From the 17th to the 24th of June, Concord College hosted a Pre-U Week; a post exam period purely dedicated to planning towards our university applications. For the next 7 days, the whole of 6.1 was to attend meetings and classes about applications to their preferred universities and classes. We were all assigned to a particular University Coordinator specialising on the subject we were applying to, and we were greeted by advice, assignment, and book recommendations in order to enrich our personal statement and basic knowledge on the subject. We also had talks by Oxford Tutors and more focused courses preparing us for admissions tests such as the LNAT and the UCAT. Something that stood out to me was the rigorousness of the schedules and organisation of Dr Pugh and our University Coordinators.
Although there were many things to attend, everything was carefully planned to avoid clashes and to make the most of our experience without feeling overwhelmed. We also had 3 outdoor experience days in order to enrich our communication and teamwork skills. Not only that, but it was also a break from the stress of exams and we were able to spend time with our friends. We wrote a blog about that too which you can read by clicking here.
“The experience is truly valuable, I feel like I wouldn’t get the same level of support if not studying at Concord, and it just made life a bit easier because I know what I am doing.” — a 6.1 student planning to study Economics at university.
Additionally, we had a ConMUN (Model United Nations) event which was a great experience for those looking to go into humanities, economics and public relations. Although speaking in front of 200 people might be frightening, everyone was really friendly: people clapped after everyone spoke and cheered after more enthusiastic speeches. I think this experience was truly helpful to everyone and it was a great way to practice for interviews and the formality of personal statements. There is also a blog about that – click here to read it.
The Marketing Team, as well as every student in 6.1 would like to warmly thank Dr Pugh and all of the staff involved in the Pre-U Week for forming a solid foundation in our preparations.
Ecaterina and Kenneth — 6.1
6.1’s Outdoor Education Experience
With the uncertainty that the UK weather brought during 3 consecutive days, most of us 6.1s went away from school for an allocated 2-day outdoor activity experience from the 19th to 21st June. However, it is unfortunate that due to the COVID situation we are unable to stay overnight throughout like we did in the previous years, but still, it has been one of the greatest highlights of our year.
The year group was divided into approximately 5 distinct activities for the experience, and we were taken to our allocated destinations quite early in the morning after a warm breakfast at 7:30. Under the lightly overcast skies alongside the fragrant smell of summer breeze, it was quite a blessing to just have slight drizzles rather than heavy rain as forecasted during our trip.
Some of us joined the water sports activities including kayaking, canoeing and raft building at the Bomere Pool. It must have been an unconventional and thrilling experience for many of us who haven’t been in water for quite a while. Some of us went rock-climbing and abseiling right across the border of Wales and Shropshire to test and overcome our fear of heights. I’ve never tried the real, literal rock-climbing so I found this challenge very exhilarating with an incredible sense of achievement at the end. The remaining group activity was a hike along the Stiperstones, with a little scrambling and stove cooking in between, like some of us who settled for a nice hotdog on the way. Overall, the view up there was extremely spectacular and was totally worth it even with our legs trembling at the cliffside.
With the variety of activities the school offered, and the professional instructors or teachers guiding our way, these few days have been an absolute delight away from our usual routines of academic focus, and has shifted towards the astounding scenery of nature. There’s no doubt we all enjoyed the process of teambuilding, of reaching out to different groups of people, or to conquer what we have been terrified of doing for a very long time.
“The most challenging part of a mission is the ability to take the first step.” — participant from the hiking group.
“It was a wonderful experience being able to spend more quality time with my friends, especially not being able to be with them for the 3 months during online school, it was a great opportunity to get to know and familiarise with more people in our year.” — participant from the water sports trip to Bomere pool.
I think we would all agree that this was such a fulfilling wrap-up for our Pre-U week, as well as our academic year, prior to going our separate ways before reuniting again in September.
Tiffany and Kenneth – 6.1
Pre-U Activities Week
This year’s Pre-U week has been unlike any other. Instead of being able to visit universities first hand and attend live seminars about UCAS, we are now glued to our laptops and attending these events virtually. Technology has enabled us to continue with what everyone has been doing every year, allowing us to not lose out, even with the current pandemic. This year, the school held many talks to ensure that we can make full use of the summer to create a competitive UCAS application. There were library sessions, where we were taught how to use the school’s online library for our course-related reading, persuasive essay writing workshops, and a talk about the English requirement for university. The school also had sessions for students applying to specific universities, such as Imperial College London, LSE and Durham – where some of the 6.2s who have been given an offer at those universities spoke about their experiences when applying for them and what they felt went well, allowing us to have a better understanding of what these universities are looking for so that we can pay more attention to those points during the summer.
Despite the current situation, we were still able to ‘visit’ the universities. A UK university virtual search fair was held that week which featured many universities from all over the UK. Each university had a booth where students could find information regarding the university and the links to the website for any further information. There was also a chat function that students could use to message a university representative for any queries. The University of Manchester also hosted a virtual open day that week. They scheduled many talks throughout the week about each of the different courses offered by the university. Some of these include taster sessions and student life talks where students who are currently studying that subject in Manchester speak about their personal experiences when studying that course. There was time at the end of every session for a Q&A and university representatives were available at all times during the session to answer any questions as well. These events have eliminated my lingering doubts about my chosen course and made me more determined to get into it.
The school has also held mock interviews for Oxbridge applicants and mock admissions tests for students who needed to take one to get into their course. The mocks allowed me to become more conscious of the holes in my knowledge and what I need to do to improve.
After attending this week’s Pre-U activities, I realised how long and difficult the UCAS process is, requiring a lot of preparation during the summer to ensure that you can compete with all the brilliant minds who are also applying to the top universities. I feel grateful for the support the school has given us, for letting us know exactly what needs to be done during the summer so that we can have an easier time in 6.2, and for the heads-up about the heavy workload we are bound to have. This allows us to be mentally prepared to face the gruelling but rewarding journey ahead.
Amber – 6.1