Alumni go online to help put pupils on the path to university success

Alumni go online to help put pupils on the path to university success

With coronavirus restrictions precluding a repeat of last year’s inaugural University Mock Interview Evening at the School, QE’s old boys and supporters have instead been turning out in force online to make sure current pupils don’t miss out.

Using the School’s QE Connect social media platform, Assistant Head (Pupil Development) Michael Feven paired up Year 13 boys with Old Elizabethans happy to conduct virtual interviews via Zoom and Skype.

“Whilst we are disappointed not to be able to hold our Mock Interview Evening in person this year, the value of these interviews in supporting boys with their university applications cannot be overstated,” said Mr Feven.

The Autumn Term is a busy time for Year 13 boys, with UCAS applications due in, university admissions tests taking place for Oxbridge places and for degree subjects such as Law and Medicine, and with Oxbridge interviews being held in the run-up to Christmas. Mock interviews constitute an important element of the detailed programme of support that the School provides to help senior pupils secure places on the best courses and at leading universities.

OEs have been helping out sixth-formers with interview practice for many years, but last year’s dedicated mock interview evening at the School, which was attended by nearly 40 alumni and supporters of QE, was the first of its kind. This year, dozens of online-only mock interviews are instead being held; they continue throughout November.

Among those paired together for the mock interviews were Zac Howlett-Davies (OE 2006–2013, pictured) and Year 13’s Zeke Essex, who is applying to read Modern Languages at Corpus Christi, Cambridge. Zac, who read Modern Languages at Durham, uses his French and German on a daily basis in his role in European copyright licensing for printed music publisher Hal Leonard Europe.

“Mr Howlett-Davies gave excellent feedback based on his own experiences and it was great practice before the real thing. He was very knowledgeable and was very easy to have a conversation with,” said Zeke.

Sai Bodanapu, who is among QE’s aspiring medics, pointed out that the specific benefit of meeting his interviewer via Zoom in this pandemic year: “My mock interview helped me as it gave an actual representation of how online interviews will take place.” Sai was interviewed by Andleeb Ahmed, who is an NHS GP and mentor; her son, Fozy Ahmed, who left QE this year, is studying Medicine at Gonville & Caius, Cambridge.

“I am hugely grateful to the longstanding support from our Old Elizabethan community and from other Friends of the School who each year so generously give up their time to support our Year 13 students in this way,” Mr Feven added.