The dark art of giving your child a competitive edge in life


The Sutton Trust published a report today looking at how a written personal statement can be influential in getting even the brightest students into the best UK universities.

This is especially so, according to the report, if you come from a privileged family background that prepares you well for writing the maximum 4,000 words needed to convince an admissions tutor of your worth as a future undergraduate at their highly selective university department.

Quill

An expensive Hogwarts quill to help write personal statements?

The report raises all kinds of issues to do with social mobility and education in England, of which I list a few below with interesting links:

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Where do we go from here?

The report recommends that in the UK we move more towards the US approach of candidates being allowed to write a ‘diversity essay’ to explain what they can bring to a college’s mix of campus life. In fact if you look at the Common Application form for US colleges you can see that candidates get a choice of up to 6 different types of essay with a maximum of only 500 words, which I imagine can be tough depending on your writing skills.

Another issue is the impact that entry to medicine has on the school system in England. It requires not only the best grades in the ‘hardest’ A-level subjects and the most impressionable personal statements, but also the best university admissions test results and interview performances – all involving a huge investment which inevitably favours those schools and/or parents who are best equipped to help their children tackle this.

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