What are you concerned about?

Back court

Many thanks to students from the Hull are who recently visited King's. You may remember that we asked you to write down what you are concerned about at this stage, and said we'd answer some of your concerns here - we think that there will lots of prospective students who are worried about exactly the same things!

Leaving home

Student meeting

A student meeting in the bar
(Photo: Juan Zober de Francisco)

A couple of you mentioned this as a concern and it's certainly one that we meet a lot when we talk to students in schools. If you've not spent much time away from home before, it's worth bearing in mind that the terms at Cambridge University are short and intensive. Did you know that terms here only last eight weeks? Students can choose whether they go home in the vacations or whether they prefer to stay in College (international students often find this useful if they live too far away to go home every vacation). So when you're studying here, you won't really have left home - you'll still spend plenty of time with your family and friends from home as much as you choose to in the vacations. And in term, you can always chat with people on skype etc - it's never been easier to stay in touch with everyone. Importantly, though, you will find that you quickly settle into College life and regard your College as a second home with friends who you get to know really well because you see them all the time. There are also lots of people to talk to (no matter which College you are at) if you do need a bit of extra support.

Not being posh enough

Students on the Back Lawn

You definitely don't have to be posh! We know that it can be hard to get a sense of what it's actually like here, especially if you live some way away. One of our current students, Scott, has written about his experience of starting at King's, and you'll find very detailed pieces written by students on lots of courses on the student perspectives page. If you think it all looks a bit formal, you may enjoy these pictures from one of the King's fundays: file 1; file 2; file 3  and there's also a website called Be Cambridge, which has films and profiles which you might like to explore. The best thing is always to spend some time here (maybe on the summer open days - now open for booking) and chat with students - you'll probably find some who were once worried about not being posh enough too!

How to make my personal statement stand out

What we want more than anything else in the personal statement is for you to write about your genuine interests in your subject, and how you have developed your interests. You may find this FAQ on personal statements helpful. Sometimes trying too hard to stand out can be a bit distracting - we really just want you to be yourself so that your statement is helpful to your (potential) interviewers, to give them a bit of information about where your interests lie before they meet you.

What if I have completely no idea how to answer a question in an interview?

Think about the question carefully first, as you may be able to give a partial answer or explain what you are not sure about. Remember that it's OK to pause to think or to ask the interviewer to explain what they are asking a bit more. But if you have no idea at all, do say so. You won't be the first! Sometimes the interviewers may be able to give you a hint to get you started and then you'll be away, or other times, it may be that there's something that you don't haven't covered that you need, and it's helpful for the interviewers to find this out so that they can ask you a different question that will allow you to show them more about what you can do. Remember that the interviewers want to find out what you can do, so they will do everything possible to give you the opportunity. A really useful film to watch on interviews is this one.

Do I have to play a musical instrument fluently?


Do you enjoy thinking about music? Credit: Robin Zebrowski (cropped)

We assume that this is for an application for Music. You need not be a brilliant performer, though it would be unusual if you were not competent on at least one instrument. A piano technique roughly equivalent to Associated Board Grade VI (by the time you start the course) will be helpful. What is more important for the Music course at Cambridge is that you have a real appetite for approaching music as a subject of intellectual enquiry from a wide range of perspectives, and that you have the curiosity and motivation to engage fully with this challenging course. Of course if you are reading this and really enjoy performing on an instrument, you may be interested in taking the 'performance pathway' option. See the information.

More questions? They can be specific or general. Please don't hesitate to email us!

Date posted: 

Thursday 14 April 2016