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HE+ Students Visit Cambridge

Posted on 3rd April 2017

Students take a tour of the University of Cambridge colleges

As previously reported, HE+ is a collaborative project between the University of Cambridge and groups of UK state schools and colleges. It aims to provide extra support to aspiring applicants of academically competitive universities. Hereford Sixth Form College is the regional hub for HE+ and delivers extension classes, masterclasses run by Cambridge academics and organises visits to the University of Cambridge.

This year’s students have just undertaken their first HE+ visit to Cambridge and Gabby Howell, who is studying A Levels in Biology, Chemistry and Mathematics, writes about her experiences here:

The College trip to Cambridge gave me a great insight into what the day–to-day life of an undergraduate student at Cambridge University is like. On the first day we had a Cambridge admissions talk as well as a Q&A session with some current undergraduates who go to Christ’s College. I found this particularly helpful as it dispelled any misconceptions and rumours we’d heard about studying at Cambridge, as well as explaining the extra-curricular opportunities that are offered.

The undergraduates then gave us tours around both Christ’s College and Emanuel College in which we got to see the gothic architecture that Cambridge is known for, as well as grill them with further questions. On Thursday, we went to masterclasses given by PhD students and supervisors at Christ’s College. I went to the masterclass on Cancer Research and Personalised Medicine, which was given by a student who was doing her PhD in Cancer Genomics at Christ’s College, as well as the Mathematics masterclass on Problem Solving, Code Breaking and Bioinformatics given by a supervisor and researcher.

Both talks were very engaging and gave a flavour of the style of teaching and work done at Cambridge. I especially enjoyed the talk on cancer because it was fascinating to hear someone who is on the frontline of cancer research, helping to further our understanding of how we can improve patients’ chances of survival, talk about her work. After the masterclasses we had some time to explore Cambridge on our own and get a feel for the city.

I stayed another day as I also went to a Biomedicine masterclass at Corpus Christi College on Friday. Here we were given three more talks on the topics of Bone and Mineral Metabolism in Health and Disease, Pain and Lessons from the Naked Mole-Rat and Malaria: the Most Dangerous Alga in the World all given by professors and researchers at Corpus Christi who are experts in their subject.

We got to meet some more current undergraduates who also showed us around the college, which gave me an idea of the differences between the colleges at Cambridge in comparison to the two I had seen the day before. We were also given a talk by Dr Michael Sutherland who is the admissions tutor at Corpus Christi about preparing a competitive application to Cambridge. This I found very useful as he summarised the components of what makes a good application and gave advice on choosing which course is right for you. 

Altogether the trip was a fascinating experience into what Cambridge life is like as well as a great opportunity to explore a new city.

Student, Jasmine Stanley, who is studying A Levels in English Literature, Fast Track Mathematics and Physics was also on the trip and gives her thoughts below:

The HE+ trip was a fascinating event which consisted of admissions advice, a tour of Christ College and two masterclasses. When selecting which masterclasses to attend I chose ones that were unfamiliar to me: Theology and Engineering. For a long time I have been considering taking a Mathematics course at university however after attending a really engaging and interesting masterclass on Engineering it made me question this decision.

The tours and exploration of the city enabled us to see the undoubted beauty and splendour of Cambridge. The residential also gave students from Hereford Sixth Form College and other local schools and colleges the opportunity to integrate and get to know each other.

Following the HE+ trip I was extremely lucky to be offered a place on the Women in Mathematics residential held by Christ’s College and Trinity College. During the three days of the residential we learnt what would be in store for a Mathematics student studying at a top university. Taking a fast track maths class largely dominated by boys, this residential gave me an excellent opportunity to meet other like-minded girls with similar interests and goals.

My experience was enhanced by the friendships I formed, attending lectures and attempting maths topics beyond the A Level curriculum including the uses of modular arithmetic and complex 3D geometry. Although the content concentrated on inspiring girls in Mathematics, extra activities such as a formal dinner in the Great Hall, a talk by Dame Frances Kirwin and a Science Festival hosted by Rob Eastaway and Dr Hugh Hunt, made the trip enjoyable and memorable.

I would wholeheartedly encourage students to apply for a residential as they are extremely informative and give a clear insight into whether the degree course is suitable.