Monday, 18 September 2017

When to apply for US University - is Early decision or Early Action right for you?

Our guest blog is written by Phil Garner, expert in making applications to the US. 
Many US Universities offer an option for students to apply EARLY DECISION or EARLY ACTION.
Early decision versus early action 
Early decision plans are binding — a student who is accepted as an ED applicant must attend the college. Early action plans are nonbinding — students receive an early response to their application but do not have to commit to the college until the normal reply date of May 1.
Some 450 colleges have early decision or early action plans, and some have both. Some colleges offer a nonbinding option called single-choice early action, under which applicants may not apply ED or EA to any other college..
If you are considering applying Early Decision then:
  • Apply early (usually in November) to first-choice college.
  • You will receive an admission decision from the college well in advance of the usual notification date (usually by December).
  • You MUST agree to attend the college if accepted and offered a financial aid package that is considered adequate by the family.
  • You can apply to only one college early decision.
  • You may still apply to other colleges under regular admission plans.
  • You MUST withdraw all other applications if accepted by ED.
  • You will need to send a nonrefundable deposit well in advance of  May 1.
If you are going to apply Early Action then:
  • You should apply early.
  • You should receive an admission decision early in the admission cycle (usually in January or February).
  • You must consider acceptance offer but you do not have to commit upon receipt.
  • You can still apply to other colleges under regular admission plans.
  • You must give the college a decision no later than the May 1 national response date.
Who should apply early?
Applying to an ED or EA plan is most appropriate for a student who:
  • Has researched colleges extensively.
  • Is absolutely sure that the college is the first choice.
  • Has found a college that is a strong match academically, socially and geographically.
  • Meets or exceeds the admission profile for the college for SAT® scores, GPA and class rank.
  • Has an academic record that has been consistently solid over time.
Applying to an ED or EA plan is not appropriate for a student who:
  • Has not thoroughly researched colleges.
  • Is applying early just to avoid stress and paperwork.
  • Is not fully committed to attending the college.
  • Is applying early only because friends are.
  • Needs a strong senior fall semester to bring grades up.
The benefits of applying early
There are benefits for a student who has a definite first-choice college, applying early has many benefits besides possibly increasing the chance of getting in. Applying early lets the student:
  • Reduce stress by cutting the time spent waiting for a decision.
  • Save the time and expense of submitting multiple applications.
  • Gain more time, once accepted, to look for housing and otherwise prepare for college.
  • Reassess options and apply elsewhere if not accepted.
The drawbacks of applying early
Pressure to decide: Committing to one college puts pressure on students to make serious decisions before they've explored all their options.
Reduced financial aid opportunities: Students who apply under ED plans receive offers of admission and financial aid simultaneously and so will not be able to compare financial aid offers from other colleges. For students who absolutely need financial aid, applying early may be a risky option.
Time crunch for other applications: Most colleges do not notify ED and EA applicants of admission until December 15. Because of the usual deadlines for applications, this means that if a student is rejected by the ED college, there are only two weeks left to send in other applications. Encourage those of your students who are applying early to prepare other applications as they wait to receive admission decisions from their first-choice college. 
Relaxing: Applicants who learn early that they have been accepted into a college may feel that, their goal accomplished, they have no reason to work hard for the rest of the year. Early-applying students should know that colleges may rescind offers of admission should their expected grades drop.


Are you interested in going to the US for university then contact us and we can arrange for you to speak to Phil and explain how he can help you make a successful application.
Email  01865 522066 for an informal discussion on how we can help.
For more information visit

Thursday, 31 August 2017


First day at school tips
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Thanks to Sally Markowska for these great tips for starting a new school:

Have a positive attitude! Yes, joining a new school is a challenge BUT embrace the adventure. Remember the times you have tried something new before and how you survived

·       Remember you will not be the only new pupil: Others will be feeling exactly like you!

·       Before term starts: Have you got details of any pupils already at the school? It is worth contacting them informally to ask any burning questions you may have and/or to meet up. Even exchanging emails/texts would mean you already know someone at the school.

·       Be confident or at least pretend to be! Hold your head high as you walk in those gates for the first time.

·       SMILE at all the people you meet: It has an immediate effect on others and you will feel more positive too.

·       Have some opening ice-breaking questions ready: ‘Hi, what is your name?’ or ‘I am new and have no idea what I am supposed to be doing now. Do you?’

·       Timetable: Does it make sense? Do you understand where to go for each lesson? Do not be afraid to ask someone, even another pupil walking down the corridor- they were in your shoes once!

·       Break and lunchtimes: Be prepared for these. Ask others where they go for break/lunch and ask if you can go along on the first day. Don’t be shy!

·       In the first lessons: Introduce yourself to the people who sit near you, join in the discussions, try to ask and answer questions. You will feel better about yourself if you can but do not despair if it is all too challenging in the first few days!

