UCAS advice

Having worked in higher education for nearly two decades, I bring that experience and my writing skills together to help A-level students (native and overseas), students, parents, and staff at schools and universities. My teaching at the University of Bristol includes providing UCAS support to foundation year students, the vast majority of whom are accepted by their first choice universities. I also fly to PR China every summer to teach on a summer school with students from all over China who then apply for study in the UK. I work alongside staff from the best schools and universities in the UK and US. I’m currently exploring running a study skills summer school in India (April 2019) with the very brilliant Dr. Dani Hilliard of Argue to Think and Anna Dearden of Higher Education Prospects.

Students and staff from the 2013 UCAS Oxbridge admissions summer school in Shanghai, PR China

What can I do for A-level students?

  • I can help you edit your Personal Statement. It needs to be interesting, different and original, while still containing all the elements universities are looking for. This is not an easy balance to strike! I won’t just repeat advice you have already heard, but go through your Personal Statement with you line by line, offering detailed advice on how to improve it.
  • I can help you choose the right universities and the right course for you. There are choices to be made, such as the type of course you choose (joint honours vs. single honours;  sandwich course, year in industry or year abroad courses; three-year degrees vs. four-year degrees, and so on). All these different courses will be looking for something slightly different and you will be competing with different people for places. I can help you be intelligent and informed about the choices that you make, right down to choosing a college.
  • I can prepare you for Oxbridge interviews. I had several interviews at Cambridge myself, and since then have done countless practice interviews and worked with admissions tutors from Oxbridge and many other Russell Group universities.
  • I can prepare you for university life. There is so much more to university than study and it can be a bewildering experience. Many talented, bright students struggle or drop out of university for reasons that have nothing to do with their studies. I can help you avoid this, for example providing advice on sources of support and information for the tough times. I have worked with vulnerable students for twenty years and will be completely candid with you about the realities of living away from home.

What can I do for teaching staff?

  • I can help you to help your students with their Personal Statements. I can help you advise your students on the key things to focus on, to give them the best chance of success.
  • I can help you write your reference. There are some pitfalls here for the unwary!
  • I can help you to help your students choose the right universities and the right courses for them. I can help you advise your students on all aspects of admissions, using real examples from my own experience. I know as well as you do that there is no sure-fire way to get a specific student into a specific university and I’ll also work with you on ways to help your students have realistic expectations and make the choices that are right for them.
  • I can help you prepare your students for Oxbridge interviews. There are always rumours among parents and students of strategies that may or may not work, or what Oxford or Cambridge may be looking for that year. I am not interested in rumours, but facts: my advice comes direct from my own experience and my colleagues and contacts, including admissions tutors and other university staff.
  • I can help you prepare your students for disappointment. Not every student that applies to Russell Group universities will be successful: it simply isn’t possible. Similarly, not every student that applies to Oxbridge will get an interview. Applying to university is a stressful time for everyone, but the stress can be minimised if students are informed and realistic about their chances. I can provide you with statistics and strategies to help you deal with this.
  • I can help you prepare your students for university life. Even if you graduated relatively recently, higher education has changed enormously in the last few years. I no longer work for a university, so I have no agenda and no conflict of interests: my aim is to give my customers as much good information as I can.

*Schools, students or parents are welcome to contact Jess to discuss UCAS workshops* 

I’m really happy to meet staff on a one-to-one basis, but I also run longer, in-depth UCAS workshops, for either staff or students. These can cover any and all university-related matters, including subjects of particular interest to your students, or concerns that you or their parents might have.

“Jess’s help with my daughter’s UCAS application has been invaluable. From making strategic decisions about which courses to apply for, to her detailed constructive advice on the personal statement she has been brilliant. My daughter now has an offer at her top choice university! What more could we ask for?” Amy Sevill

“Your dedication to the students and your outstanding work as a teacher and counsellor set a very high standard for anyone teaching in China—-or elsewhere. You are a superb teacher, and the work you are doing for the Chinese students is truly amazing.” Dr. Tom Benson, The Council for American Culture and Education

“Thanks so much for your help in the camp! I think you’re really one of the most inspirational and amazing people I’ve ever met. I hope I would be to help others like you do one day. I am beyond grateful!” Lavender Yan, student at the Oxbridge Summer School, Shanghai, July 2014