More than 23% of individuals who sat their A Levels this year received an unconditional university offer. Unconditional offers are even more coveted by perspective students than the conditional offer, which expresses the university’s interest as long as they achieve certain grades in an examination.
Conditional offers vigorously test a year’s worth of knowledge in as little as an hour or two. But basing a student’s success on one area of an entire syllabus, or perhaps more widely their ability to cope under the pressure that exam season brings, somewhat disregards the reason that university was interested in that student in the first place; this is where the unconditional offer comes in.
This young person is intelligent and has something to offer the University
It says to the student that they are more than just a grade on a piece of paper, determined by that slim, pressured couple of hours in which they must prove something the university admissions team already knows – that this young person is intelligent and has something to offer the university. This can only prove to be rewarding for that young person’s self esteem, which is something that young people are increasingly lacking as the education system becomes more challenging and selective. With mental health issues (or at least awareness of their existence) on the rise, surely this is something that ought to be encouraged?
It is easy to assume students who receive unconditional offers become complacent and work less hard
Any suggestion that these offers ‘undermine the university system’ demands us to question what the university system is. True, university students should be willing to work hard and produce both the best results and best versions of themselves at university, a value which unconditional offers have been argued to contradict. It is easy to assume students who receive unconditional offers become complacent and work less hard, as their grades essentially become meaningless in determining their next steps in life. However, that again assumes that the potential grade is the only reason a place was offered to that student; university admissions teams read many applications and study many personal statements, even interviewing some students. If the team have done their homework, it is extremely unlikely that they would offer an unconditional place to a student displaying such attitudes.
How often was it drilled into us that we needed to put something interesting and unique into our personal statements? The student sells the best version of themselves to the university, and it is vital that the university in turn takes a holistic approach to the student and sees them as more than just a number or a letter on a piece of paper.
The unconditional offer asks what students can do for themselves
The unconditional offer symbolises the potential that the education system often rejects, and amidst the current mental health crisis it should not be looked down on. Whilst a conventional approach asks ‘what can you do for society, for us?’, the unconditional offer asks ‘what can you do for yourself?’
It gives students the opportunity to perform to the best of their ability without the detrimental pressure that their best might not be ‘good enough’. It removes the tension from exams allowing students to perform their best, and tells them there is value in being a rounded individual. Perhaps if more young people were given the correct encouragement, they would feel able to deliver what the education system constantly demands – the ability to give back to a society that serves them too.