory one year Art Foundation course at a local college before going on a degree course.

Foundation courses offer an opportunity to try out different techniques and methods before deciding what to do at university. You apply directly to the college for these courses.

Applying to University: a Guide Timetable

PLEASE NOTE: the list below is intended to give a general indication of timings – please ensure you CHECK WITH UCAS for exact dates.

Year 12 Spring onwards:
Research and make choices about universities and courses – open days and HE fairs/conventions usually take place between March and September/early October. Visit universities and university cities/towns.

Summer holidays:
Students should start thinking about their personal statement.

Year 13 Autumn term:

UCAS applications open around mid-September.

Deadline for applications to most UKconservatoire coursesviaCUKAS
(Conservatories Admission Service UK). This is a separate application system for certain music, dance and drama courses.

Deadline for UCAS applications for:Cambridge or Oxford; and
 medicine, dentistry or veterinary science/medicine in any university.


Deadline for all other UCAS applications(except some art and design courses which may be later – again, please check). Applications are accepted after this date but are marked as ‘late’.


UCAS Extraopens, for students with no offers (see left).

Student finance -Students should apply for student finance at They don’t need a confirmed place so should just use their first choice of course and can always update this later if necessary.


Decision time - Students receive offers from universities and colleges via UCAS. STUDENTS MUST CHECK THE DEADLINE TO RESPOND TO OFFERS OR UCAS WILL DECLINE ON THEIR BEHALF.

Late applications UCAS will send late applications to chosen universities and colleges until Clearing opens but institutions will only consider applications if they still have vacancies.

Results time, Clearing and Adjustment (see more, left)
BTEC and International Baccalaureate results. Students taking these qualifications do not have to wait until the August Clearing process to confirm their place or check for vacancies.


Scottish Highers results – and the start of the Scottish Clearing vacancy search.

A-level and Advanced Diploma results – and the start of the full Clearing vacancy search.

UCAS Adjustment opens for registration.


The Clearing vacancy search closes toward the end of September.  Clearing applications can still be made, but contact unis and colleges direct to discuss vacancies first.

Increasing students’ options

For both Extra and Clearing students may increase their options by considering joint or combined degrees covering two or more subjects.

Students who want to enter Clearing should ensure they’re in the UCAS system before results time. Otherwise, while they are writing and submitting their application they may miss out on places to people already in the system.


The benefits of a university education are well understood: a lifetime of (potentially) enhanced earnings with entry into a wide range of professions; the intellectual stimulation; the development of advanced thinking,  analytical and communication skills; the chance to spread your wings.

What isn’t so well understood is how to get there. Many parents with children at school today have not experienced higher education. Even if they have, the application process has changed dramatically with online application and unprecedented levels of choice.

Researching options

The process of university application starts quite early in Year 13, so students need to have a good idea of what they want to study and where by the end of Year 12.

Most students select their course to fit their career choice (if known) or the subject(s) they enjoyed at school. For the undecided, UK Coursefinder has a short online questionnaire that aims to match students’ interests, abilities and skills to courses.

Many schools arrange for sixth-formers to attend free higher education fairs, where universities answer questions and hand out prospectuses. If your child’s school doesn’t, you can usually turn up on the day.

Applications and UCAS

All applications to UK universities for full-time courses are made through UCAS, the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service.

It is not just universities that provide degree (and HND) courses. Many colleges also offer higher education and you apply for these via UCAS too.

UCAS applications are made online, using a system called ‘Apply’ (see below).

Students who want to study part-time courses need to contact colleges or universities individually to find out how to apply.

Taking a gap year

Students wishing to take a gap year can apply for a deferred place (subject to university agreement) but still have to meet the deadlines for the year in which they apply.

Writing a personal statement

The trickiest part of the application process is the personal statement, where students get to sell themselves to the university. Most candidates won’t be interviewed so, apart from exam results and a short reference, the personal statement is the institution’s main chance to assess the student’s suitability and enthusiasm for their course(plus their ability to spell!). Writing a personal statement can be pretty daunting, so be prepared to provide advice and moral support. It’s worth starting early, jotting down ideas and writing a first draft during the summer holidays.

