Monday, 25 August 2014

Applying to University

Applying to University in the UK

The prospect of going to open days and picking courses for your higher education is exciting and fun. However, the prospect of having to write your personal statement and fill out the rest of your UCAS application can be very daunting. Having been through the process myself whilst completing my Economics and Sociology Baccalaureate via CNED homeschooling, I am now studying American Studies at the University of Kent in Canterbury.

Here are some of my top tips to help you out:

1) Firstly, start thinking about it early, choosing a university and course which suits you can take some time - as can the application process. Avoid unnecessary stress and start planning ahead. Universities host open days throughout the year, but you can tie in visits with your usual trips to the UK by contacting the university's admissions office to arrange a tour on another day. UCAS applications open mid-September in the year before you want to start your course.

2) If the university you are interested in doesn't list the qualification your are studying towards on their grade requirement list, contact them! They're always happy to help and will also be able to explain language requirements for the course: some universities require all non-UK educated applicants to sit an English language proficiency test*, whilst others will simply specify a minimum grade for the English exam you sit as part of your baccalaureate for example.

3) Follow UCAS on social media, they're on Facebook and Twitter. They have a great social media team who will reply to you using those platforms, which can help avoid an expensive international phone call! They also remind you of important deadlines which is really useful. The same applies for following universities on social media, it's a great way to get a feel for the lifestyle the university offers.

4) Prepare a strong personal statement. It's harder for applicants who aren't going to a traditional college because we don't get the same kind of help from careers advisers, etc. Make sure you mention language skills and how great you are at working independently having acquired qualifications via distance learning - it's a great asset that admission tutors love!

5) And just keep in mind when filling out your application that it'll be worth it and Uni life is just around the corner!

This post was written by our guest blogger, India Bottomley, who has lived in France and is now in her 2nd year at the University of Kent.

* UCAS state that students will require one of the following as proof of English proficiency:

1) Edexcel IGCSE English Language

2) Cambridge IGCSE English Language

3) International Baccalaureate

Details of our online Edexcel IGCSE English Language & English Literature courses can be found on our website:

Monday, 18 August 2014

Back to School / La Rentree

'La Rentree' - One parent's experience.

As we move towards the second half of August the return to school known in France as La Rentrée draws ever closer.  And with La Rentréecomes preparations for school.  In France pupils have to supply their own exercise books and many other things including art materials, pens etc, file paper, folders, plastic pockets ... and so the list goes on.  At the end of the summer term a list is sent home and parents are giving the onerous task of gathering together all the supplies.  Yes, I can see anyone with school-age children in France quivering slightly at this point and fully understanding what this involves!

It is something I absolutely dread because there are so many variations on each item yet each teacher seems to ask for a specific thing, slightly different from the next.  Take A4 exercise books.  The lists that Ben and Tom have asks for 4 different types:

  • A4, 96 pages, small squares, not spiral bound
  • A4, 96 pages, large squares, not spiral bound
  • 24/32, 96 pages, small squares, not spiral bound*
  • 24/32, 96 pages, large squares, not spiral bound*

* These are slightly larger than standard A4 and are apparently preferred by teachers who get their pupils to stick lots of A4 sheets into their books. 

The shops however also supply exercise books with different numbers of pages and spiral bound and A5 and  plain .... and we poor parents have to trawl through them all to find the right ones.  Oh and then you have to try and work out if it is cheaper to buy multipacks or a different make and not forget that you need to buy the right number of protective covers to fit the number of different sized books you are asked to buy!!!

Oh and don't get me going on file paper (Feuilles).  The boys have been asked to get:

  • Feuilles simples A4 large squares
  • Feuilles simples A4 small squares
  • Feuilles doubles A4 large squares
  • Feuilles doubles A4 small squares
  • Feuilles simples A5 large squares


So this week I have been trying to pin down the boys to go through what they have left over from last year before bravely heading to the shops to stock up on everything new they need.  I may have been making preparations for La Rentrée but I reckon my word of the week could just have easily have been stressed or exasperated orconfused or broke!


Mum - "There we go!  I don't think we've forgotten anything!"
Boy  - "Yes! A giant school bag to store this lot in!"

If you are you in the midst of preparations for the return to the school, how's it going?

THe Mad House

We would love to read your comments on 'La Rentree'. Feel free to post a comment below.

This post was written by our guest blogger. Check out their great website: