Cambridge University Lecturer Encourages Students to Apply
26 March 2012
High achieving students from Salford City College’s Pendleton Sixth Form Centre were invited to meet with guest speaker, Dr Helen Thompson, Lecturer at Cambridge University, and discuss why the Oxbridge Universities should be part of their university choices.
Helen spoke of the stereotypes linked with students whose applications are successfully accepted at both Oxford and Cambridge Universities and the negative impact they have on those students who do not feel they fit in to these pigeon holes; “There are lots of people who have the ability to attend Oxford or Cambridge Universities, but do not apply. This is mainly due to the popular pre-conception that only individuals from private school backgrounds are offered a place and that students from comprehensive and state schools are not considered. In fact, each year, around 62-66% of students accepted by Cambridge University are from state and comprehensive school backgrounds, and so this is a pre-conception that we are trying to address and change.”
Statistics show that of the applicants to Oxford and Cambridge each year, only 5% are from the North West of England, though, despite this, the conversion of successful applicants from this region is quite high and so an incentive for students to apply to both universities. As university fees change, it is now no longer more expensive to attend either Oxford or Cambridge Universities in terms of tuition costs; both universities also offer subsidised accommodation which can be a more cost effective option for many students.
Helen touched on her own experience of visiting the Oxbridge sites as a new student reviewing her university options; “I came from a comprehensive school in Milton Keynes and decided that as soon as I arrived at the Oxbridge University Open Day, that I did not belong there. Everyone was pleasant during the day, but I never found the lecturer I was looking for and so came away believing that it was the university staff that had treated me differently to all of the other potential students there and so I ended up applying for another university. Some years later it dawned on me that the only person who had alienated me from the university was myself; I had achieved the required grades at A-level to have attended, but my own self doubt had deprived me of that opportunity. The moral of the story is: If you’ve got the grades, apply. You have all got a chance of getting in to Oxford or Cambridge, regardless of where you are from.”
In addition, students were offered tips on the best way to stand out in the application process; these included reading around the subject of interest to broaden knowledge which would help during the interview stages; submit a piece of original written work alongside the application form, for review and also not to focus all energy on the personal statement when, in fact, the interview is generally the main deciding factor of the process.
Also in attendance was Councillor for Worsley Ward, Graham Compton who said; “I am delighted to have been able to introduce Salford City College and Cambridge University. Pendleton Sixth Form Centre impressed Dr Thompson with the enthusiasm and encouragement their staff showed and I now hope that students have no fear of applying to Cambridge and rise to the challenge. It is also excellent news that the students will have the opportunity to visit the Cambridge colleges in July 2012 during a residential trip. Hopefully, we should see a few gain successful admissions in December. Dr Thompson was pleased with the visit and hopes to make this an annual event between the college and the university.”