·       Learn the names of the teachers who are responsible for your well-being: You should know who to turn to if you have a problem or feel unwell.

·       If the first day is difficult: Remind yourself that it is early days and things WILL improve.

·       Be proud of yourself at the end of the day: Congratulate yourself on surviving your first day! This is the beginning of something exciting…


We offer a wide range of services and expert advice on your child's education. If you'd like to speak to Sally or any of our other expert consultants contact us:
Email  01865 522066 for an informal discussion on how we can help.
For more information visit

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Affordable University in the USA for British Students

US university apply

Last year over 10,000 students went to study in the USA, the highest number ever. So what is it that’s attracting more and more UK students to study at University in America?

There are many reasons to choose the US for university and these can include, academic excellence, the huge variety of educational institutions, the advanced technology available to its students and the campus experience.

However for many students it is about a straightforward evaluation of the fees and whether the money well spent in the UK when comparing the academic standards, tutor-student ratios, professor contact time, extracurricular activities and world class facilities, which often exceed many UK universities. For others, it is the attraction of many generous scholarships that many well-funded US Colleges/ Universities offer to international students and you do not need to be an outstanding academic or elite athlete to be eligible.

Last year, many British students studied in the USA. These students had adequate funding before they were approved to study in the US. Don't let funding get in your way; student loans and scholarships can help you cover:

· Tuition & Fees

· Books & Supplies

· Food & Groceries

· Room and Board

· Entertainment

· Travel & Transportation

· Clothing & Toiletries

· Saving & Investments

If you find yourself still struggling with a funding gap, it's not too late to get money with an international student loan or a scholarship!
  You may find that your education in the USA is TOTALLY FREE!

If you would like to learn more about how Phil can help you apply to a US university contact Claire at 


We offer a wide range of services and expert advice on your child's education.
Email or contact Claire on 01865 522066 for an informal discussion on how we can help.
For more information visit

Thursday, 3 August 2017

How to Survive A Level Results Day 2017

This blog on How To Survive A level Results Day is by Higher Education Consultant Sally Markowska, an expert in university applications. 
  • Do not go to bed very late the night before Thursday August 17th. This is going to be a long, significant day, whatever your results. You will need to remain calm, cool and collected as you may need to make quick decisions.
  • Ask a parent or mature friend to make themselves available to you either in person or on the phone; whatever way the results go, you will need someone to share tears of joy or pain.
  • Get your UCAS log in details ready the night before- you will need these and you do not want to be scrabbling around for them.
  • It would help to have ready the telephone numbers of the direct lines to the admissions’ departments of your firm and insurance places; if you need to speak to someone at these places, you will have the data ready.
  • Make sure your mobile phone is charged.
  • At 8am UCAS Track will spring to life: your firm choice may confirm your place (it will say UNCONDITIONAL) OR it may not. Do NOT panic if you cannot get online or your universities haven’t posted anything yet. Remember UCAS will not post your exam results but may show if your place at university has been confirmed.
  • If your firm place is confirmed, dance around the kitchen and call Granny. You will receive the AS12 email from UCAS: read it carefully and respond accordingly.
  • If it showing as ‘Conditional’, don’t panic: it may not have been updated OR you have your insurance place OR you will have to get ready to find somewhere else.
  • EAT something: will help your energy levels even if you feel nauseous at the thought of what is to come…
  • Before your results are given to you either in school, online or on the phone, make sure you have your mobile, a pen and paper and a calm, supportive adult (if possible).
  • Once you have your results confirmed, you will know where you stand.
  • YOU HAVE MET YOUR FIRM OFFER: Well done! Feel proud and open the champagne.
  • YOU HAVE MET YOUR INSURANCE OFFER: Well done! You have a place at one of your top two university choices! You will have to tell the Student Loan Company and contact this university to sort out accommodation.
  • YOU HAVE DONE BETTER THAN PREDICTED AND THINK YOU WOULD LIKE TO APPLY TO A UNIVERSITY WITH HIGHER GRADE REQUIREMENTS: This is called Adjustment and you do not have to give up your firm place to enter into this stage. Look on the UCAS website for more details.
  • YOU HAVE MISSED BOTH YOUR OFFERS FOR FIRM AND INSURANCE PLACES: This is hard, especially if your friends are shrieking with delight all around you. Try to go somewhere quiet to talk with someone you trust. Your school will have helped many students in this position so listen to their advice. Don't worry, soon with careful thinking and acting, you will have a plan.
  • It is worth calling your insurance university to see if they can still consider you. They may even offer you a different course. Don’t make hasty decisions about this; make time to look at the course content to make sure you would be happy studying this subject.
  • CLEARING: If you have missed both your offers, you will be entered automatically into Clearing. The UCAS website will list all available courses- search by subject and be open to different courses/institutions.
  • You may wish to re-take your A Levels- this is a perfectly respectable course to take. We all make mistakes and, learning from them and moving on is a mature approach to take. You could see it as a year to re-think, re-adjust and perhaps get a part-time job.If you decide to defer your place, you will need to contact your university and ask if they will hold your place for another year. Gap years spent wisely can be an excellent way to gain life experience before you go to study again.
If you would like to get more advice about University choices or clearing you can find out more about how our team can help you here. 


