We recently invited our current RO students to ask a previous RO student, Marco, any questions they had about taking part in the programme. Marco was a cohort 5 Realising Opportunities student and successfully passed the programme, staring his degree at one of our RO partner universities. Alongside his current studies, Marco is working with some of our cohort 7 students as a dedicated ementor.
See their questions and what Marco had to say about the programme here!
Hi! My name is Marco and I’m from London. I’m currently studying Geography and International Development at the University of Sussex. I was lucky enough to be a RO student when I did my A Levels and it really helped me. At the time, I wasn’t really sure if RO would help me but it turned out to make such a difference and helped me make my decisions about course and university to choose. Additionally, if it wasn’t for the lower grade requirement that I was offered, I wouldn’t be at uni! I would definitely tell anyone to use every opportunity with RO!
I’m worried about balancing RO around my A Levels. Do you have any advice on how to manage RO alongside sixth form?
This was one of my biggest problems! I tried to do a lot of things and A Levels are very demanding in themselves so it’s best to just organise your time as much as possible. I created a timetable of what deadlines I had coming up and added in time for replying to my mentor and the other parts of RO. Even if I didn’t always stick to it, I tried to prioritise the important things to do. Don’t forget to add time to relax though!
Did you go to any of the other events offered by the universities like Open Days or Summer Schools? I’ve already attended my Local Launch and the conference but my host has lots of other events.
When I first joined RO, I didn’t really know what I wanted to study so I picked a few taster days to get a better idea of what I might like to study. Then once I had chosen the subjects, I did a bit more research and found some RO universities and events that I wanted to visit. I emailed them telling them I wanted to come and that I was an RO student and they even paid for my travel! It’s really helpful to see universities and get a feel for it and open days were probably the biggest factor in me deciding what unis that I wanted to go to.
How often did you talk to your ementor?
I’m going to be really honest, I didn’t speak to my ementor as much as I should have in the beginning (only once or twice a month). I really should have spoken to him more as towards the end, he had loads of great advice and tips that have made a difference to my experience at uni and would have helped me more during my sixth form days.
What was the most beneficial thing you got from doing this programme?
I’d say the most beneficial thing, other than the lower grade requirements, was the skills that I learned from doing the EPQ. It was the longest, most painful, tiring piece of work that I’ve ever done but it was also so enjoyable and satisfying to do. I felt lucky that I was able to do university standard work before getting to university and not many people had that chance. I was able to learn how to research effectively, write successfully and develop presenting skills. It gave me a great opportunity to prepare for university and it was something else to put on my personal statement.
I was going to wait until the summer when I’m finished with Year 12 and have more time to do skills4uni but I’ve heard that it will help me with my school work now. Would you recommend doing it sooner?
YES! YES! And YES! I wish I could go back and tell myself to do it sooner. I learnt so many different skills from it that would have helped me when doing my coursework and revising for exams. I would have probably done more effective revision and better in my exams if I had completed the test sooner. Don’t be one of those people that puts it off till the end – go and do it as soon as you can!
I don’t know how to include RO in my personal statement. What part of the scheme should I mention?
On my personal statement, I chose to focus a lot on my EPQ as I selected a topic that was related to my course. I spoke about the topic and how it interests me, but also about the skills I learnt from doing the EPQ which I knew the universities were looking for (such as research, time management and self-motivation). If you went on any really interesting taster days at an RO university, mention why they interested you. Universities will know that you’re an RO student from your UCAS application so make sure to talk about why you’re interested in that subject and if RO has helped you.
Many thanks to Marco for taking the time to answer our students’ questions!