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Day in the life: Schools Liaison Officer

At Pembroke, we have someone who works full time in our admissions team running outreach work with schools. Here Emma shares a day in her life:

7.30am Go downstairs to put the kettle on. Once I have a mocha to sip on then I am ready to start the day!

8.15am Put on some music and walk to work – who doesn’t like a bit of cheese to listen to in the morning?

9.00am Arrive at work and turn on my computer to check emails quickly. We have to 30 year 12 students spending the whole day with us today for one of our big visit days, so I need to send an email to the staff to warn them that lunch may be busy later.

9.20am Run down to the Porters’ Lodge to let them know that we have school groups coming and to ask if they can give me a ring when they get here. Then run up to the Nihon Room to set everything up for the visit. I should then have time to dash back to the office and answer a few emails before they all get here.

9.40am I have just got a call from the Lodge to say that we have our first school arriving and they are early! Time to go and get the group, welcome them to Pembroke and take them to the Nihon Room for some refreshments before we get started.


10.15am After a couple more phone calls and trips down to the Lodge we have all 30 of our students here, so now it is time to get them started with a spot of ‘Human Bingo’ before giving the first talk for today. In the first talk we will cover course choices, careers, the collegiate system and the way that the University of Cambridge works.

11.00am On to talk number, two which covers student life and includes some examples of current student timetables. The students then need to use a price list to plan how they are going to spend a weekly budged of £40 on food and fun activities. There are some quite heated discussions about whether Frosties are an extravagance and whether a loaf of bread can last a whole week if you are having it for breakfast and lunch!

11.30am Our lovely student volunteers appear to give a tour of the College. I send the groups off and run back to the Admissions Office to sit down for 2 minutes with a quick cup of tea to check emails.

11.55am I head to the canteen. The groups should arrive here from their tours at 12.00 for lunch, so I need to be there to shepherd them through, double check they are clear how the system works and remind them all what they are allowed for lunch.

12.10pm All the groups have got their food – time to grab some for myself now and sit down with them for a chat.

12.35pm The students have now all finished eating so it is time to take them all back to the Nihon Room for the afternoon sessions.

12.45pm Dr Caroline Burt, our Admissions Tutor, arrives to give a talk to the group about making a competitive application to Cambridge. I get to sit down for this bit and listen to her talk, which is always fun.

1.30pm Caroline has finished her talk. The students get a quick break and then it is on to the final session for today about personal statements and interviews.

3.00pm The students have all interviewed each other and planned their personal statements. Now it is time to hand out the evaluation forms for the day and answer any final questions that the students have about Pembroke and Cambridge in general.

3.10pm Wave goodbye to the group at the Lodge and then nip back to the office to have a final check of emails and put away the things from today. I also now need to pick up the bits that I will be needing for the talk that I’m doing tonight. Once I have a prospectus, some open day leaflets, a map and a copy of the presentation then I’m ready to go.

3.30pm Leave the College and head back home to pick up my car. I am going to an ‘Oxbridge’ evening that a group of schools are holding tonight and I will be giving the presentation with somebody from Oxford – hopefully it will go well!

4.30pm Get into the car to drive to the school that is hosting the event. I hope that the traffic isn’t too bad on the journey.

6.30pm Arrive at the school a bit early for the talk. I introduce myself to the teachers and have a quick chat with them and make sure that the powerpoint is working. I also get the chance to meet the person from Oxford who I will be speaking with tonight and we decide who will be giving which parts of the presentation.


7.00pm We are introduced by the Head of Sixth Form and then we give a talk to the Year 12 students and their parents to explain how Oxford and Cambridge work and what it is like to be a student at the two universities.

7.40pm Our bit of the evening is done. I now get to sit back and listen to an past student from the school explain his experiences of the application process and what it is like to be a student at Oxford.

7.50pm Q&A time – back up to the front of the school hall to answer any questions that parents have about the universities.

8.20pm The final questions have now been answered so I head to my car and drive back up to Cambridge.

9.40pm Arrive back at my house in Cambridge. Time to curl up with a hot Ribena and then go to bed. We have another school group coming in tomorrow so I will be needing the sleep!

For details about visit days and Pembroke’s admissions team, and for information about applying to study here, see our website.

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