With standards in education ever improving and top grades becoming the norm, the competition for places on university course is now fierce.
Students need to show something more than just a clean sweep of A*s and Grade 9s to land a place on the course of their choice or a prestigious job.
Higher education establishments are not just looking for the brightest minds but individuals who will enhance campus life or the reputation of the university.
They use information included in personal statements or revealed at interviews to differentiate between applicants with identical grades or identify which borderline candidates will thrive in an academic setting.
Employers similarly are looking to recruit people who bring more than just classroom learning to a role.
It is essential for students to round out their own emerging character by discovering passions and talents that have not yet be tapped by formal studies.
In the sixth form at Urmston Grammar we are committed to the motto achieve, enrich, excel.
And students are supported in this by our Enrichment programme throughout Year 12.
The focus is very strongly on personal growth, with workshops on mental health, current affairs, interviews technique, critical thinking and personal finance.
This week students are choosing how they will spend Wednesday enrichment afternoons with onsite opportunities ranging from the Debating Society to the school creche or running the school newspaper to learning British Sign Language or Italian.
Even if the time is spent doing something that, at first glance, has nothing to do with their further studies or expected career path, it will expand their life experience, benefit them physically, mentally and socially while enriching our school community.
There is time for football, personal fitness and skiing, and those of a scientific bent will enjoy Code Academy, Engineering Education Scheme, STEM Leaders, and Geography club.
External schemes such as Duke of Edinburgh and Young Enterprise offer structured and validated achievements with fun and team work at their heart.
Many sixth formers get involved with charity work in the community or mentoring younger students within school.
Work experience, whether directly relevant to your hoped-for area of study or career – or with demonstrable transferrable skills, is highly desirable.
Mostly students arrange their own weekly community placements in accordance with their field of interest and are expected to undertake at least one placement during the year.
During the summer term, students can also accept five-day work placements to experience a work environment more fully.
Although I started this blog with talk of admissions tutors and personal statements, our enrichment time is really about opportunity and discovery.
Our students have this wonderful opportunity to discover so much more about what they are capable of and love than just what their degree might be. In these two short A-Level years, it is easy to become entirely focused on the endgame of exams and results.
We want Urmston Grammar students to enrich the world with much, much more than that.