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Old 14-02-2013, 13:45
Xagan
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Hey everyone,

I'll try and keep this brief. I am aspiring to study Modern and Medieval Languages at Cambridge, I specifically want to study Spanish. I've researched into what I need to get, and I was told that I need to get an A-level in Spanish, I was also recommended to take a further one or two A levels, an Access Course or Open University modules to make a competitive application.

Here's the catch, I have no qualifications, well, none that are probably relevant. I have a Functional Skills Level Two Award in English, and an A-level in Dance, oh, I also have a Level Two Award in Animal Care, but I'm guessing none of these will help me. They were all achieved during a topsy turvy few years after I left secondary school early. Now, I want to seriously catch up and do what I want to do, I want to study Languages at Cambridge, and I'm willing to work relentlessly to achieve it, but I really need to get the qualifications to make it happen. I'm 21 in March, so I'll be a mature student if the time comes that I apply to Cambridge.

I would really like some advice as to how I go about getting an A-level in Spanish, and how I can get the other needed qualifications alongside it, so that I can one day potentially study at Cambridge.

I would be really grateful for any help.

Xagan
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Old 14-02-2013, 13:49
Hugh Jboobs
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Can you speak Spanish at all at the moment? Or is it a brand new language to you?
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Old 14-02-2013, 14:10
YoungAtHeart
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You can study with the Open University. They do a Spanish degree and they will teach you it from scratch (if necessary) and it doesn't matter what qualifications you already have.

If you are determined to attend Cambridge, then I would recommend looking at their website to see what the entry requirements are for doing a Spanish degree with them.
Possibilities include being able to do an access course plus an A level in Spanish or you may need to have specific A levels only. It's really best to take a look.

HTH
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Old 14-02-2013, 14:56
RegMonkey
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Have you identified the Cambridge college that is offering your degree - you can get advice and information from them regarding their entry qualifications. However, what you have at the moment isn't enough to get in. You could do Spanish A Level at evening classes, you'll probably need A Level English too and at least one other. The best people to advise is the Cambridge college of your choice.
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Old 14-02-2013, 15:59
woodbush
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Do you know what you want to do. You have just started a new job and have mentioned going to live in Mexico and doing the OU.

Can't see you have any chance of getting into Cambridge without qualifications.
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Old 14-02-2013, 16:07
Nigel Goodwin
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Can't see you have any chance of getting into Cambridge without qualifications.
Or even with them - unless you've got plenty of money
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Old 14-02-2013, 21:54
Mumof3
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I went from scratch to an A at A level in 2 years flat (albeit 25 years ago). It was a tough and ruthless process, made possible only because I was the trial student whilst my school evaluated whether to offer Spanish, so I had 1:1 throughout with my teacher.
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Old 14-02-2013, 22:07
pasodabble
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Why does it have to be Cambridge? I suggest you aim to get into a good university to study modern languages or a similar degree, and if that university turns out to be Cambridge, good for you.

Despite what the admissions officer tells you, you need to get at least 3 A/A* passes at A level, not just Spanish. And usually in one sitting. May be less stringent for mature students, but for school-leavers you're only really competitive if you have another modern language at A level. So something like A* in Spanish, A In French and another A in History. At least. MML in Cambridge is oversubscribed, so they have nothing to gain by relaxing their entry criteria.
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Old 14-02-2013, 23:28
Susan_A1951
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As someone currently studying history at OU - what is Medieval languages?
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Old 14-02-2013, 23:44
Jo09
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Cambridge usual requires all A's at GCSE so I would enquire whether they need that. If you have great GCSEs then three A Levels might get you in. Worth getting some advice from Cambridge.
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Old 15-02-2013, 06:12
squirrel_army
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Cambridge usual requires all A's at GCSE so I would enquire whether they need that. If you have great GCSEs then three A Levels might get you in. Worth getting some advice from Cambridge.
They are normally more bothered about your
A level results than GCSEs. Last year's standard offer for MML was A*AA
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Old 15-02-2013, 11:34
ChickenWings
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They are normally more bothered about your
A level results than GCSEs. Last year's standard offer for MML was A*AA
Actually, Oxford, Cambridge and other top universities such as Durham actually care just as much about GCSEs as they do A-Levels. I know - I wasn't allowed to apply to Durham because they, at the time, wanted 10 A*-As at GCSE (despite me having good A-Level results) as well as AAB at A-Level.

If OP doesn't have any GCSEs, let alone A-Levels, then they're not going to Cambridge I am afraid.

I think sometimes people who have been away from education for a while can forget/not realise how brutal it can be - universities like Oxford, Cambridge and Durham have absolutely nothing to gain by lowering their standards - they already get hundreds/thousands more applicants than they ever take on. They don't need to increase their uptake.
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Old 15-02-2013, 14:44
Mandark
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Ignore all this talk of A*s if you're a mature student. I know a mature student who got an interview at Cambridge for history with an access course and some GCSEs. Didn't go well but it can happen. What they really want to know is whether you'd be able to keep up with such an intensive degree course.

