University here we come…

It was interesting, in February this year, to reflect on transition to University. We need to look again at study skills and differentiation; that, at any rate, was my message from the spring. So with that in mind, I read one of the umpteen student-facing advice articles in the papers today: this is a representative one from the Guardian. This one – on what to say (or not to say) in a Clearing ‘phone call – was interesting, but gave no clue as to what, as a tutor I might sound like. Here we are all en masse anyway. What do we look like?

It’s been interesting to reflect on the kinds of conversations I’ve had today. They are, after all, part of the transition commerce, part of our “selling” ourselves to one another, the over-confident young woman (trying not to cry?), the breezy young man who tells me today is “scary.” And me: potential rescuer? someone you could work with? academic Pandarus? just another teacher telling you teachery things? And never mind about selling me: what about selling my course – even Higher Education as a project? Part of the transition, after all, is to believe (or at least to want to start to believe) that this going to be something worth doing for three or more years. I won’t start the hare of “worth” here.

A huge number of applicants – as I suppose will be bound to happen in Clearing – tell me that “Exams and me never really got on.” It’s therefore a delicate balance between telling them that

  • everything will be all right
  • exams are not always the best way to predict how someone will do at university and
  • you will still have hard work ahead.

I am faced, too, with the incessant drone on social media about “A Level Results Aren’t Everything.” I know they’re not – and I recognise (even when I don’t remember my B B D from 1975) that they feel like they’re everything. But they are something. At the very least, they are a punctum at the end of two years’ study; they might feel like a judgement on fourteen years of schooling. Might a student come to Education Studies with a fundamental question “Fourteen Years: what was that all about?”  I am back at my talk in May on Why Education?


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