Using UCAS Apply

Students usually need to register for Apply via their school or college, although some are more on the ball than others so it pays to double check. They can apply for up to five courses. If they choose fewer, they can add extra ones later. There is no order of preference and universities are not told which other institutions the student has applied to.

Entry requirements for most courses depend on applicants’ exam results.

 Most take A-levels but 49 types of qualification are officially recognised by UCAS, including BTEC, Scottish highers and the International Baccalaureate. UCAS Apply lists details of all the courses available, including entry requirements.

Entry requirements  and UCAS Tariff points

Different courses and institutions have different entry requirements.

Each grade of each qualification earns students a defined number of UCAS Tariff points (for A-level it’s 120 points for an A, 100 for a B and so on). Universities usually demand either a total number of Tariff points or minimum A-level grades (for example, ABB).

Read the notes carefully

as there may be restrictions, such as: points must be earned from only three A-levels; General Studies doesn’t count; or students must have at least a B in Maths. Schools tell students their predicted grades, but it still makes sense to choose one or two back-up universities, or courses whose requirements are less stringent.

Submission timings

UCAS applications open in September. The deadline for Oxbridge universities and certain courses is in the autumn term, but the deadline for most courses is in January.

Many schools and colleges will encourage students to apply well before the deadline for good reason, with early November a common school/college deadline.

This allows the school to add things such as references, and check personal statements and choices.  Although universities are obliged to consider all applications received by the deadline, many start making offers in the autumn.

Understanding offers and making firm and insurance choices

Students don’t have to do anything until all their university choices have responded. UCAS will then prompt the student to make their decision by a set deadline.
Unconditional offers are simple. Accept one and you’re in. But if a student’s first choice is a conditional offer, they can also accept a second choice if they wish (usually conditional on lower grades). All other offers are formally declined and cannot be reinstated later.

UCAS calls the first choice firm and the second choice insurance. Note that students can’t choose between their firm and insurance offers once they get their results: if their firm choice accepts them, they cannot plump for the insurance choice instead.

Although universities must issue an offer or rejection by early May,  many do so much sooner. Students who have already got A-levels (or equivalent) will receive unconditional offers, but for the rest any offer will be conditional on academic success.

Conditional offers may ask for a set number of UCAS Tariff points, or exact grades in specific subjects (or even modules). Study the offer carefully, as it may not entirely match what you read in the course prospectus. A minority of courses also invite candidates for an interview.

UCAS Extra Students with no offers can apply for another course that has vacancies, via the UCAS Extra service. If rejected, they then apply to another, and so on.

Results time It’s vital that students are at home at results time. Most exam results (including A-levels) are sent direct to UCAS, which automatically notifies universities. If the student gets the grades required by their firm or insurance choice, that’s the job done (unless they want to make use of Adjustment – see below).  If they have just missed the required grades, they might still be offered  a place, although this is by no means certain.


Clearing is the time when any empty places are up for grabs, and generally runs from the end of June to mid-September. For Scottish universities, peak time is early August when Higher results are published. In the rest of the UK, it maxes out a couple of weeks later when A-level results are issued and thousands of spaces are freed up by applicants not making the grade, or not taking up insurance offers. Generally, it operates on a first come, first served basis, but most universities still want the best applicants and won’t compromise on grade requirements.

Students without a confirmed place automatically go into Clearing, which tries to match them with courses that still have vacancies. Course availability is shown on the UCAS website, but things change fast and students need to be quick. They must contact the university’s admissions office to see if it will consider them, and to clarify anything about the institution and course. It can be daunting for an 18-year-old, so they’re likely to need parental support. It is important however that the student and not their parent makes the phone call!


Adjustment is a service within UCAS for candidates who have done better than expected which gives them a chance to reconsider where and what to study. If they’ve had a firm conditional choice accepted – and therefore made into an unconditional firm choice – they could potentially swap their place for one on another course.  It’s entirely optional. And a lot of competitive courses will be full, but other applicants might have missed their conditions or swapped a course too, so it could be worth seeing what’s available.

