Study advice

Getting the most from tutoring

By | Career coaching, Study advice | No Comments

The tutoring industry is burgeoning but how can you tell a good tutor from a bad one? And how can you make sure your child gets the most from the sessions? Natalie Lancer from MyUniApplication asks Leah Warren, Director of Watling Tutors ( all about it.

One way to tell a good tutor, says Leah, is from the types of questions they ask about your child. They should ask what level they are working at and what is being covered at school. It may not be necessary to spend the entire first session doing a ‘strengths and weaknesses’ assessment; instead, your tutor should ask to see examples of work, which you could scan and send to the tutor in advance. They need to have a clear grasp of what your child is struggling with in order to create a bespoke work plan to help your child.

It is important that the tutor is familiar with your exam board’s specification as different exam boards have different expectations.  For students going for an A* at A-level, make sure the tutor knows how to move from an A to A* answers. Leah explains that for English, this would mean introducing the student to a wide variety of texts and criticism. Similarly, make sure the tutor knows how to move the student to a Level 9 for GCSE.

If the school are not setting enough homework to develop your child’s skills then encourage your tutor to set work every session. To get the most from the tutoring sessions, encourage your child to do the homework and look at it as a formative exercise, i.e. it helps the student identify with what they need further help.

Don’t be afraid to ask the tutor about their track record, but do be aware it’s not all about A*s – it’s about the value they have added. For a student projected to get an E, a B grade is a massive achievement, more so than moving from an A to an A*. Ask for references and other parents’ testimonials about the tutor.

It is important that tutoring is a positive experience for your child. Check there is rapport between the tutor and student. Of course, verify the tutor is DBS checked. The tutoring session should be a safe space where the student can feel they can ask any questions and be supported.  Until the student is 8 or 9, they can probably only concentrate for 40 minutes. Beyond this age, one hour works well. Make sure the tutoring takes place in a quiet place, away from any interruptions. Also, in each session, the tutor should give clear direction to the student about how to move forward. This might mean they give notes, examples or set things to learn. Older students shouldn’t be afraid to be clear with their tutors about what they do and don’t understand and what methods help them learn.

It is important to cultivate an open relationship with the school, teacher, parent and tutor – tutoring does not need to be a secret. Remember, we all want the best for your child. When the teacher writes a report on your child’s progress, it would be helpful to show this to the tutor so they can address points directly.

Natalie Lancer is an expert in mentoring students and can advise on GCSE and A-level subject choice, UCAS personal statements and interview technique. For more information, contact Natalie Lancer at or on 07747 612 513.;


How to sell yourself when your work experience is limited

By | Career coaching, Study advice

A frustrating cycle exists when young people apply for internships and work experience: you have to submit a CV and demonstrate experience but the young people haven’t had any work experience yet – that is why they are applying for it now! Natalie Lancer from and MyUniApplication explains how to overcome this situation.

Most people know how to write a CV and, indeed, there are many pro formas on the internet one can use. The issue isn’t what format to use, however, but what to put on it, as for most young people, it will look fairly sparse. In fact, there are different types of CV. The chronological CV is where jobs are listed most recent first and is the CV most people are familiar with. This is the CV to avoid for students as they haven’t had enough (or any) jobs to list. The skills (or ‘functional’) CV is the one that is the best for students as it draws attention to skills that have been developed rather than jobs.

Skills can be developed in many ways including during school projects, by participating in extra-curricular activities such as the Duke of Edinburgh Award, attending youth groups, by way of independent study, volunteering experience, hobbies and travelling abroad. I advise students to think about what skills they have, such as IT, interpersonal, analytical, numerical skills, team work, leadership, organisational, creativity etc. Then list the ways they have evidenced this. For example, maybe they were part of a sports team, or were team captain which demonstrates teamwork and leadership skills. Maybe they have written for the school newspaper, created or updated websites or made some “How to…” YouTube videos which potentially demonstrates communication, writing, IT and presentational skills. The “Key Skills” list should form the bulk of the first page of the CV, the second being occupied by Employment History (which can include any work experience or jobs such as babysitting), and Education and Qualifications.

Potential employers take about 2 seconds to decide if a CV goes on the ‘yes’ or the ‘no’ pile. There is therefore evidently an advantage of putting key skills at the beginning – the employer is wowed straight away by your skills, and the thought that went into your CV. It is important to note that you will need to tweak your CV for each job/internship you apply for, making sure your skills marry up to those they are looking for. For each CV, focus on five or six relevant key skills. If you find that your skills do not match those that are required, find ways of boosting your skillset, such as undertaking voluntary work or getting involved in more activities, either in or out of school. Demonstrating that you are an interesting person who participates in what life has to offer, makes you an interesting candidate to employers. A focus on your skills will also give the employer a sense of your personality and what makes you an individual.

Other tips are not to include your date of birth – employers may well be looking for expertise rather than experience. Make sure your email address is sensible – create a new one if necessary. Limit your CV to two pages and make sure there are no typos or grammatical errors.

Natalie is the founder of and MyUniApplication. She can help you create a winning CV and cover letter and give you expert guidance on your A-level choice, university applications, Personal Statement, interviews and dissertations. She also offers personal development sessions. For more information, contact Natalie Lancer on 07747 612 513 or at

Natalie’s top tips on writing a CV for young people:

  • Spend some time thinking about your key skills and your evidence for them
  • If you haven’t got many skills, develop some by participating in activities, volunteering etc
  • Update your CV every time you do more work experience/get a job
  • Check your CV thoroughly for spelling and grammatical mistakes
  • Speak to a specialist for advice about which skills to emphasise and how to showcase them, as well as overall guidance for your CV.



Maximising your success in Years 10-13

By | Schools subjects advice, Study advice, University advice, University student's advice

Success at GCSEs and A-levels is important as it will give you a wide choice in your next level of education. School starts to get more serious when you are preparing for these Public Examinations, and so you may be entering Years 11-13 with some trepidation. In order to maximise your success, Natalie Lancer, from and MyUniApplication offers some advice.

Preparation for public examinations is a marathon, not a sprint. This is especially true for students commencing the new linear A-levels, where you are assessed on the whole course at the end of the two years, rather than at the end of Year 12. Therefore, it is important to work consistently from the beginning, making sure you understand each topic as you go along. Take time at the end of each week to reread your notes and arrange to see your teacher to go over anything you do not understand. Then, make new notes based on your new understanding which you will be able to reread as you near revision. You want to be able to revise topics that you already understand (and have the notes for) rather than learning something afresh, as this will take up valuable time. Make sure your keep your notes in order with clear divisions between topics so that you can refer to them easily – perhaps in a lever arch file or on your computer – and so that you do not waste time organising your notes when you revise.

It is important to get the most out of your lessons. This means that you need to actively participate and engage with your teacher and classmates. Make sure you ask questions in class if you want clarification – you will not look silly! – chances are your classmates will want to know the answer too.

Equip yourself with the correct stationery (folders, highlighters etc) and also invest in some exam board-specific revision guides and text books. These books have been written specifically for your syllabus and so you can be confident that the information they contain will be relevant. It is very helpful to consult different books as you go along – some books are better than others at explaining different topics. Furthermore, revision guides are concise and useful if you want to read ahead so that you can get the most out of your lessons. However, for revision, use these in conjunction with your own class notes and other text books as they are not detailed enough on their own.

Make sure you revise actively by writing out flashcards and reading notes with a pen in your hand – underlining key concepts. Above all, practise past or specimen exam papers (you can download them from the exam board’s website). Use the mark schemes to assess your knowledge and, just as importantly, to see how the examiners expect you to express that knowledge. You could also try working with your classmates. Each member of your revision group should research their allocated topic and then teach it to the rest of the group, perhaps swapping detailed notes.  Explaining the topic and discussing it with someone else will enrich your understanding.

The significance of Years 10-13 in terms of exams may make you feel stressed and it is important to nip this in the bud. Air any concerns with your teachers or Head of Year who will help you manage your workload and give you strategies to reduce stress. One way of doing this is to make sure that you have things to focus on other than work – get involved in clubs and societies, sports, music, volunteering or leadership programmes, both in and out of school. Not only will this provide a welcome break but you will learn new skills and get to know and interact with different people. These skills are just as important for your career and development as your academic work.

Natalie is the founder of and MyUniApplication. She can help you create a winning CV and cover letter and give you expert guidance on your A-level choice, university applications, Personal Statement, interviews and dissertations. She also offers personal development sessions. For more information, contact Natalie Lancer on 07747 612 513 or at

Natalie’s top tips on maximising your success in Years 10-13:

  • Make sure you understand each topic as you go along and don’t be afraid to ask your teachers for help
  • Keep your notes in an organised fashion from the beginning
  • Buy exam-board specific study guides so that you can get a different perspective on topics you don’t understand
  • Experiment with different revision techniques, finding the ones that work for you
  • Speak to a professional for tailored advice about studying, careers and your personal development


Helping Your Child Cope with Exam Stress

By | Coaching in Education, Schools subjects advice, Study advice

Stress is an inevitable part of preparing for exams – indeed an optimum amount of stress will propel your child to study harder and be enabled to write and think faster in the actual exam.  The key, as a parent, is for you to remain calm and to support your child through this period by encouragement – and definitely not to add unnecessary stress (even if you are stressed by their exams).

Some basic ways to support your child include allocating a specific quiet and light space for them to work in. Keep other siblings away from them and don’t burden them with household chores (the state of their bedroom is not a relevant topic of conversation during exam season).  Make sure you provide healthy meals for them. Every couple of hours you could bring a drink and snack to your child.

Remember these are your child’s exams – not yours. You do not have to micromanage them and such an approach will not help develop your child’s revision abilities. Of course, do take an interest in their exams, for example , make sure you know what exam is on which day, and offer your child a lift if possible.

Stress is generated from a feeling of a lack of control and a lack of confidence in one’s own abilities. Confidence grows by being able to see that one is succeeding. A successful day of revision will breed another successful day of revision, so put in place these strategies early – six months before the exam season. You can help your child feel in control of their revision by suggesting that they construct a revision timetable – mapping out the number of days until the exam season which can be realistically used for revision, and dividing each two hour block into a segment of revision of a specific topic e.g. French irregular verbs, rather than a generic “French”. Ensure all topics are covered – use the syllabus which can be found on line and tick off the topics as they are allocated. You can keep a copy of your child’s revision timetable and ask how the revision of a specific topic is going every so often (no more than three times a week!). Furthermore, in advance of revision time, make sure your child is well-stocked with stationery such as highlighters, paper and files. Ask your child if they would like you to buy revision guides for them (a summary book of the main topics, often written by examiners for the specific exam board). Offer to print off past papers and mark schemes which can all be found on-line – working through these is an invaluable source of revision. It is not cheating to look at mark schemes – indeed it is important to know how the examiners “want” the question to be answered. It is important that your child is aware of the structure of each exam – how many questions need to be answered, how many minutes they should allocate to each question, whether there is a choice of questions and so on. You can help your child to work out these logistics.

The time to be firm is when it comes to using the computer or mobile phones. I suggest removing these from your child while they are revising. Your child should focus on revision for 40 minutes at a time and then have a 15 minute break. Encourage them to get some fresh air during their break and give their phone back for them to catch up on Instagram or Facebook, but then take it away again during the next 40 minutes. Allow your child to go out once a week for a couple of hours, eg to the cinema, but this is not the time for partying and sleepovers. By discussing these ground rules in advance, you can establish what will work for your child together and help them feel in control and understand that you are supporting them.

Above all, remind your child (and yourself) that exams are not the be all and end all. Tell your child that you will love them no matter what the result, and that all you ask is that they do the best they can. In return, you will do the best you can to support them. It is beneficial to sit down with your child to explain why doing the best they can in these exams is important – such as increased career prospects in later years. Your child has nothing to lose by revising, and everything to gain. The revision and exam period is finite, and remind your child it will soon be over, and all the things they were not able to do – such as see friends as much – they can do in abundance in the summer holidays.

Natalie Lancer is an education expert and founder of and MyUniApplication. She can give you expert guidance on revision strategies and study skills, A-level choice, university applications and the Personal Statement. She also offers personal development sessions for adults. For more information, contact Natalie Lancer on 07747 612 513 or at

Natalie’s top tips on managing exam stress

  • Help your child construct a revision timetable so they are in control of their revision
  • Buy study guides and print out past papers and mark schemes for your child
  • Don’t keep asking them how revision is going – limit this to three times a week
  • Make healthy meals and snacks for your child, exempt them from any chores and keep other children away
  • Speak to a revision specialist for practical advice on study skills and supporting your child


The Importance of Extra-Curricular Activities

By | Coaching in Education, Schools subjects advice, Study advice | No Comments

Extra-curricular activities have been an integral part of school for a long time. As well as helping children develop life-long interests in the activities themselves, they also foster important soft skills, for example, taking part in sports may promote perseverance, resilience and grit as well as team-work. These soft skills are highly prized by businesses and also by universities, as exemplified by the selection criteria to study Medicine at the University of Oxford, which includes “ability to work with others”, “communication” and “empathy” as personal characteristics that are sought in applicants. These activities and skills should be showcased in the Personal Statement and Reference, parts of the university application, as well as your CV or, perhaps, an e-portfolio.

Different university courses require different skills, as well as specific grades in A-level subjects. The non-academic requirements for undergraduate Law at King’s College London state that the admissions tutors are looking for “applicants who have participated as fully as possible in school, college or community life, making the most of the opportunities available to them and also demonstrated some experience of society beyond their immediate environment”. There are many reasons why universities like to recruit students who excel in the extra-curricular: they hope that the candidate will contribute to the life of the university, the student has already demonstrated commitment and tenacity – skills that can be transferred to their course and they make for more interesting students to teach.

From a school’s perspective, a child’s whole education is important and extra-curricular activities are a way of allowing students of all abilities to develop and explore their interests: a vital part of their personal growth. It is during their formative years, that children’s inner template of the world develops, and encouraging students to volunteer in the community during their school years, for example, will imbue them with the value of such activities in later life. At the more instrumental part of the spectrum, in this competitive world, if two candidates have the same grades at A-level or degree level, extra-curricular involvement can be a way to distinguish between the two candidates and can also contribute to the student’s USP (Unique Selling Point) i.e. why they should be chosen and how they can add value to the organisation.

There are many activities in which students can get involved, both in and out of school: the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, Young Enterprise, volunteering (there are numerous organisations that can facilitate this such as the Jewish Volunteering Network and Do-it) at local old age homes, St John Ambulance, work experience, mentoring younger students, language exchanges, school clubs and societies, such as Debating, and youth groups to name but a few. Furthermore, to demonstrate initiative, the student can set up their own club or society, such as starting a school newspaper or organising a fundraising event.

Of course, there is a danger in taking on too much – it is just as important not to “burn out” and to make time for leisure. Also, make sure enough time is made for academic studies, the results of which also open the doors to employment and university. In order to get the balance right, it may be a good idea to have “personal development” conversations with your children to both encourage them to participate but also to prioritise which skills they would like to develop, so that their extra-curricular engagement is focussed. Possible skills to develop include initiative, creativity, interpersonal and organisational skills, leadership, sense of responsibility, teamwork, public speaking, time management and research.  You might want to work backwards and consider which skills are vital to demonstrate for a particular university or employment route.  Alternatively, if career plans are vague, just encourage your child to try out a variety of activities to find out where their strengths lie, which may result in clearer career ideas.

