Written by Atticus Rose.
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While many of our young are feeling lost and perplexed that their long term plans for exciting and adventurous summers and gap years have fallen into disarray over the last two months, all is not lost. Those who are heading straight to university this autumn may also be experiencing some anxiety, particularly given the news from Cambridge University last week. It is our job to help them to steer their ships at this time, remain calm and encourage opportunity to be found in the face of adversity. Over the next few months, a positive mindset will be vital to ensure that our teenagers innovate and make the most of what they have at their fingertips. Below are a few key pointers for your teenagers, as well as some lockdown activities to boost their skills and CVs:
- Recognise that negative news is what sells - try to look passed the attention-grabbing headlines (if indeed you are still looking at the news at all!), for the facts. The press sent everyone into a meltdown by announcing that Cambridge University would be moving online for the academic year 202/2021. What it did not make clear is that all that Cambridge is doing is moving its lectures online https://www.cam.ac.uk/notices/news/statement-by-cambridge-heads-of-house-about-the-academic-year-2020-21?ucam-ref=homehero Quite sensibly too. As a collegiate system, all seminars and tutorials are expected to take place as usual, owing to the smaller group sizes these require. Cambridge has made a responsible decision to encourage as little disruption as possible for students studies over the next year - this decision has been made to help students, not to hinder them! Let’s hope other universities fall inline and demonstrate similar leadership.
- Travel might be off the cards for a while, but as the lockdown eases the UK has plenty of opportunities to offer. They may not promise the sunshine and exoticism of South East Asia, but the life lessons are still very much available and the time spent can still be as impactful. Whether looking to re-organise a gap year, or fill this time until university, what is imperative is that teenagers are doing just that - filling the time. Being industrious, taking courses and developing skills over this period, will be vital when it comes to applying for internships and jobs later down the line - to say that you achieved little over the coming months will do little to impress! Below is a selection to help inspire:
- Eton X Courses - these fabulous courses are easy to sign up for and offer a selection of courses focusing on leadership and communication skills.
- MOOCs - if you are applying for university over the next year, look at the MOOCs on offer as a way of enriching your university application.
- Online Internships - http://interns4good.org This site offers voluntary online placements.
- Look for jobs with transferrable skills: when trying to bring in pennies and save some money, not all of the jobs you come across will seem overly glamorous or offer intellectual stimulation. What is important however is that you are able to reflect on the role and extrapolate how the position benefitted you (as well as your bank balance!). Did it require you to work as part of a team, or indeed lead one? Did it develop your communication skills, or strengthen your resilience? When you start to reflect on the positions you’ve held in a more holistic capacity, not only with the value of your work become more pronounced but you will likely find that you have far more to fill your CV than you initially thought.
- Enrichment Programmes - I have put together several engaging and dynamic enrichment programmes over the last couple of months, for Year 13 students who will be starting university this autumn. Their purpose is to inform and stimulate the student around the subject they will be taking, while similarly preparing them for their studies ahead.
- First Year Reading Lists - Download your first year reading list from your university website and use this time to prepare for your university studies in September. If you are unable to find the list online, contact one of your first year lecturers or course leaders and ask for them to send a copy through. They will be delighted with your enthusiasm!
- Start / Continue with a Language - Having worked so hard on developing a language while at school, continue to build on your GCSE / A Level foundations, using apps such as Babble. This can be formatted to use for as little as a 15 minute boost per day!
- Minerva Symposia - this is a fabulous online programme which has been developed by Minerva Tutors. They have created numerous different courses specifically for Year 11 and Year 13 students. The courses range from ’The Art of Persuasion’ to ‘Borderlands and Exile - Interrogating Modern Migration and Globalisation’. Definitely worth a look! https://www.minervatutors.co.uk/symposia-courses/
- Career Coaching - Use this time to understand more about which industries are aligned with your personality and skills. Develop a structured way to build your network and start asking questions with the view of gaining some work experience. For more information on this, academic mentoring and life coaching for 14 - 25 year olds, please visit my website https://www.atticus-rose.com/areas-of-expertise.
While the above does offer some guidance into what can be done, one of the main obstacles I have found with my Year 13 clients most recently has been the need to overcome apathy. Injecting some excitement and motivation has been essential before even thinking about approaching options. Through a mixture of coaching and mentoring, I have worked with them to arrive at a more positive and hopeful place, where they feel inspired to take control of their situation. Through this and creating structured plans, I have been delighted with the rhythm and self-discipline they have regained, the creativity they have demonstrated, and the fortitude they have mustered as they look forward to different, but nonetheless exciting, futures.