Find out more

UCAS Advice for Parents and Guardians
The Complete Universities Guide
Which? University
How to Write an Effective UCAS Personal Statement

And see universities’ own websites for further advice and information.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Personal Statements - the top ten mistakes to avoid

how to impress with your UCAS personal statement

1.  Boring opening paragraph

Pity the poor admissions tutor sitting at a desk groaning under the weight of UCAS forms.  Every year they have the task of reading (and rating) hundreds of personal statements.  How many of these begin with  “I am looking forward to studying xyz at university because…” or “Since I was in primary school I’ve always wanted to be an xyz…”  We always say about interviews that first impressions count and it is no different with personal statements.

There is a tricky balance to be struck here between being uber-whacky and ultra-conservative.   Humour, for example, is likely to fall flat unless it is particularly clever and subtle.  But you don’t want to risk being so safe that your statement lacks impact, leaving the admissions tutor to merely skim through the rest of the document.  You need to give them a reason to read on with a sense of expectation.

The aim is to make a positive impact in your opening paragraph so that the reader sits up and takes notice without thinking “Uh-oh,  here we go with another screw-ball!”  There is no formula for this.  Whether you decide to make your opening gambit passionate, informative, original or humorous is your judgment call but do try to make it personal to you,  authentic  and eye-catching.

2.  Overly brief Statement

UCAS has given you 47 lines (or 4,000 characters) for a reason – they expect you to use them.  If not all of them, then the vast majority.  If you cannot do this then you need to go back to the drawing board as you have clearly not devoted sufficient time to thinking the whole thing through and hence are not going into the detail that will be expected of you.

There are always students who think that academic standards alone are going to be enough to get you onto the course of your choice.  This is simply not true.  Even with an A2 prediction of 4 A*s, a 5 line personal statement will never be enough.  And nor will 25, or even 35 lines.  45, however, and you’re in with a good chance.

If you are really struggling with the length of your personal statement then get it reviewed by a careers adviser or teacher.   they should be able to spot areas that you have either missed out completely or that you need to expand upon.  In fact,  it is always a good idea to get your statement checked out by someone in the know!

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Job Search ~ Strategies for Success

get a job

This brief guide will provide you with the formula for successful job search. Success is all about adopting a positive, organised and persistent approach.

Starting Points

You may have already identified some obvious places to look such as the internet, newspaper job ad pages and at careers fairs.  Less obvious job search strategies include applying for jobs speculatively, networking and using recruitment agencies.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Careers Advice: all about student finance

Careers Advice ; all about student finance

Since last year universities and colleges can now charge full-time students a maximum of £9,000 a year in tuition fees. Many courses will be cheaper than this (for example, when there are provided by local colleges) but the average is estimated to be £8,350.

The good news is that this doesn’t need to be paid by you! Students are able to take out a loan to cover the cost of fees and don’t need to pay this back until after they’ve graduated and are earning more than £21,000 a year.

If they live in Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales (or if the course is funded by the NHS) they may pay less or nothing at all.

Saturday, 8 February 2014

British Chambers of Commerce says Careers Education is UK's Top Skills and Employment Priority

Career Guidance for School Leavers

British Chambers of Commerce have issued a Skills and Employment Manifesto which addresses the major problems we face in supporting young people's transition from education to employment.

This document calls for the government to radically reform the current provision for careers education:

Friday, 7 February 2014

Career Development Activities in Schools Foster Success

In 2011 iCeGS at the University of Derby published a paper (for a North American audience) which summarised the research evidence pointing to the importance of CEIAG.

The authors (Tristram Hooley, John Marriott and James P. Sampson, Jr) focused on the positive impact of careers education and guidance on retention, achievement and successful transition.

Professionals working in the field of career development have an intuitive grasp of the value of their work, based on experience and common sense, but at a time when the profession is under direct attack from blinkered politicians it is very helpful to be able to refer to findings like these.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Mind the Gap ~ Future Skills for Growth

LMI; labour market information ; skills

The UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) published the results of a major enquiry into future skills needs in 2010.  This was the first national Strategic Skills Audit for England.  It was intended to  provides “insight and foresight on skill needs and imbalances” and to identify “the sectors, occupations and skills that we need to prioritise to meet the changing needs of the economy and labour market.”

The Commission updated its findings in the 2013 Employer Skills Survey and found that the growth in vacancies that can’t be filled because people do not have the required skills has risen twice as quickly as the growth in overall vacancies.  More than one-in-five vacancies is proving difficult to fill for skills reasons, up from one-in-six in 2011.