Students are at an exploratory stage of their life, and they might find that the activity they start does not suit them. It is then possible to discuss either stopping this activity or finding a way to persevere in a positive way, if there is good reason to do so. You may find it difficult to speak to your teenager about their personal development, in which case, call in the services of a professional.

Natalie Lancer is a personal development expert and founder of and MyUniApplication. She can give you expert guidance on extra-curricular activities, A-level choice, university applications and the Personal Statement. She also offers personal development sessions for adults. For more information, contact Natalie Lancer on 07747 612 513 or at

Natalie’s top tips on extra-curricular activities

  • Decide what skills you would like to develop and think about which extra-curricular activities would strengthen these
  • If an activity doesn’t work out, consider if there is a different way to approach it or whether you should stop that one, and take up something else
  • Make time for leisure and studies as well as your extra-curricular activities
  • Start researching universities courses/employment routes early to give yourself enough time to make an informed decision about which skills to evidence
  • Speak to a personal development professional for impartial and current advice

A result! How to get your university of choice

By | Coaching in Education, Study advice, University advice

How did A-Level results day go for you yesterday? If you met the conditions of your offer, your first choice will have accepted you, of course. But it may be that you exceeded your offer and you would like to consider doing a different course. You have up to five days to swap on to another, without your original place being jeopardised, using the process of Adjustment in UCAS. However, many courses requiring higher grades will be full.

If you didn’t meet the offer of your “firm” choice, your “insurance” choice will have accepted you — if you met theirs. But do you want to take up your insurance place? Some students think about re-sitting exams, but many universities accept only results that were gained over two years of study, not ‘three, so do check to see if there is any point in this strategy.

If you feel that your exam results don’t reflect your actual performance in the exam, it may be a good idea to get your papers re-marked. Your school will arrange this for you. It is important to realise that your exam results may go up or down as a result of a re-mark and so you should only request a re-mark if you are sure you feel you deserved more.

The re-mark can take up to 18 days depending on the exam board. However, even if the re-mark meets the university offer, that university may still not be able to give you a place. But it may offer you one on a similar course or the one you want the following year. To maximise your chances, let your university know that you are having the exam re-marked and notify it of any grade changes by August 31.

If your grades do change for the bet-ter and you have accepted your insurance offer or another offer in Clearing, you will have to ask the university to release you so that you can accept-your original offer.

Some universities will accept you even if you missed a grade. When you log into Track on UCAS, you may see that your chosen university has con-firmed your place, despite your lower grades. If not, you may need to call to negotiate your place. It may be that the university cannot allow you on to your preferred course but that there are others on which it would be happy to offer you a place.

You can also shop around via Clearing, the process universities use to advertise and fill their spare places. The list of unfilled places is on the UCAS website and published in The Telegraph. Places available change daily, so keep checking. Phone the universities in which you are interested; tell them your grades and see if they will give you a place. You may be inter-viewed over the phone by an admissions tutor.

Are you flexible about what course you study as long as you go to your chosen university, or would rather see if other universities can offer you a place on a similar course? You are not limited to the subject for which you originally applied, as long as you meet the entrance requirements for the course you are now applying for. Your nerves are bound to be on edge, so get some support. UCAS offers free advice and your teachers can help too.

In most cases, getting a good degree is what is important. The subject may be of less relevance, depending on the field you want to go into. That said, to get a good degree (normally a 2:1 or above), you need to be able to remain interested and motivated for the whole of your course, so don’t take a place on a course if you are not really inspired by the subject.

