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Mature Students - Access Courses, A Levels, Ou Courses...???


I am applying to study Social and Political Sciences as a mature student.
I shall be going back to college in September to study the Access to HE Humanities and Social Sciences. I have been informed by University admissions that this course, if target achieved, is suitable academic preparation. Just wondered though if any of the other forms of preparation are preferred? Or if anyone out there is studying an Access course, are you studying further A levels??

Also, I received a letter from Lucy admissions saying that they would be happy to consider an application for 2009, but the closing date for applications is October 2008. My Access course starts September 2008 - can this be right???

Any help/advice much appreciated.

:confused: :confused:
Reply 1
Yes, university admissions for Cambridge and Oxford are extremely early. From what I remember when applying to UCAS, Oxbridge applications and applications for Meidicine, Dentistry, Vetenary Science etc had to be submitted around Ocotober and everything else by January.

It is not impossible to apply for Cambridge in October after starting your Access course in September, but you would probably need an excellent reference to say you were going to achieve the necessary marks. Just like anything else - you get a reference to say you will get 3 As, doesn't mean you will, but they consider you on the strength of your reference and perhaps previous study?

What have you got to lose though!? Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Hope it goes well!
Yes, the application process doesn't give you much time to establish yourself academically if you are doing a one year course. However, now you know that, you just have to make best effort to hit the ground running as it where, make a good impression. Also, because you are a mature student, the admissions staff will look much more closely at what you have been doing work/experience wise. So your application should focus on what you have been doing between leaving school and this application and how it supports your academic aspirations. So any work/experiences where you have had to produce reports, analyse information, meet deadlines, make arguments for a case, read a lot etc are taken as equivalent to the skills gained in sixth form study.

Not sure that's a very clear explanation, but what I'm trying to say is that the fact you have only one month on the academic course doesn't really matter, that's not what the decision to make an offer will be based on.
Reply 3
Many thanks for your help.

I've applied to go to the Summer school for adult learners at Cambridge and I have also enroled onto a preparation/what to expect course which is being run in conjunction with the Lucy Cavendish College. I'm not sure if any of this will hold any influence to my application. I am also reading various texts I believe are covered on the degree - Leviathan for one.
Do you think any of this could help?

I think that it won't help your application directly, in that the admissions person probably isn't going to give you extra marks for attending those things. However, it is going to help a lot indirectly, in that all those things will enable you to make a better prepared, more focussed application, highlighting your strengths and potential.

Remember that at this stage, when reading the core texts, you don't need to know the absolute detail of what Hobbes was arguing on page 257. What you need to know is what Hobbes was generally arguing for and against, why he argued it, and who was influenced by him, ie how it fits with other influential works.
Reply 5
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions.
I have also ordered The Politics (Classics) and The Social Contract (Wordsworth Classics of World Literature). Worth a read I thought. I don't suppose you are able to offer any suggestions on any other relevant texts?
Not so much of a generosity on my part, more me trying to avoid a rather tricky piece of re-writing of my thesis!

I'm only really acquainted with the politics element of SPS, don't know much at all about the Psychology and Sociology parts. Have a check through the SPS thread on here, I can't believe that Craghyrax hasn't produced a key texts reading list at some point!
Reply 7
Ha - well then I shall ask for no more of your time (for now). I'm not contributing to an excuse! :smile:

Good luck and thanks again.
Reply 8
As for reading, natanatnat, I think generally the advice is just to READ! Widely, and anything. If it's relevant, so much the better. :wink:
There is no requirement to read the so-called 'core' texts before your interview -- they, after all, are what you will study once here -- so you don't need to focus on them. There's no harm in reading them, but don't feel limited by it. SPS is a really broad subject, and people doing it have all kinds of crazy interests; there's no need to try to fit into one or other part of it.

So, read what interest you, and think about *why* it interests you (because that's the interesting stuff). Enjoy! :smile:
Reply 9
Many thanks for your help.

I've applied to go to the Summer school for adult learners at Cambridge and I have also enroled onto a preparation/what to expect course which is being run in conjunction with the Lucy Cavendish College. I'm not sure if any of this will hold any influence to my application. I am also reading various texts I believe are covered on the degree - Leviathan for one.
Do you think any of this could help?


What is the preparation/what to expect course? I applied for the summer school last year, but it was cancelled so I never got the chance to attend.

I very very nearly applied to Lucy, but didn't in the end (St Ed's is right next door, though). I went to the open days for mature students which was shortly before applications were due in, and it was very helpful. I advise you to go to as many open day/prep type events as possible, especially ones which are aimed at mature students.

I was told that some access courses were good prep, and some wern't. That sometimes (especially when done while working etc) mature colleges would consider students who had done two A levels, instead of three (or four, or five ... ) but I chose to do three A levels. If you have been told the access course you propose is sufficient prep, then I would take them at their word. I know that Lucy do two interviews and an exam, so they will use those, as well as your paper application, to assess you.

There is a slightly later date for mature students doing a one year access course/A levels, applying to a mature college, for a course which isn't medicinie (and a few other excluded course, I think vet medicine and architecture). You can find all the info on the website, unless they have changed the scheme. It was so that references could be put together, once new tutors knew you. It may have been that only references could be late and the rest of the application had to be in with all other applications.
Reply 10

I am also in the similar situation...I am 22 and left school when I was 16...My marks are good, but its been a while since then and therefore after deciding to go to Uni, I went to London Met...
After a half year there I have realised it is the worst possible way of gaining a degree and decided to withdraw...
Here I am now, thinking what to do next...Two choices: Part Time LLB at Birkbeck, or Legal Method Certificate course at Birkbeck, that is accepted by UCL, Kings College and Oxford for LLB...
As I am from abroad, I do not know too much how the whole things works here...I moved to London 5 years ago but spent all this time working and earning a living, so now I can afford university...
I would appreciate any advice...

Thank you
Reply 11
As long as you can get to the evening classes, I think the law route with Birkbeck sounds like a fine plan! The quality of the teaching is generally very good.

Also to add my two penneth, the mature students open day at Cambridge is really very good and all the staff and students are wonderfully helpful.

They stress Essay writing practice and some examination experience and I think for matures a lot goes on Interview. Plus, said many times before, 'how you think' not 'what you know'.
Reply 12
I think how it works is that you submit a preliminary application with reference (which I believe, excluding some subjects, can be handed in later anyway IF you apply to a mature college) and then they ask for another reference closer to your actual interview when your teachers know you a little better.
Reply 13
Well I just hope I'm offered an interview, then I'll try and wow them :smile:

I plan on reading texts relevant to the area of study. Not learning them, but just familiarising myself with various philosophers etc. I’m sure this won’t have an impact as to whether I’m offered a place or not, but I’m sure it will boost my confidence at interview.

I have an open day at Lucy Cavendish coming up, which I am looking forward too.

Thanks to all