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Oxford Scholastica Academy

Got a teen craving advice on A-Levels / uni, or pizzazz for their UCAS form? Check out these online courses and internships: a mix of Oxford excellence with future-focused learning.

WHAT?

Along with the hugely successful trad summer schools, running since 2013, Oxford Scholastica Academy (OSA) has now expanded its formidable online offering. 

Matching the benefits of the summer camps, but with the added advantage that they can be completed anywhere, these online programmes are the perfect solution to a teen’s long summer holidays. OSA also offers continued support, so if you’re worried about your teen’s UCAS application and the increasingly competitive university landscape, this is, frankly, music to your ears.

So, rather than a crammer, it’s actually about helping kids choose GCSE, A-Level or Degree courses, get ahead with applications, and make up their minds about future careers. For those of us fobbed off by disinterested careers advisors at schools, this is frankly So. Flippin. Useful.

The online courses allow students from all over the globe to master their subject, gain clarity about their future, and prepare for a changing world — all while experiencing rigorous teaching. Classes are small — with a maximum of 10 — and they’ll learn about their subject through discussion, research and debates. 

Per day, students get two hours of live contact time plus independent study to maximise their learning — the focus is on creating that top-end uni vibe. With one and two week courses throughout the year, it’s a pretty amazing opportunity to get the much-coveted Oxford experience from anywhere. Courses are also supplemented with Masterclasses, delivering transferable life skills in topics such as leadership, debating, and social impact.

Maximum class size is 10 but most groups have six to eight students – no dozing at the back then. Sessions are led by a mix of lecturers, former or current teachers, mature students studying for masters and doctorates, and very occasionally, third and fourth-year undergraduates. Before you balk at the thought of your 22-year-old self educating the next generation of bright young things, the tutors have gone through a rigorous application process, training and safeguarding course, and DBS check, and many use it as a leg-up into teaching as a profession.

In total OSA has welcomed over 3000 students from over 85 countries, and there is an increasingly large uptake from the UK, where parents are recognising the value in super-curricular programmes to secure places at top-end unis.

OSA has also launched two new online offerings: OxBright, and a unique internship programme (see below for more info).

ACADEMIC ONLINE COURSES

Students aged 12-14 can choose from courses in Business, Medicine, Politics & Debate, and Technology, while 15-18 year olds have a choice of Business & Enterprise; Computer Science & Coding; Creative Writing; Economics; Engineering; International Relations, Politics & Debate; Law; Medicine and Psychology & Neuroscience.

This is a chance to test out a career path or degree subject and have experiences in that arena. Students come away with a fresh perspective on subjects, new skills like debating or critical discussion, as well as less tangible benefits such as boosted confidence. By all accounts, it’s the opportunity to have something to differentiate them when it comes to interviews and UCAS that the kids I spoke to value most.

All of the students on the online courses leave with a Certificate and a Letter of Recommendation outlining the areas they have studied, evaluating their work and any recommendations. Oxford Scholastica can even provide personalised reading and resource lists to help students get ahead – it’s this continuing support that makes Oxford Scholastica Online so valuable.

INTERNSHIPS

Oxford Scholastica now offers unique Academic Research Internships, a real opportunity to experience high-level research and even get an academic paper published in OxJournal. Now that’s exactly the kind of thing that stands out on those applications!

The Academic Research Internship is available in a variety of subjects, including Economics, Law, Medicine and Psychology & Neuroscience. These programmes run on Saturdays throughout the year, just in case your teen wasn’t already busy enough in term-time! These programmes will allow your teen to work with an academic researcher at the cutting edge of their field; they’ll collaborate with fellow interns to research and co-author an academic paper, all with the support of a Mentor. This is a fantastic opportunity that mirrors the dissertation writing process that’s integral in so many uni courses, and a real taste of how top-notch universities operate.

OXBRIGHT

Let’s be real: in today’s world, good grades aren’t enough. So the burning question is, how can you ensure your teens stand out from the crowd? Well, OxBright is a pretty decent place to start.

By taking them beyond the school curriculum, and stretching their subject ability, OxBright helps young people to stand out in their future university applications. The programme is made up of live and on-demand subject specific support for 15 – 18 year olds, all with the aim of exposing them to new areas of their field, increasing their academic confidence, and preparing them for university-level study.

How does it work? It’s essentially an academic club dedicated to a specific subject. Led by a Mentor (a subject expert undergraduate or graduate from a leading university), kids get a subject-specific tutorial with the group once a week. These are discussion-based, interactive sessions, which are designed to challenge students in a supportive environment. Outside the weekly tutorial there are blogs, vlogs, podcasts, book clubs and more. There’s even a special platform to keep in contact with Mentors and post comments about reading between sessions. Like if Facebook were really about books…

THE HEAD

OSA was launched by Jamie and Sophie Dear who studied at Oxford University and oversee various initiatives around education and mentoring in addition to the summer school. They are clearly passionate about levelling the playing field and nurturing talent. Their mission is to give students the edge to help them succeed, find their purpose and make a difference in the world.

QUIRKS

The goal of OSA is to further the academic ambitions of students – and their parents – but it’s not a simple crammer set up. There is a big emphasis on social enterprise and the ways students can give back. There’s also a genuine desire to give kids the time and space to explore subjects and careers that are well beyond the remit of their own schools or families.  

The OSA courses tend to suit a certain kind of kid – high achiever with a good work ethic, though the kids I spoke to were not all go-getting super geeks. For those considering Medicine and Law or those who just want help deciding on A-Levels, those that want continued support to strive for the best leading uni places, or to whom a sporty summer camp sounds like absolute hell, this is a winner.

FEES

The online courses start at £595 for one week or £995 for two. Then, OxBright membership costs from £95 a month (£995 for the year), and Online Internships are from £995 for a month-long Internship.

The traditional residential courses are, shall we say, definitely an investment in your kids! These start at £5,495 for a two-week residential and £10,690 for the four-weeker.

WORD ON THE GROUND

Oxford Scholastica

In a world where getting into good universities is getting tougher, these courses give a winning addition to a personal statement or something to elaborate on over an interview. Students on the Internships gain experience of co-authoring an academic research paper – that’s really going to set them apart come interview time.

The reviews and platitudes on the site are impressive as are the profiles on some of its stellar alumni. There are plenty of students who come back for courses in subsequent years and whose siblings also attend, so repeat bookings must be a good sign.

The international diversity is a big boon for students, who will have a global address book and an understanding of kids from a variety of cultures by the end of their course. They’re notching up life experience as well as brain cells.

THE MUDDY VERDICT

Oxford Scholastica 2

Good for: Kids who are capable of independent study and organisation. Students will get the most out of the courses by good communication with Mentors and Tutors between sessions, and by making the most out of a diverse academic community. Also good for shy kids to develop their confidence in a safe academic sphere.

Not for: Kids who struggle academically and need a lot of carrot and/or stick. Also not suited to bubble-wrap parents who might find the independence given to their 12-year-old little darling somewhat daunting.

Dare to disagree? Add your comments below or check out more details for yourself at Oxford Scholastica Academy

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