We offer a wide range of services and expert advice on your child's education.
Email or contact Claire on 01865 522066 for an informal discussion on how we can help.
For more information visit

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Why Books are the Perfect Christmas Present

The holidays are coming up fast, and schools will soon be on their Christmas breaks. Even though many students have holiday work to complete – especially those with revision to do for spring exams - education can often take a back seat to make way for celebrations, friends and family. And those things are, of course, very important. But so is keeping young brains active and learning during the holidays. The best way to do this is to encourage them to read at every opportunity.

Reading is one of the simplest pleasures. 21st Century children are surrounded by technology – games consoles, television, tablets, mobile phones. Whilst the latest tech is sure to take pride of place at the top of your children’s Christmas wish list, don’t forget to wrap a few books up under the tree this year.

The benefits of reading in extending your child’s knowledge and understanding of literacy and vocabulary are certainly proven.  Not just for enjoyment, starting a life-long relationship with books is crucial for stretching the imagination, developing new interests and expanding knowledge. Instilling a wide vocabulary, comprehension and accurate spelling skills are essential benefits of reading, putting in place the foundations for success in education in the future. Not to mention reading brings hours of entertainment – it’s learning, without your children even noticing they’re doing it. It keeps their minds active and their imaginations running riot; engross them in a good book and you’ll find them desperate to sit quietly and get lost in those wonderful fictional worlds. Talk to them about what they’re reading and you’ll be amazed at how they can chat away like scholars about an amazing story.

Why not challenge your child to real a certain number of books over Christmas too? Perhaps they can tackle a novel longer than any they’ve read before, or try to read five or six short stories from a collection whilst you’re preparing Christmas dinner.

During family time, ask your child to read aloud to you. Share the reading with them – not just for the wonderful experience of reading with your child, but also to teach listening and public speaking skills. Discuss the meaning of words and their comprehension as you go along. You may find they’re ready to read above the level you’ve been pitching their book choices at.

Above all, it is important to make reading fun and accessible. Books should be displayed all around your home – the kitchen, bedrooms, living room, even the bathroom. Recent research has actually linked the number of books in your home directly to academic achievement (more on that here: so there are no excuses for not providing your children with as many books as you can.

Give them something fun this Christmas that also helps them learn. Books are a perfect Christmas present, because you’re helping your children grow academically, as well as emotionally, whilst also providing them long term entertainment to stimulate their minds in a way no technology could.

Looking for ideas on what to give them to read? We’ve got some recommendations below for children of all ages:

The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis
The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper
Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Graham
The Bear, The Snowman, both by Raymond Briggs
End of Term by Antonia Forest
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson
Mog’s Christmas Calamity by Judith Kerr
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
The Children of Green Knowe by Lucy Boston
Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken
Skellig, The Fire Eaters, both by David Almond
Coraline by Neil Gaiman
Inkheart by Cornelia Funke
Happy Hanukkah, Corduroy by Don Freeman
The Tiger in the Well by Philip Pullman
The Ghost of Thomas Kempe by Penelope Lively
Shadow by Michael Morpurgo
Percy Jackson by Rick Riodan
The Berenstain Bears and the Joy of Giving by Jan and Mike Berenstain
The Snow Goose by Paul Gallico
The Call of the Wild by Jack London
Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne-Jones
Blitz Boys by Linda Newberry
Rubies in the Snow by Date Hubbard
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Twas the Night Before Christmas by Rachel Isadora
Young Bond by Charlie Higson
Cat Royal by Julia Golding
Dream Snow by Eric Carle
Lionboy by Zizou Corder
Fancy Nancy: Splendiferous Christmas by Jane O’Connor
Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer
Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
Li’l Rabbit’s Kwanzaa by Donna L. Washington
The Alchemist by H. P. Lovecraft
The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
Forbidden Game by Malorie Blackman
Angel Pig and the Hidden Christmas by Jan L. Waldron
How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss
The Princess Bride by William Goldman
My True Love Game to Me by Stephanie Perkins
Olivia Helps With Christmas by Ian Falconer

Need childcare for the holidays and unsure about the options?

Our online store has guides on all areas of UK Education including financial aid, interview preparation and questions to ask on a school visit.


