U5 Trip to Cambridge University
Tuesday 24th January 2017
On Friday 20 January a group of U5 went to St. John’s College (one of the colleges at Cambridge University) to gain insight into the life of a student and the process they went through to get a spot at one of the country’s top universities.
After a 2-hour trip, we got off the bus and straight into action, starting with a brisk walk to the college. We then had an informative introduction to the College and its general atmosphere from a previous student (in particular we liked the countless links she made between Harry Potter and the university!). She told us about the vast range of courses from which you can choose, as well as talking about the numerous activities and extra-curricular clubs on offer, ranging from lacrosse to the assassin’s guild (a club which includes fake killing three specific members of the university whilst having to defend yourself by being ‘assassinated’ by another three members of the university who had your profile). We then went to lunch in the College canteen, which served delicious food and a vast range of different snacks and treats (including Muller Corners!). It was fun sitting amongst all the students in St. John’s; it made the idea of going to Cambridge more realistic and not just a fantasy as you could notice how normal these people actually were, and not just super-humans whose mentality is ‘eat, sleep, work, repeat’!
We then had a Q&A session with two students both doing different courses. We found it really interesting to hear about their daily routine which included lectures and lab work as well as lots of extra-curricular activities like theatre, sport and even comedy. Knowing how many extra-curricular activities they did made us think that going to Cambridge isn’t all about work and getting good grades, but also about trying new things and enjoying yourself. The question, ‘By going to Cambridge does it lay a huge pressure on you that you have to do well?’ was asked and the students’ response explained that in terms of studying you get out what you put in and the aim is still to get a degree, no matter which university you go to. This answer was very informative as it made Cambridge seem achievable and diminished all stereotypes of going there.
Afterwards we took a tour of St John’s including the chapel, common room and library (which had a spinning door which is just too exciting to explain in writing!). The campus’ exterior is beautiful and the interior of the chapel is stunning. When we went inside the common room it felt comfortable and more like a living environment rather than a castle (potentially Hogwarts!). The inside was very similar to boarding which was inviting as it took away the fear of living by yourself and having to cope on your own as well as time-manage and keep up with work.
We ended our day at the College by having an individual talk with our guide about what A levels we want to take and how they might influence our choices for university. We were advised to think about the degree course we want to take before choosing our A levels. This was helpful as the biggest piece of advice she gave us was to pick the subject that we enjoy, as we will be doing it every day for the next five to eight years (through both sixth form and university). As the eventful day came to an end, we walked back to the bus and stopped off at the sweetshop, which was just the cherry on top of the cake!
The trip as a whole was extremely helpful and eye opening towards the idea of Russell group university, Cambridge in particular. Overall, the trip was very enjoyable and informative. It certainly gave us the inspiration and motivation to work hard and aim to achieve the grades we will need to be able to go to a university like Cambridge.