Applying to college and Conditional Offer (Part 3)

Entry Requirements

Next place to look would be the entry requirements for US students. There should be a web page specifically for US students containing information on entry requirements and other details such as the FAFSA process. York St. John’s university has the following:

Qualification: High School Diploma plus SATS.
Grade: 2.6 GPA or higher and one of the following: 1100 in the SAT, or at least 20 in the ACT.

Out of interest If you are going to Oxford or Cambridge expect the entry requirements to be much higher. Cambridge has:

Qualification: High School Diploma plus SATS
Grade: Minimum of 5 AP’s at grade 5. SAT – 1500 for science courses, 1,460 for all other courses. ACT – Minimum of 32.

My daughter is a smart cookie so she easily qualified for York St. John’s.

Applying for College (UCAS)

The colleges website will tell you how to apply but one of the most popular is Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). It is responsible for handling the application process for UK universities. You must register to the service, pay an application fee (£13 per course), and apply online to the college before the deadline. The application is sent by UCAS to the college you applied to. The college will decide whether to make you an offer of a place You will either get a unconditional offer, where you have been given a place regardless, or a conditional offer, where you will be given a place subject to conditions, such as grades to be met or extra requirements.

One important part of the application is a Personal Statement. This gives you a chance to write about your achievements, your interest in the subject you are applying for. There is a maximum of 4,000 characters (including spaces) or 47 lines – whichever comes first. The Personal Statement is very important and there are plenty of online resources to help you.

There are application deadlines you do not want to miss and the deadline will depend on the college and the course you are applying for. For example, 15th October is the deadline for Oxford and Cambridge and also for anyone taking medicine, dentistry and veterinary science. The 15th January for most other courses, and 24th March for some art and design courses.

Course Entry requirements

It is possible that your course will have some extra entry requirements that you will have to complete before you get an offer. Depending on the school and course you might be able to interview via Skype or other such online tool. Some colleges also tour the USA so look out for dates. If you are applying for a courses in the Arts then you likely will want to “perform” in person and If you are doing a course such as Photography they will want to see a portfolio. In my daughter’s case they wanted to do the Group activity, Class presentation and Interview all on the same day. The day started at 9.30am and finished at 3pm. You will likely know very soon after the interview if you have been accepted to the college and should expect an offer to appear on UCAS website. In my daughter’s case she received an email of acceptance 2 days after the interview, on her way back to the US.

Conditional Offer

So you were accepted to college but with some conditions. The UCAS site will detail the conditions. With my daughter studying teaching it came with some extra hoops to jump through, such as:

  1. Numeracy Professional skills test.
  2. 20 days experience in UK school.
  3. DBS – UK background check (because she will be working with children)

Numeracy Professional skills test – Wikipedia says “computer-based tests in literacy and numeracy which must be passed by anyone attempting to gain qualified teacher status (QTS) in England. The tests must be passed before enrolling onto an initial teacher training course, such as the Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE), or the Bachelor of Education (BEd).

The goal of the tests is to “assess the core skills that teachers need to fulfil their professional role in schools, rather than the subject knowledge needed for teaching,” and “to ensure all teachers are competent in numeracy and literacy, regardless of their specialism.

There are online practice tests to help you, and part of the test is a mental arithmetic section where you have to do math in your head under a time constraint. They are very strict when it comes to identification of yourself and making sure you do not have any hearing devices on your glasses or in your ears. Just a warning, they are very hot on making sure you are who you say you are and that you have the correct forms of identification. Your name on documents must match exactly your name and my daughter fell foul of that one when the UCAS acceptance document only gave first letter of her first name instead of it being fully spelled out and they would not accept it.

20 days experience in UK school – All applicants, not just international students, must have experience in a UK school. Fortunately in the UK schools only have a 6 week summer break, and although they do have about the same number of schools days as in the US they are spread out over the year. In the UK teachers have a maximum of 6 weeks before getting a week off. This did mean that my daughter could fly to the UK the day after graduating in early June and have 4 weeks volunteering in a UK school to meet the 20 day requirement. Phew. My daughter was in the UK for 6 weeks so she could also get the Numeracy Professional skills test done. She passed first time.

DBS – Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check. This cannot actually be done till you have an address in the UK. The college accepted my daughter without this condition being met as we provided a FBI background check as an alternative, but they still had to do a DBS check once she arrived at college. It is a government requirement, even though we knew nothing would come up as she has never lived in the UK.

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