The Student Room's mature forum is the place to discuss these things. There's quite a few there aiming for Oxbridge.
http://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/forumdisplay.php?f=185
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Old 15-02-2013, 23:59
Xagan
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Thanks a lot everyone for the input, it's much appreciated!

Can you speak Spanish at all at the moment? Or is it a brand new language to you?
I've almost completed the Paul Noble Spanish audio course. It's a home study course, so it's not like I've been studying Spanish for years or anything.

You can study with the Open University. They do a Spanish degree and they will teach you it from scratch (if necessary) and it doesn't matter what qualifications you already have.

If you are determined to attend Cambridge, then I would recommend looking at their website to see what the entry requirements are for doing a Spanish degree with them.
Possibilities include being able to do an access course plus an A level in Spanish or you may need to have specific A levels only. It's really best to take a look.

HTH
That's great advice, thank you. I'm not certain what I'm going to do yet, I'm seriously considering the Open University though, I'm definitely going to consider it. And I have looked at the entry requirements, it says that three A-levels are required, but I contacted them and they said that for mature students, a variety of qualifications are accepted. An A-level in Spanish is essential, and ideally I would have two other A-levels, but they also recognize Access Courses and Open University modules. It seems that in an ideal world, I would have the same qualifications as a school leaver (three A-levels), but baring in mind that I have already left school without these qualifications, it will probably be impossible for me to get them. I'm guessing that my best bet is to get an A-level in Spanish, and do an Access Course or the Open University as well as that? Am I correct, or can I do even better than that? And how do I go about getting those qualifications!?

Have you identified the Cambridge college that is offering your degree - you can get advice and information from them regarding their entry qualifications. However, what you have at the moment isn't enough to get in. You could do Spanish A Level at evening classes, you'll probably need A Level English too and at least one other. The best people to advise is the Cambridge college of your choice.
Yes I have identified the colleges that I'm interested in, three in fact, and I've been in touch with all three of them for advice. All three of them stated that they request three A-levels, but that they also consider one A-level (Spanish) alongside either an Access Course or Open University modules. One of them stated that A-levels would make my application more competitive, I kind of guessed that anyway though. Sorry if I'm being repetitive here, I'm just trying to cover everything. I've messed up in the past academically, so I'm determined to make it work this time, I want to do it right.

Do you know what you want to do. You have just started a new job and have mentioned going to live in Mexico and doing the OU.

Can't see you have any chance of getting into Cambridge without qualifications.

Hey there, moving to Mexico is certainly a long term aspiration of mine, but after the advice I received on that thread, I've decided that it's best to sort myself out first, I mean, to get myself back on track academically. I've decided that I'd like to do that before I think about moving abroad. This is why I want to study Spanish, it's a passion of mine, it'll be a huge step in my life. With regards to the job, it's not contracted, the management there are fantastic and are more than happy for me to work part-time alongside studying, if needed.

Why does it have to be Cambridge? I suggest you aim to get into a good university to study modern languages or a similar degree, and if that university turns out to be Cambridge, good for you.

Despite what the admissions officer tells you, you need to get at least 3 A/A* passes at A level, not just Spanish. And usually in one sitting. May be less stringent for mature students, but for school-leavers you're only really competitive if you have another modern language at A level. So something like A* in Spanish, A In French and another A in History. At least. MML in Cambridge is oversubscribed, so they have nothing to gain by relaxing their entry criteria.
It doesn't necessarily have to be Cambridge, that's just my goal, if it turns out to be another university, then so be it. And yes, I think you're right, maybe when it boils down to it, Cambridge will only accept three A-levels, but how do I get them? I've left school now, so I don't know how I'm meant to get three A-levels.

Actually, Oxford, Cambridge and other top universities such as Durham actually care just as much about GCSEs as they do A-Levels. I know - I wasn't allowed to apply to Durham because they, at the time, wanted 10 A*-As at GCSE (despite me having good A-Level results) as well as AAB at A-Level.

If OP doesn't have any GCSEs, let alone A-Levels, then they're not going to Cambridge I am afraid.

I think sometimes people who have been away from education for a while can forget/not realise how brutal it can be - universities like Oxford, Cambridge and Durham have absolutely nothing to gain by lowering their standards - they already get hundreds/thousands more applicants than they ever take on. They don't need to increase their uptake.
I don't have any GCSEs either, but they didn't say I wouldn't have a chance when I attended a mature students' open day there. They have four colleges specifically for mature students, and those are the ones I'm interested in, so I'm guessing that I won't have to be as competitive as a school leaver because I won't be competing with school leavers, I'll be competing with other mature students. But hey, I don't know, maybe I'm just choosing to believe what I want to believe, maybe I do need all the GCSEs and everything else that school leavers have. I'm chasing a dream here, maybe it's just unobtainable, maybe I should just go down the Open University route, or think about going to a different university.

Ignore all this talk of A*s if you're a mature student. I know a mature student who got an interview at Cambridge for history with an access course and some GCSEs. Didn't go well but it can happen. What they really want to know is whether you'd be able to keep up with such an intensive degree course.

