In this week’s blog post, Ysgol y Strade student Luke Thomas tells us about his experience at the UNIQ summer school last year.
When I started year 12 I had no idea what I wanted to study at university, so I spent my summer attending workshops, summer schools and gaining experience in a range of different fields in order to try and find out what exactly it was that I wanted to study, and decided to apply for the UNIQ summer school at Oxford University.
Luke and his UNIQ classmates at the Bop party
I chose to study Biochemistry at summer school since it was the broadest subject that was offered. The planned activities would have given me a talking point for a range of different subjects; medicine, biomedical sciences, engineering and, well, biochemistry! The application process was relatively easy, I had to write a short personal statement (2,000 characters) and fill in an online form about myself and where I came from. For many, including myself, this was the first personal statement that I had going to write so the organisers provided plenty of guidelines on how to write a successful personal statement.
The main misconception many have about Oxford and Cambridge is that it is full of ‘snobs’. But for me, I had another worry. Whatever university you choose, there will always be students of different backgrounds, including Oxford and Cambridge, so that didn’t bother me. But my main worry was that the summer school was going to be full of my idea of stereotypical Oxbridge candidates – a bit socially awkward and intimidating. I could not have been more wrong. Everybody that I made friends with on the course had the exact same worries, but within an hour of meeting everyone I knew that I could not have been more wrong.
At the summer school itself, the days mostly consisted of workshops. We’d spend the morning being briefed on the work that we were going to do and the afternoons were spent working in the lab. The whole course was structured so that we had an idea of what it’s like to study at Oxford, so each night, a variety of activities were planned so that we could see that the students there also have a chance to enjoy themselves. Two of the nights were spent at college allowing us to get to know the people there. On another night, we attended a formal in our subject groups, and there was also a guest speaker who had attended the university. On the last night, we all went to a Bop which is basically an Oxford party.
The summer school at Oxford made me realise how easily I get bored, not of a subject, but of studying the same subject. As a result, I realised that I needed a course where I could study a variety of subjects. After a bit of research, I decided to apply to Cambridge to study natural sciences, where I get to study different subjects tailored to me so that I don’t get bored! If it wasn’t for Seren, I would not have had the opportunity to attend the summer school. It was the Seren Network which informed my school about UNIQ and gave me the opportunity to apply. Seren also had arranged a personal statement workshop which helped us write successful applications, not only for UNIQ, but also for our UCAS application.
The summer school at Jesus College is also an amazing opportunity for Seren students, as it offers the chance to experience life at the university, just as I did, so you should definitely make the most of it and apply!
Applications for the free Jesus College summer school for Seren students are open until June 2nd. To apply, go to: tinyurl.com/JesusCollegeSummerSchool2017