In the course of my work as the University of Cambridge's Gender Equality Champion, I travel to many other universities to discuss what they are doing on the equality front. Sometimes I meet with Vice Chancellors and senior management, sometimes I meet the students and early career researchers.
Last week Ucas revealed a 4% rise in applications and over 87,000 more girls applying than boys, which got me thinking: are most schools still failing to inform their students about the alternatives to university and why are so many more girls applying to university than ever before?
Keep calm and breath. It is a new year, new term and exams. How do you prepare? Failing to plan is a plan to fail, rule number one. In your new term are you preparing for exams and looking forward to them? You should be. You know more now than you did before the Christmas break.
College years are often some of the most memorable, and quite rightly so, as you learn more about others but also yourself. Enjoy your college years to the maximum, but at the same time, be sure to keep your eyes on the prize!
It is an urban myth, doubtless begun by lairy FE tutors, that A-levels are the hardest, most challenging qualifications you will attempt as a student. I'm not sure how this conclusion has been reached, but let me assure any doubters: it is completely false.
I don't use either of the degrees in my everyday work, and I remember hardly any of the information I studied so hard, and even less of it is ever useful. However, my year 12 marks got me into uni, and those two degrees still get me all sorts of unrelated jobs, along with a highly embellished resume.
The challenge now is for schools, universities, business and Government join us in making sure that the potential engineers of the future are informed, without prejudice, of all the opportunities available to them. We need to work together to provide the advice and support all young people need to make informed decisions at an early age.
Here are my suggestions on what to do with the next year. Take a step back and really think about what you want from the next 40 years of work. It's a long time to be doing anything, so don't rush it. Surround yourself with people and things that inspire you. Learn everything you can.
I chose to do the marine wildlife conservation project in Madagascar because not only do I want to work as a marine biologist in the future but being a qualified diver already and having a natural love for the ocean, I knew that I wanted to spend my summer working on it!
Recent reports that GCSEs and A-levels will be taken online within the next ten years have sparked an industry wide debate. David Hancock, chief executive of the Independent Association of Prep Schools, argued that an online model could replace the 'deeply flawed' system the UK has in place today.