We have recently held a series of Year 12 residentials for high-achieving sixth formers, and King's undergraduates have just returned from a tour of schools and colleges in the Middlesbrough area where they ran workshops on higher education. These activities are part of our continuous work with schools to encourage gifted young people to think seriously and access accurate information about competitive universities and Cambridge in particular.
Chatting with undergraduates at dinner
Year 12 students from East Yorkshire described King's College as 'a very welcoming and supportive community' and 'more down-to-Earth than I previously thought' when they visited recently for an overnight stay and a series of talks, workshops and tours.
Residential week brings school groups in our North East link areas to King's to get a taste of student life, dispel myths and have questions answered as they think about applications to Cambridge and other competitive universities. Year 12 students from Northumberland, Durham and East Yorkshire worked with Kristy Guneratne, our Admissions and Schools' Liaison Officer, as well as current undergraduates, King's fellows and the King's Archive Centre in a series of programmes tailored to each group.
For most talented young people, the opportunity to meet undergraduates, get their perspective on student life, and be reassured that they are 'just other people like me' (to quote one comment) is an important part of feeling that they will fit in and be happy at Cambridge.
Aside from choosing courses, finding out how the teaching works and what to do during the application process, it was particularly crucial this year that students understand the changes to student finance. Many cited cost as a factor that initially put them off Cambridge. They were reassured to learn about how loan repayments will work, the available financial support, and the University's commitment that no suitably qualified UK student should be deterred from coming to Cambridge by financial circumstances. Cambridge, they said afterwards, is 'for intelligent people regardless of background' and 'accessible for those who perhaps don't consider themselves able to afford to go.'
King's Access Bus tour 2011
The following week it was our turn for King's to visit the North East: the annual King's Access Bus tour. Two minibuses of King's undergraduates delivered a total of twenty-six sessions for Year 9, 10, 11 and 12 students in Middlesbrough, Redcar, Stockton-on-Tees, Darlington, Yarm and Hartlepool.
Lead by Jonathan Franklin (third year, English) and Joseph Quayson (third year, Politics, Psychology and Sociology), the volunteers shared their own experience of university life through a series of games and small group activities tailored to each age group, aiming to dispel misconceptions about higher education in general and Cambridge in particular.
The most popular activity this year was a clock activity: pupils drew a clock face and then had to decide how they might spend a typical day at University. They took in information about the teaching for their subject, the independent work they would need to do and the wealth of extra-curricular activities available. Many pupils were surprised at how much there is to do!
Year 12 students appreciated the chance to meet undergraduates doing courses they are interested in and to discuss applications with people who have been through the process. More than anything, the information increased their confidence: 'It's made me feel a lot better and clearer about applying to Oxbridge, and University in general' said one student from Prior Pursglove College.
The 2011 Access Bus was generously funded by King's College, King's College Students' Union and AimHigher Tees Valley. The College is grateful for the hard work and support of the school teachers and AimHigher co-ordinators who helped to make the trip possible and ensured that it ran smoothly.
Find out more
For more information about our work with schools please see our Schools' Liaison Initiative page. For information about courses, student life, finance and applications to King's College please see the study at King's pages. Kristy Guneratne, the College Admissions and Schools Liaison Officer, is always more than happy to answer queries from prospective students and can be contacted at .