It’s not as scary as it seems: how teachers' can support a student's transition from school to university by introducing them to university summer schools
This is a guest blog from Emma, who works in the Education Liaison team at Edge Hill University
Supporting students to make informed decisions about whether or not university is right for them, or even which course and university to choose, can be very difficult. I am sure we have all worked with students who lack the confidence or the clarity to make these decisions, and often the more information we provide to them, the more confusing it can be. There are lots of great online resources for students to utilise in their decision making, however nothing can beat trying the university experience out for themselves.
Many universities offer taster events during which students can attend academic sessions and speak to current staff and students. These days help students gain an understanding of what studying at university might be like.
How about encouraging a student to attend a university summer school?
At Edge Hill University, in addition to a range of subject taster days, we also host two one week academic summer residentials for year 12/first year college students. These events allow students to attend three days of academic sessions, in which they have to complete an independent project in addition to staying in our onsite student accommodation with a mix of fellow residential students. Students are therefore experiencing university level study and life as a university student, in addition to developing their independent study skills.
We ask all students to write a short statement about their motivations to join the summer residential, why they want to study that particular subject and what they think they will get out of the event. The majority of students want to sample university level study, many want to make sure they are capable of that level of study and that they will enjoy it. We receive lots of applications from students that want to try living away from home, with people they have never met before, putting themselves out of their comfort zone. Over half of the students who attended the residential in 2015 went on to apply to Edge Hill, those who started with us in September therefore already had a group of friends and knew the University and their academic tutors. This will no doubt support their transition to university and as a result their achievement.
Events such as these help students who have anxiety about moving away from home or those who worry that they might not be able to complete their work to a high enough standard, as well as those students who can’t decide which course or which university is right for them. The Edge Hill University residential is fully funded and many other universities will offer similar opportunities for students to try before they commit to a university course. Some universities will offer summer schools for younger students and/or those from particular widening participation backgrounds. Students engaging in these events will have great experience to put on their personal statement as well as feeling more confident and more informed about their options.
I would highly recommend advising students to engage with these sorts of activities; 97% of our attendees last year felt more informed about Higher Education after the event with one student commenting “it’s not as scary as it seems, there is always someone that will be like you”.