Higher Education & Careers

The vast majority of Wellingtonians go on to some form of Higher Education, so it is vital that they make their IB or A Level subject choices with university requirements in mind. Similarly, although relatively few pupils have decided on their jobs at entry to the Sixth Form, all must be aware of their potential career directions so that they can keep their options open for as long as possible. Whatever the case, pupils must begin thinking about and researching their future pathways as they make their choices for the Sixth Form.

Thinking about careers

To assist in that process, we enrol all of our 5th formers in the Cambridge Occupational Analysts (“COA”) scheme, which is a series of psychometric tests, an interest questionnaire and an individual interview administered at College by the COA. The report provides pupils with an objective view of their strengths and potential career directions, and it is invaluable in helping pupils to choose their Sixth Form subjects. Pupils new to Wellington in the Lower Sixth Form may have enrolled at their previous school or may do so when they arrive.

The HE & Careers Library is open daily during term time and contains many university prospectuses and information on different careers and gap year opportunities. It is also increasingly vital to do work experience placements and internships and the Head of Careers is an important point of contact to help with this.

Mr CB Ewart

Head of Higher Education

Thinking about university

Some university faculties have specific IB or A Level subject pre-requisites, so pupils who have particular university aspirations must use the UCAS and university websites in the 5th Form to check Sixth Form subject choices. See www.ucas.com. Pupils aspiring to ambitious university applications should also consider the list of A Levels that Russell Group universities (rightly or wrongly) do not consider adequately academic preparation for their courses. See www.russellgroup.ac.uk.

Once in the Lower Sixth Form, pupils are encouraged to think more specifically about what they will do when they leave Wellington and they are introduced to the process of applying to universities. In addition to using the UCAS and university websites, they are encouraged to visit universities, either at official open days (many of which are at the end of the Summer Term in the Lower Sixth Form) or in informally arranged visits during the school holidays (a quick phone call to the university admissions office is an easy way to set this up).

Pupils should make their decisions about Higher Education and possible gap year options during the Summer Term of the Lower Sixth Form so that they can complete the online UCAS application early in the Michaelmas Term of the Upper Sixth Form. Applications to nearly all universities in the UK are done centrally and online through UCAS. There are some art, dance and drama schools and conservatoires that are outside the UCAS scope and pupils will have to apply to them directly.  Pupils can make up to 5 choices using UCAS unless applying for Medicine, Dentistry and Veterinary where they can apply to only four. Some universities also require extra application forms and admissions tests, and pupils must remember that the deadline for Oxford, Cambridge, Medicine, Dentistry and Veterinary Science is much earlier than for other courses and universities. Deferred entry applications are also possible for those who have definitely decided on a gap year.


Pupils aspiring to Cambridge and Oxford must begin preparing much earlier than applicants to other universities and must complete their applications by mid-September in the Upper Sixth Form (i.e. extremely early in the academic year). More than any other universities, Cambridge and Oxford are looking for academic passion and ability. They are significantly less interested than they once might have been in sports and rounded characters; they want to see pupils who not only gain good grades but live and breathe their chosen subjects and take a passionately active interest in academia. Applicants must therefore start their intellectual preparations as early as possible in their GCSE years by deciding on their subject specialism at university, researching and choosing their IB or A Level subjects carefully, reading beyond the course, taking part in academic competitions, and assuming leadership roles in intellectual societies and activities at Wellington and beyond. Pupils will be supported through the complex stages of the Oxbridge application, entry test, work submission and interview process in the Lower and Upper Sixth Forms, and should speak to the Oxbridge Co-ordinator and relevant teachers as early as possible, and preferably in the 5th Form.

American universities

In contrast to the UK system, applications to American universities are not all done centrally and separate application forms have to be filled in for each course and institution unless the university is part of the Common Application system. The process can be time-consuming and applicants often have to complete ACT or SAT tests. The sooner pupils start to investigate the possibilities, the better. A good place to start is the Fulbright Commission (www.fulbright.co.uk). Wellington hosts ACT and SAT preparation courses and interested pupils should speak to the American Universities Co-ordinator as early as possible. Wellington College is an exam centre for both the SAT and ACT exams.

Specialist visual and performing arts courses

Courses in Art and Design often require a specific portfolio to be compiled before applying to the university. On occasions applicants may need to attend an Art Foundation Course at a specialist art college after leaving Wellington. Pupils interested in such courses should consult the Heads of the Art and Design departments. UCAS has two entry routes (A and B) for Art & Design courses. Route B has a later deadline and the institutions are listed in order of preference. Some Music, Drama and Performing Arts courses are not covered by the UCAS application system and pupils apply directly to the college of their choice. Pupils interested in further study in these areas should contact the heads of the relevant departments.