Natalie Lancer is the founder of and MyUniApplication


  • Make sure you have access to a quiet room with a reliable phone and internet connection
  • Ask for a re-mark if you think your grade could go up but be aware it may go down
  • Inform your university what is happening about your re-mark to maximise your chances of them holding a place for you
  • Find out what courses are available on Clearing and consider a variety of options
  • Don’t make any decisions lightly—speak to a university guidance specialist


New Sixth Former’s Survival Guide

By | Coaching in Education, Schools subjects advice, Study advice

It is October. New Year 12s have now spent a month in the Sixth Form. Having negotiated their way through the new dress code and enjoyed lounging on the comfy sofas in the Common Room, it’s time to get down to work.

So how can you maximise your potential in the Sixth Form? I interviewed some former pupils to see what gems they could pass on to their successors.

Tamsin highlights the importance of choosing subjects you enjoy. A-levels require so much in-depth study and this will become a slog if you do not have an interest in your subject. Even at this stage, it is not too late to change if you have made a mistake. “I know someone who made quite a big change from Chemistry to English A-level, and they never looked back. In fact, they are going to study English at university”, she says. However, subjects should not be changed on a whim. It is important to speak to the teachers and to look at the textbooks for your proposed subject. Make any changes with an informed approach.

Adam emphasises the ‘jump’ from GCSE to A-level. It may have been possible to get by at GCSE without too much work, but at A-level this approach is untenable. Each A-level syllabus is larger and harder than at GCSE and takes longer to understand and analyse. She advises to “prepare well for your weekly tests as otherwise you will have too much to revise all at once at a later date. The course information simply cannot be crammed.”

Homework can take several hours a night and it is important to plan your week to make sure you do not have an unmanageable work load. Many subjects have a coursework component, which can take the strain off doing examinations, but coursework has its own pitfalls. Often, coursework deadlines for different subjects coincide with each other, making planning a necessity; coursework can represent a major part of your final grade and must not be rushed. If you have a problem meeting your deadlines or feel you are falling behind, Daniel advises approaching your teachers, “They won’t think you weren’t listening if you ask a question, and they want you to do well”, she says.

“Get involved in extra-curricular activities, as not only do they look good on your personal statement (part of the UCAS application form) but they give you a break from academic study”, says Tamar. She also suggests looking into universities and prospective courses early. Tamar continues, “It takes a long time to establish which of the many courses on offer are ideal for you and, for new subjects, you need the time to read up about it in order to know if you are interested in them. It is also a good idea to see a careers adviser if you are stuck. They may suggest things that you didn’t know existed!”.

Natalie Lancer is the founder of and She can give you expert guidance on A-level choice, university applications (UK and US) and the Personal Statement.

For more information, contact Natalie Lancer on 07747 612 513 or at

Natalie’s top tips for maximising your potential in the Sixth Form

  • Check you know what your chosen A-levels entail by speaking to teachers and reading sections of relevant text books.
  • If you think you have made the wrong choice, seriously consider changing subject – you should maximise your chances of getting good grades
  • Plan your weekly work schedule to make sure you do not rush coursework or test preparation
  • Start researching universities and courses early to give yourself enough time to make an informed decision
  • Speak to a professional about A-level and university subject choices


Just can’t be bothered to study?

By | Coaching in Education, Study advice

Knuckling down to study is a problem that affects all students from time to time. Putting off work until the next day is a common problem. This usually results in further procrastination, an impossible work load and at worst, underachieving in exams.

I have been helping students to overcome this problem for many years. Techniques include big picture analysis as well as small changes to study routines. You may be working towards your GCSEs, A-levels or degree. The first question to ask yourself is why it is important to get your qualification. Is it to lead to a particular job or to get onto a new course? Are you really committed to making your career dreams a reality? If the answer is yes, then you need to put in the hard work – today. Achieving your goals cannot be jeopardised. Draw yourself a flowchart illustrating where you want to end up, the stages needed to get there, and where you are now.  Then pin this on your wall.