We offer a wide range of services and expert advice on your child's education.
Email or contact Claire on 01865 522066 for an informal discussion on how we can help.
For more information visit

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Some top tips for interviewing successfully for schools, universities and graduate jobs

It's an important time of year - young people all across the UK are preparing for interviews at senior schools, sixth forms, universities and graduate jobs. Below are a few of our top interview tips, whatever level you're studying at.

First impressions are important. That means your appearance, your greeting and your body language. Dress appropriately - if the interview is for a school place, dress smartly (students and accompanying parents) or in school uniform if needs be. If it is for university, be sure to show some individual flair, but keep it somewhat formal. For graduate jobs, dress formally - office wear or smart fashionable clothing depending on where you are interviewing. Keep good posture, a strong and positive handshake (but not bone crunching), make eye contact and remember to smile. 

Research the institution or company you wish to join. Appearing well-informed about what it offers and why that appeals to you will give a positive impression, but reading ahead will also help you to understand why it does appeal to you. What is it you like about that school, university or company? Give some thought to what skills and capabilities you are able to offer within the environment of each individual institution. What would you personally bring to the table that would impress? Have some examples at the ready which demonstrate contributions you have made in these areas in the past to back up your claims and be confident about your skills and achievements.

Who will be interviewing you? If you are notified in advance who will be conducting the interview, research their role and what their specific areas of interest might be. It is easier to engage with a person if you have identified some common ground. But remember to be truthful at all times too. You could get into a sticky area if you make a claim that you can’t back-up during discussion via in-depth knowledge or examples.

Back up every answer with a why, how or because. Just answering the question without stating why you have that opinion or giving examples of how you have previously used a skill or attribute within a relevant situation, is only half an answer. Having a full argument or explanation shows your knowledge, experience, but also that you have come well prepared for the day.

If you need time to think, ask the interviewer to repeat the question or perhaps ask a question of your own to clarify. This will buy a bit of time, putting the ball back into their court, giving you time to consider your answer. Always be prepared with a few questions to ask at the end in any case, as this is your best opportunity to find out more about the institution or company, and demonstrate your eagerness to be part of it. Good Luck!

If you are looking for help with senior school interviews or interviews for scholarships or bursaries, why not look at our digital guide on Interview Preparation? Available on our online store via the link below.

Our online store has guides on all areas of UK Education including financial aid, interview preparation and questions to ask on a school visit.


We offer a wide range of services and expert advice on your child's education. If you would like interview advice for sixth form, university or jobs, to book in a practice interview session with one of our experts or help with any other education questions you may have, email or contact Claire on 01865 522066 for an informal discussion on how we can help.
For more information visit

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Ten Top Financial Tips for Expats in China

1. Save 10% of your income
On an expat package it’s easy to spend all of your disposable income. Set up a savings account and direct 10% of your income before you spend it.

2. Keep updated with your pension(s)
When you’re far away from home you can lose track of your pensions. A suitably qualified financial adviser based in China can obtain up-to-date valuations on your behalf.

3. Explore international opportunities
When you are away from home, be aware that you have a wealth of global opportunities before you

4. Plan ahead for your children’s education
Many people under-estimate the cost of their children’s education. Children educated in International Schools will often choose to attend international universities. In addition, global education costs are inflating at around 7.5%. Set aside sufficient funds to cover your children’s future.

5. Consolidate your assets
Expats typically leave assets in several countries. Consolidate these so they are accessible to your loved ones in the event of something unexpected happening to you.

6. Review your will
What was appropriate at home may not be valid in China. Review your will with an expert in international law.

7. Don’t let RMB accumulate
Officially, RMB in Chinese banks is owned by the Chinese Government! Many banks place restrictions on the amount of RMB that can be taken out of the country in a year. Regularly transfer RMB into a currency that is matched to your long-term planning.

8. Open an offshore bank account
An offshore bank account offers many advantages to expats, including easy access to your money as you move around China and Asia

9. Plan both medium and long-term
The glamour and excitement of expat life offers immediate gratification. However, expat life also offers medium and long-term windows of opportunity. Whilst these might not be glamorous, don’t go home with nothing more than memories.

10. Consult a specialized financial adviser
Expats face a world of opportunities ranging from tax optimization to international planning. A good adviser will be aware of all your options, as well as the longer-term picture, including what happens when you return home or move to another location.

This guest post by:

Howard Whiteson
Senior Wealth Manager, DeVere Group

For complimentary initial planning contact Howard:
+86 156 9214 1599

If you are an expat or international parent looking to send your child to school in the UK, consider our digital guide on the UK Education System:

Our online store has guides on all areas of UK Education including financial aid, interview preparation and questions to ask on a school visit.


We offer a wide range of services and expert advice on your child's education.
Email or contact Claire on 01865 522066 for an informal discussion on how we can help.
For more information visit