Max Rees, second year medical student at UCL, tells us all about what it’s like to study at the prestigious university and offers some top tips for current Seren students:
“I knew pretty much from a young age that I wanted to study Medicine, but never thought I’d be able to get the grades. Nevertheless, I researched into universities and came across UCL and I instantly fell in love with: the buildings, the locations, and what the university stood for… a university who was built upon accepting students due to merit and not background. Even now as a second-year student, I’m still in awe walking through the campus.
“There is so much more to UCL than just its appearance however. The student life is very active with there being such a large Students’ Union. This provides such a great opportunity to try new things or continue with your hobbies and extra-curricular activities you were involved with before university. As well as this, it gives you an opportunity to make friends outside of your course, who share other common interests as you.
“As a medical student, my week consists of: tutorials, seminars, lectures and lab sessions. Each providing a totally different way of learning, with lectures teaching you the information and knowledge required for the course, and seminars and tutorials allowing you to discuss what you’ve learnt in more detail, helping you see things in alternative ways of thinking. Lab sessions include: practical sessions, computer-aided lessons, and anatomy dissection/prosection. All of these allow you to put what you’ve learnt into practice, or to visualise what you’ve learnt (especially for anatomy). Alternating between different teaching styles really helps with understanding and helps you to realise the things you don’t understand as much.
“With the university being in such a central location, it’s so easy to go for a walk and sight see whenever you have a break from lectures or revision. I feel like this, along with being a member of different societies, really helps me to de-stress. You have the hustle and bustle of a big city on your fingertips which makes London such an exciting place to live, and you’ll find that there’s always a new bit of the city that you’ve never seen before!
“UCL offer so many Open Days for prospective students and most of these are run by present students which is really nice because you get the chance to speak to someone first-hand on how they’ve experienced university life, and what their favourite things about the university are. Once you’ve applied, and have been offered a place/interview, you are usually invited to a Department Open Day so that you can get a taste of what you’ll be studying. This is very helpful because it also makes you familiar with the building, and the style of teaching before you begin studying.
“Being a member of the Seren Network, I learnt so much from the individual sessions put on for my subject choice. It is a super-curricular activity and helps you to learn beyond what you would in the classroom. I was able to discuss this in my personal statement and give the reasons as to why learning things that were medicine-based really interested me. It was an opportunity I, otherwise, wouldn’t have had if I wasn’t a part of it. As well as this, some sessions really highlighted the important of medical ethics, and helped you to begin thinking more holistically about certain topics. This really helped when it came to university interviews. Another aspect of Seren Network are the trips to visit certain universities which helps you to consider applying to other universities that you didn’t think of previously, and it can also change your mind about a university that you thought you really wanted to apply to.
“To conclude this, granted, a very long blog (apologies for this… I do tend to babble on) I just wanted to give you a few tips for both Year 12 and Year 13:
If you’re in your first year of sixth form or college, focus on trying to get relevant work experience and do some extra reading on things that interest you. These will really help when writing your personal statement because you can home in on the skills you’ve learnt and developed by doing so.
If you’re in Year 13, and are in the process of applying, don’t stress too much and don’t let not hearing back from your choices distract you from your school studies. It can be quite a stressful year, so try to find an activity that helps you to relieve the stress.”