It is very easy to feel directionless and it can become increasingly difficult to motivate yourself to study. If this resonates with you, it is important to speak to others, and to seek their advice about the options available and how you can play to your strengths. Many people end up on courses or in careers that are inappropriate for them, which ultimately make them unhappy. Having invested so much time into getting there, they are unwilling to change. A good way of getting some direction is to undertake some work experience. It is invaluable for analysing what sorts of jobs and work environments you do not like as well as what you do. School or university holidays are ideal for this as you can dedicate some time to finding out about the company or profession. But beware – companies are inundated with requests for work experience.  You will need a good covering letter to save your application from the bin, and you will need to arrange the opportunity several months in advance.

Even if you are motivated to study, the myriad of distractions – facebook, TV, mobile phones to name but a few – are enough to throw even the most diligent student off course. The best way to succeed is to treat your studies like a job, with fixed hours and a fixed work space. Make sure you are at your desk by 9am, give yourself a limited lunch break, and you can clock off at 5pm. Every hour, give yourself a ten minute break and then get back to work. Your desk should have everything on it you need, such as pens, highlighters, files, calculator and a dictionary. Make sure you have good lighting in your room and a window open. TVs need to be unplugged and mobile phones switched off. Do not log onto the internet unless it is absolutely necessary for your work. Friends and family will understand that you need to be incommunicado in order to apply yourself to your work. By concentrating only on your work, you will get it done quicker and it will be of a higher quality.

Goal-setting is very important. Set yourself daily goals and write it down in your diary or on a timetable. Tasks need to be specific such as finishing a piece of coursework or revising for a particular test. You also need to write a monthly plan so that you ensure you cover all necessary work. If you are revising for important examinations, make sure you have a copy of the syllabus (available from your examination board’s website) and copies of past papers and mark schemes. Time should be set aside to attempt these and to mark them yourself. This will not only give you practice answering questions, but also will help familiarise you to the format and structure of the examination, and give you a sense of how much time should be spent on each question or topic area.

Students often spend vast amounts of time writing out revision notes again and again, but time is better spent actively learning the content. Techniques include using mnemonics (where the first letter of a word stands for a point in the notes you are learning) or imagining the facts as parts of a picture that can be recalled. Both of these methods reduce the likelihood of your mind going blank in the exam. Teaching the topic to somebody else, whether it be your study buddy or an old teddy bear, is also an excellent way of making sure you understand the material. By speaking aloud, you are using more than one sense which means that you have more chance of taking in the information.

For more information contact Natalie Lancer on 020 8211 4800 or at Natalie is the founder of

Natalie can:

  • discuss your university and career options in one-to-one sessions
  • construct a step-by-step plan to realise your goals, using a flowchart as a focal point
  • help organise a work placement for you to undertake in the school holidays
  • develop your study skills using techniques such as mnemonics
  • improve your study habits
  • prepare you for job and university interviews
  • enhance your CV, covering letters and UCAS personal statement


Natalie’s top tips for exam success

  • Treat studying like a job, with a specific start and finish time
  • Unplug your TV and turn off your mobile phone in your work space
  • Consider why you are working towards your qualifications
  • Set yourself daily goals broken down into specific tasks
  • Speak to a careers professional about your goals and ambitions
  • Check that you are maximising your study time, using efficient and active methods


Will you stretch to university?

By | Coaching in Education, Study advice

The last few months have seen many changes to the funding and finances of higher education. The changes will take effect from September 2012 so will affect current Year 12s going into Year 13 this September. The media have succeeded in scaremongering, making many students wonder if they can afford to go to university. The answer is unequivocally – yes. Let’s go through the maths.

There are two main sets of costs associated with going to university. Firstly, there are tuition fees which are set by the university. Under the new arrangements universities in England will be able to charge up to £9,000 per year for their courses. Universities which charge the maximum fee will have to guarantee an extensive range of bursaries and scholarships, helping more people from low-income families to access their courses. The exact details of these schemes will be publicised on each university’s website. The total cost of tuition fees will depend on the length of your course, so if you study at a university that charges £9,000 per annum and study a course such as medicine which is five years long, you will pay a total of £45,000 in fees. However, none of this payment is taken upfront. The Government will pay it directly to the university on your behalf, and you will have to pay the Government back once you have an income above a certain level. It used to be the case that only full time student fees were treated in this way but, subject to parliamentary approval, students on part-time courses will also be able to pay their tuition fees after they graduate.