The Student Room's mature forum is the place to discuss these things. There's quite a few there aiming for Oxbridge.
http://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/forumdisplay.php?f=185
Thanks for that! So with that in mind, I guess it's just about getting either three A-levels (one of them being Spanish), or an A-level in Spanish alongside an Access Course or Open University modules. How do I go about this? It feels like I've been out of the academic circle for so long that I don't really know how to go about it all.

Again, thanks for the advice and input everyone, I really appreciate it
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Old 16-02-2013, 00:44
oscardelahoya
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Open university you can just register online. You don't need any particular qualifications, you just need to choose the level appropriate for you. They do introductory modules in a lot of things although I don't know about languages. I got into university as a mature student on the back of OU courses. For A levels I think you can either study it yourself and pay to sit the exams somewhere as an external candidate, or you could enrol in college.

Good luck
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Old 16-02-2013, 00:48
~Minky~
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I'm not sure if it's the same for mature students but for normal applications Oxbridge requires specific GCSEs such as English, maths + a language.

Studying a language at uni that you started from scratch at A level is hard enough without throwing medieval languages as well. Plusb they will be all the harder if you haven't done latin. I would just focus on the Spanish if you like it.

You'd have a reasonable chance of getting into Cambridge if you did A levels now. Could you try an adult education college?
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Old 16-02-2013, 06:47
Mumof3
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How are your analytical skills with regard to literature, btw, and your knowledge of history? Language is never studied in isolation at university (nor even at A level), and certainly not at Cambridge (other than Linguistics, - phonetics, morphology, semantics). And have you seen from their syllabus that you would be required to study two languages to "near native" level, for the first 3 years of their 4 year course?
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Old 17-02-2013, 20:36
Xagan
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Open university you can just register online. You don't need any particular qualifications, you just need to choose the level appropriate for you. They do introductory modules in a lot of things although I don't know about languages. I got into university as a mature student on the back of OU courses. For A levels I think you can either study it yourself and pay to sit the exams somewhere as an external candidate, or you could enrol in college.

Good luck
Thanks for that, great advice. As for the A-levels, I didn't know I could study them on my own, that's interesting, would it not be difficult to get a good grade though? And as for doing them at college, that sounds better, but I can't seem to find any colleges that do them.

I'm not sure if it's the same for mature students but for normal applications Oxbridge requires specific GCSEs such as English, maths + a language.

Studying a language at uni that you started from scratch at A level is hard enough without throwing medieval languages as well. Plusb they will be all the harder if you haven't done latin. I would just focus on the Spanish if you like it.

You'd have a reasonable chance of getting into Cambridge if you did A levels now. Could you try an adult education college?
That's very encouraging, I just need to find a way of getting A-levels then. I'll have to try an adult education college, I didn't know they existed, they must be hiding! I would have thought that there must be some in London though, so I'll have a good look.

How are your analytical skills with regard to literature, btw, and your knowledge of history? Language is never studied in isolation at university (nor even at A level), and certainly not at Cambridge (other than Linguistics, - phonetics, morphology, semantics). And have you seen from their syllabus that you would be required to study two languages to "near native" level, for the first 3 years of their 4 year course?
I'm aware of this, I've looked intensively at what the course covers. To be honest, the main area I would have concerns over is the history, but I think that with work and determination, I'll be fine. With regards to the second language, I've already chosen that I'd like to study Russian, but that's a long way off right now. I've had a good look at the course, and it's definitely something I want to do, it will be a dream if I can achieve it.
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Old 22-02-2013, 22:09
Xagan
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Hey everyone, sorry to bring this thread back, but there's one thing I'd like to add that I'm really considering. My uncle is a professional floor layer, and he's offered to take me on and teach me the trade. Maybe this is just what I need, a trade that I can learn and hopefully have a steady job in one day. If I was to go into the flooring trade, I would be in a full-time job that would pay well and allow me to do the things I want to do in my spare time, like travelling and learning Spanish etc... Maybe it's just what I need.

What do you think?
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Old 23-02-2013, 09:14
YoungAtHeart
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Hey everyone, sorry to bring this thread back, but there's one thing I'd like to add that I'm really considering. My uncle is a professional floor layer, and he's offered to take me on and teach me the trade. Maybe this is just what I need, a trade that I can learn and hopefully have a steady job in one day. If I was to go into the flooring trade, I would be in a full-time job that would pay well and allow me to do the things I want to do in my spare time, like travelling and learning Spanish etc... Maybe it's just what I need.

What do you think?
I think an opportunity landing in your lap in this way is fantastic.

You could still study Spanish with the Open University whilst learning the new trade anyway.

So all your options are still open to you
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Old 23-02-2013, 19:34
Truffle Cart
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You've got admirable enthusiasm, Xagan! try www.hotcourses.com, do a search for spanish A-level, there are a couple of college and distance learning courses on there in London
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Old 23-02-2013, 20:47
Mumof3
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Why not investigate the income potential vs costs of both routes, weighing up the pros and cons of each very different scenario? Clearly income isn't the only criterion, but its a good place to start, if you relate it to particular goals you may have (home ownership etc).
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