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Cambridge University Trip

Sunny Ratilal Thursday 17 Nov 2011

University of Cambridge trip report

Written by Sunny Ratilal, 10JMO

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On Saturday, 12th November, fourteen students and I accompanied with Mr Littlewood and Mr Smith went on a trip to Corpus Christi College, Cambridge University.  I’d like to talk about my experience and my time there.

It was a trip that lasted from 9am to 7pm so it was a long day but it was worth it.  We departed just after 9am and ahead of us was a two-hour journey to Cambridge and it felt like the longest journey of my life!  Upon arrival, we had quite a bit of a walk to Corpus Christi College but along the way, we saw something fascinating - The Mathematical Bridge.  It was built by Isaac Newton and it was built purely using the Laws of Physics – there were no screws or hinges.  However, it was taken apart and couldn’t be put back together, hence had to put back together using screws and hinges.

We made our way to the college to be greeted by two tour guides.  They gave us a tour of the college, including the hall, the library and the bar.  The tour guides also talked about their experiences at Cambridge University, their life before going to Cambridge University and how it’s changed.  It was very interesting and a question and answer question was also held.  They did reassure us a lot that it’s not extremely hard to get into Cambridge University and anyone can apply – all they need is drive and determination.

The tour lasted for just over an hour and we found out a lot about life at Cambridge University, things to do, clubs and societies and how you can manage your free time.  Corpus Christi College is actually one of the smallest and oldest colleges at Cambridge University but some of the buildings have been modernised such as the Library and the Bar.  The Library was astounding – there were rows upon rows of books and the atmosphere was very work-friendly.  I’m sure that a great deal of studying goes on in there!  Also, one of the libraries at Cambridge University claims to have every single book ever published.

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Unfortunately, we didn’t get to go into any of the rooms that the students lived in but we were told that they were fairly reasonable in size and everyone was equipped with a bed, desk, and wardrobe along with other basic necessities.

Our tour ended at 12:30pm and we walked to Kings College and we were allowed to go off and have lunch and we were to meet back at 1:30pm.  My friend and I explored the town and immediately we discovered that the town of Cambridge is a mix between a Victorian town and Kingston upon Thames.  They had modern shops but the architecture of the town, if you like was very Victorian.  It was also quite a busy town.  Luckily, we didn’t get lost and as we were armed with a map, we found our way back in no time.

Everyone met back at 1:30pm and from there, we had to go the Babbage Lecture Theatre where we were going to listen to a three hour lecture titled “The Subject Matters” by three of the admissions tutors at Cambridge.  Albeit, we got a little lost, we got there in time for the start of the lecture.

The lecture hall was huge and there were a lot of students from other schools across the country.  We found ourselves seats and the lecture began.  The admissions tutors introduced themselves and their first subject was about choices, specifically A-Level choices.  The talk was very interesting and helpful and they explained clearly what subjects to take; what they look for when interviewing; how to persuade them that you’d like to graduate at Cambridge University.  It all came to down to one thing, you had to be passionate about your subject and you had to show a great deal of interest towards it – may that be doing extra work for it inside or outside of school.  They also mentioned that at Cambridge University, they look for 2 A-stars and 1 A at A-Level and that they don’t use the UCAS points system.  The lecturers made it very clear what their criteria is and what applicants should do to graduate at Cambridge.

To summarise, the first part of the lecture explained the benefits of Higher Education and we found out more about what degree course choices and career options are available.  The session also gave advice about choosing A-Level subjects.

A question and answer question was held after that.  Many questions were, some of which I wanted to ask and there were mostly about career paths, what options to choose for specific degrees, etc.  Only that was quite interesting was if extra-curricular activities would increase the chance of getting into Cambridge University and funnily enough, they said that it didn’t.  Unfortunately, it did upset a few people.

After that, we had a short break and then current students at Cambridge University talked to us about their experience at Cambridge.  The lecturers were now talking about Applying to University and Why Cambridge University specifically.  There were four students who talked about what they’d like to be, what A-Levels they took, exam results etc.  The lecturers then went to talk about why someone is more likely to get a job from having a Cambridge degree.  They also presented a graph of how much Cambridge University graduates would earn within 3½ years of leaving Cambridge, some earning £50,000+ per annum which was amazing!  They also explained finance and the money and they reassured us that we wouldn’t pay any extra money for going to Cambridge University and it’s the same you’d pay for another university.  The lecturers also talked to us about life at Cambridge.  The tour guides spoke briefly about that and the lecturers went more in depth about it.

The lecturers explained how timetables and lessons work.  One thing that was quite scary was that one of the Admissions Tutors said and I quote “I expect one of the essays from my students to take three full working days”.  Thankfully, they didn’t say how long one was because I’m sure no one wanted to know!

To summarise, the lecture explained what Admissions Tutors were looking for and how a candidate can make a strong application.  They also introduced the University of Cambridge and what makes Cambridge University so special.

The entire lecture was an ‘eye-opening’ experience because I made me understand how the admissions at Cambridge and some of top universities in England work and how to get into them.  This trip was one that I greatly enjoyed, it was very interesting and it wasn’t boring.  It was a great Saturday out and I think that I’m very lucky to have an introduction of University life like the one I had on Saturday and I’m sure it will benefit me greatly.

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