The other large costs associated with university are living costs. Living cost loans are available from the government. You are eligible for up to £5,500 if you live away from home and go to a university outside London, £7,675 if you live away from home and study in London and £4,375 if you live at home. You may also be eligible for living cost grants which you would not have to repay if your household income is below a certain level (under £25,000, you get £3,250 and under £42,600 you get a proportion of this). In addition, if you are disabled or have children, you are entitled to benefits from the Department of Work and Pensions. Universities also have Access to Learning Funds, an additional source of finance that they can either give or loan to students in emergencies or in times of hardship. It is worth contacting the administrative offices of universities in which you are interested to find out what is on offer. The Student Union in each university can also provide a wealth of knowledge and may have access to further funds.

You start repaying the loan from the April after you graduate, and then only if you earn £21,000 per annum or more. If you meet this criterion, then your repayments will be calculated as 9% of the part of your earnings that is above £21,000. The repayments will be taken automatically out of your monthly salary. Unfortunately – as with any other loan – your repayments will also include an element of interest. Under the planned new arrangements, interest on the loan will be charged at 3% plus inflation (RPI) while you are at university. After you leave university, the rate of interest will vary on a sliding scale in line with your earnings. Interest will continue to accrue at the rate of inflation plus 3% per annum for high earners (those paid over £41,000) but being kept no greater than the rate of inflation for those earning below £21,000. Any outstanding debt would be written off after thirty years.

When you do the sums, it is clear that most future graduates will begin their working life with significant levels of debt. Just how much will depend on where you study and for how long. For those whose degree leads to a lucrative career, the long term benefits will outweigh the initial costs of paying more for their education. Many of the traditional professions are now all but inaccessible for those without a university education, and in spite of the economic downtown, salaries for many new graduates remain high. In fact, several companies, such as GlaxoSmithKline, have announced that they will pay student fees of up to £27,000 for graduates on their training schemes providing that the employee stays with the company for a minimum time period. However, many prospective students and their families will be left wondering if accruing this level of debt is worth it. Aside from the economics, perhaps it is important that the other benefits of going to university are kept in mind. Your whole life, mindset and opportunities could change, not to mention the personal and social development that occurs during those formative years.

All of this means that choosing the right course and landing a good job after university will become even more important in the future. Competition for the top courses and jobs will become more intense, and building bridges to help you find your way into the world of work (for example, through relevant work experience and placements) will be pivotal. Interview skills and application form advice can be sought from careers professionals.

Natalie is the founder of She can discuss your career options in one-to-one sessions and give you expert guidance on your personal statement. She also offers subject-specific mentoring and help with job applications.

For more information, contact Natalie Lancer on 07747 612 513 or at

Natalie’s Top tips for getting a grip on student finances:

  • Keep a close watch on university websites and contact the relevant university for more information. Each university will publish their proposed fees for 2012/13, and it will benefit you to know as early as possible what the financial commitments could be.
  • Since universities could potentially charge different fees you can ‘shop around’ for the right degree. You should consider as early as possible what it is you want to get out of a degree and whether a particular university represents value for money. Information can be gleaned from published league tables and university websites about the quality of teaching at a particular institution, the career paths of students once they have finished there, extra-curricular activities and other course features (such as spending a year abroad or in industry).
  • Start thinking about your longer term career options and building some bridges between you and companies that may finance your degree or offer you a job once you have graduated.
  • Find out how to apply for any available scholarships the universities are funding and if you are eligible for a bursary or money from the Access to Learning Funds.
  • Talk to a careers professional such as Natalie Lancer, who can help you work out which university can offer you the best value for money and a student experience in line with your needs and career goals.