Why did you apply for the programme?
I am the first child to ever consider going to university in my family and get this far. My mother hasn’t been educated since she was around seven and the rest of my family have dropped out before they got their GCSEs here or the equivalent in our country back home. I don’t live in the best area in Manchester and my high school’s grades were pretty average. I’m also a young carer for my two little sisters and my mother. I applied for the programme on a whim- I really didn’t think I was going to get in. I can’t afford to go down to Cambridge to look around and I’ve never been in a place to consider it seriously as an option. So, I just thought, “What’s the worst that could happen? I have the grades so I might as well.”, and then, I got in!
Did you have any worries before attending?
I was most worried that everyone would be smarter than me. My GCSEs were good, I got top-end grades, but talking to people who were smarter than me was terrifying. I thought I’d stick out like a sore thumb because I don’t act or look like a Cambridge student. But I learned that you’ll always find people smarter than you. You just have to understand it, accept it and learn from them.
What were your highlights of the programme?
I can’t decide on a single highlight of my experience- it’s a tie between the people I met and what I learned. It was so diverse, and I felt at home. And I learned so much stuff. The people in the pathology and biochemistry department never treated us like college students- they treated us like we were already enrolled in the university. Taking part in the summer school has helped me gain confidence. I feel like I’m a competitive applicant now, while before I just thought it would be lucky if I was offered a university place from any institution. I think confidence top-end integral when it comes to applying- if you don’t believe you have what it takes, why should an admissions tutor?
What would you say to someone who is unsure about applying?
If you’re unsure about applying, just do it. It seems daunting, especially if you feel that you’re not “Cambridge material”. There isn’t just one type of student a university wants – if you love your subject and you’re ambitious, you’re the type of student universities wants. As cheesy as it sounds, believe in yourself. The only way you 100% won’t get a space on a programme is if you don’t apply.