How Repton School Helps Students Secure Ambitious Higher-Education Opportunities


The time is fast approaching for this year’s upper sixth formers to progress into higher-education opportunities, start exciting apprenticeships, and launch their careers. Classes of 2021 will face similar challenges to last year’s students amid the coronavirus pandemic. But Derbyshire’s co-educational independent school, Repton, is pulling out all the stops to help students pursue ambitious degrees and careers regardless.

Repton School is dedicated to shaping its students for thriving careers in the modern world. The school blends traditional curriculums with creative and future-facing subjects so all students can enjoy a fully rounded education. Each member of staff – teaching and pastoral – also makes every effort to help students expand their global awareness, intellectual curiosity, and individual skillsets so they can flourish in their chosen careers.

Repton School’s International Universities Evening.

In Repton’s latest efforts to excite students about the possibilities for their futures, the school invited all parents and students to attend a virtual International Universities Evening last month. Repton managed the event with The University Guys to connect students with universities and give them an insight into the higher-education opportunities that are available to them.

During the event, parents and students listened to talks from two US universities, Vanderbilt University and Claremont McKenna College, which specialise in research and arts respectively. They then enjoyed presentations on study options in Australia, New Zealand, and the Netherlands. These talks represented just a handful of opportunities on offer to Repton students.

Repton pushes students to think big to achieve their goals. If the right opportunity is waiting abroad, Repton believes students shouldn’t feel this opportunity isn’t available to them. Amongst Reptonians who have gone on to study abroad, former student Ellie Mitchell is now pursuing an Economics degree and swimming competitively at an Ivy League university in America.

Here, Ellie reflects on the support she received from Repton’s staff, who helped her to shape her very own American dream.

Ellie’s Decision To Study Abroad.

Competitive swimmer and Economics student Ellie Mitchell knew from a young age that she wanted to study in America. She is delighted that Repton was able to help her achieve this.

During her final year at Repton, Ellie embraced the opportunity to study a degree abroad and explored numerous universities in the US. She found that American universities tend to offer particularly impressive sporting facilities – often on a larger scale than the UK’s – and decided not to apply for any local universities, especially as she had already stayed at many UK campuses during her extensive swimming career.

‘I aspired to take on a different university experience – something completely new and exciting to me, compared to the many university swimming pools I had visited so many times,’ Ellie says.

Ellie notes that the applications process for US universities is very different from the UK system. But, with support from Repton’s staff, she was able to navigate through the applications with ease. As Ellie worked on her applications, she also found that admissions teams and coaches from US universities were pleased to hear from a student in England and were keen to help, too.

Soon after Ellie had submitted her applications, Brown University, Rhode Island, offered her a place to study Economics and swim on one of their competitive teams. Accepting her place at the prestigious university meant that Ellie had to sign a ‘Likely Letter’, a document that legally bound her from entering the UK’s UCAS process.

Now thoroughly enjoying her degree, Ellie trains in an Olympic-sized swimming pool and has access to two lifting gyms, hot tubs, ice baths, recovery rooms, and even her own physiotherapist. When Ellie isn’t training for her swimming championships, she also enjoys using the university’s indoor athletic track, football and hockey pitches, and ice hockey rink.

Support from Repton.

Ellie reflects on the immense support that she received from Repton School during her university applications process. She recalls spending two hours every Saturday studying for her ACT exam – a test used for college admissions in America – under the encouragement and support of the Math department staff.

Having decided to study Economics, Ellie was also delighted with the guidance that Mr Exley and Mr Marston gave to help her achieve a place at her ideal university.

‘Mr Exley helped me tremendously with the academic questions and my letter of recommendation,’ Ellie says. ‘It is as a result and a credit to the Economics department at Repton that I have gone on to further study Economics at Brown. I am very fortunate to have been taught and inspired by these two amazing teachers.’

Meanwhile, Repton’s swimming coach Mr Pollock helped Ellie to balance her rigorous training schedule with her A Level and ACT studies so that she could flourish in both her demanding academic and sporting pursuits.

On top of this, Ellie is thankful for the support that Repton’s head of careers Mr Swanston gave her as she whittled her university shortlist down to Brown University. She describes him as ‘a fount of knowledge for all university admissions’.

Studying Overseas.

Studying abroad has enabled Ellie to pursue the best of both swimming and economics. She chose Brown University’s Economics degree, not only because of its excellent reputation, but also because she can take 16 additional classes on top of this course. Ellie loves the quirkiness of these classes and enjoyed choosing between fascinating options that aren’t widely available in the UK. These classes include the Socio-Economic Factors of Hispaniola, Beyoncé’s Music, the Art of Ice-cream Making, and How To Make Films Using an iPhone.

Opting for a university in a different country has opened more opportunity doors for Ellie than she ever imagined. In particular, she highlights Brown University’s extensive alumni network, where she has met sports graduates who offer invaluable mentorship for current students.

‘Brown has a very strong school spirit, so the alumni are more than willing to offer their guidance, advice, and work experience,’ Ellie says. ‘Being on a team also provides you with your own network of strong friends as you train many hours together and race together.’

Outside of her studies, Ellie has made the most of the American university culture by joining a sorority, where she has met many new friends. She opted for the Delta Gamma sorority, which comprises around 400 female students from the university and doubles up as a national organisation in the US.

‘As an English student, I had to see what a sorority was all about!’ Ellie says.

Ellie’s Advice for Reptonians.

Ellie looks back on her time at Repton School fondly and advises the current sixth formers to research potential universities as soon as possible.

‘This includes researching where you would like to go, and then more specifically, the academic programme at the university, as well as the sporting achievements, the type of students who go there, the facilities, and campus offered,’ Ellie says.

‘You should also talk to the plethora of knowledgeable teachers at Repton, starting with Mr Swanston, all of whom can give great advice and expertise on the process and commitment required. I remember Mr Swanston telling me how much I would love Brown’s campus and how beautiful it is before I visited, and he was certainly right! The earlier you start, the easier the process will be.’

Ellie encourages students not to feel disheartened if they don’t hear back from university enquiries straight away. When researching her higher-education options, she emailed around 15 swimming coaches each week. She often had to email two or three times before hearing back. But Ellie’s university swimming coach later told her that her emails had proven her dedication to break away from the norm and study internationally. Ellie emphasises that sending enquiries is a great way to get your personality across to universities, which can be just as important as grades.

Opportunities for Repton Students.

Ellie is one of many Reptonians who have gone on to pursue their dream careers after completing their journey with one of England’s top-performing schools. Repton encourages all students to make the most of their potential as they reach the end of their sixth-form studies and move on to the next exciting phase of their lives. This year, the school is determined not to let the pandemic affect students’ journeys as they progress on to study at universities and take on apprenticeships both across the country and around the world.

Learn more About Life After Repton and Repton’s higher-education opportunities.

About Repton School.

Based in South Derbyshire’s rolling countryside, Repton is an independent boarding school, widely recognised for its admirable exam results, impressive sports accolades, and commitment to helping students excel both in and out of the classroom. The school’s history dates back to 1557, and students enjoy studying amid the campus’ sixteenth-century buildings. Historic backdrop aside, Repton focuses on future-proofing its curriculums and pastoral care and is dedicated to preparing students for modern-day futures and to meet their individual, ambitious goals.



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