1 February 2024
Mrs Maria Young, Director of Higher Education
With the end of January marking the UCAS equal consideration application deadline, all Woldingham students’ university entries for this year are now in. Most students applied well before final deadlines, resulting in many of our Upper Sixth already receiving a range of excellent offers, with more still to come. Students now look to turn these into reality in the summer exams.
We have 81 applicants to UK universities this year, a figure that includes a handful of post-qualification applicants - last year’s Upper Sixth students who took gap years and a few who want to change course. The success rate in securing offers has been exceptionally high this year, with students applying early and making ambitious but realistic choices, backed up by strong academic and co-curricular profiles.
Several subjects remain very popular for Woldingham students, with business, economics, film, media & communications, psychology, international relations, history, theology, sciences, media and fashion (design or marketing) and fine art-related courses all seeing strong numbers of applicants. We have three applicants for architecture-based courses this year, three criminologists, a classical archaeologist, a chemical engineer, a philosopher, a product designer, a musician, one drama & philosophy applicant, two engineers, three medics and a vet, amongst a range of other less usual specialisms. I’ve been pleased to see two students opting for liberal arts this year, something that has been a strength of US universities for many years and is now becoming more mainstream in the UK. This short summary does not capture the extraordinary breadth of chosen courses. Our Upper Sixth student have thought hard, listened to a great deal of advice and really have followed their passions to find the most effective next step for them, as an individual.
This year’s top university for the number of applications was Exeter, with 27 applicants, representing 33% of our cohort this year! Closely behind are Edinburgh (22) and Bristol (18), followed by UCL, Leeds, Durham and KCL. Students have already received many offers from all these universities. However, Upper Sixth students have sought out interesting courses that are a good fit for their individual future pathways, for example technical architecture at Birmingham City or UCA, illustration at Brighton and Kingston, international management at SOAS, interior design at Bath Spa and medical bioscience at Imperial College.
Students submitted a record 42 applications to US universities this year. It is still too early in the process to know all of the outcomes, but we do have some early offers from Parsons School of Design and Pratt (Mineh) plus Minerva, Lewis & Clark, Bard and Richmond (Linda). As well as applying to Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Boston, Brown, Columbia, NYU and other top institutions, our students have covered the full gamut of college choices and gone through the extremely demanding process of supplying multiple essays, jam-packed résumés, portfolios of work and a host of written recommendations – in addition to undergoing rigorous interviews online or in London. Balancing this additional work with ongoing A Level studies, EPQs, extra-curricular activities plus UCAS is a considerable challenge, and not one to be undertaken lightly.
We have a good range of international applications outside the US this year, including for biomedical science, business management, international relations, fashion, physics, psychology and medicine. Most international university applicants are also applying to the UK, but are currently looking at the universities of Toronto, EDHEC, ESSEC, Amsterdam and Hong Kong, amongst others. Congratulations to Zana who has secured the offer of a place at Warsaw in an elite cohort of scientists who all excelled in the Polish Physics Olympiad.
Applications for art courses cover the usual wide range of disciplines from fine art to fashion and textile design, illustration to art history and visual culture. Head of Art Miss Campbell shares more detail here. One student is applying for drama school in addition to her UCAS applications.
We are delighted to congratulate three students who secured offers for places at Cambridge this year: Isabel (St Catherine’s, music + organ scholarship), Freya (Homerton, education) and Natalia (Downing, HSPS).
We have three medicine applicants this year, who are still amidst their interviews. We have one medicine offer already and confidently expect more to follow. Our medical candidates have prepared carefully at school, have taken up many opportunities for work experience and have also furthered their skills via MOOCs – including our Head Girl’s famous suture kit! Early congratulations go to Jahnvi (2023), with a place to study medicine at Liverpool, and Immy, who has a veterinary medicine place at Nottingham.
Whilst the Upper Sixth look towards mocks, our Lower Sixth students have now begun their UCAS application preparation, with 1-1 coaching discussions this term to help them refine their ideas. A year ago, this was set be the first cohort not to have to write the traditional-format personal statement, but this significant change has been pushed back - probably to 2026. The change, when it comes, will involve the statement being broken down into smaller sections, each with subheadings. However, for now, we carry on with the traditional 4,000-character statement, which our Lower Sixth will start to craft in June.
Congratulations to all our students on their hard work with the applications, on a bumper crop of offers and many thanks to staff for preparing them so well!