Pembroke and St. Catharine’s Colleges have this year hosted two Summer Residentials, attended by 44 sixth form students from state schools and colleges across the country.
The first event, ‘Mathematics for the Physical Sciences’ was aimed at the engineers and physicists of the future. It gave participants the opportunity to apply their abilities in mathematics and physics to real-life problems, from simulating the landing of a probe on Mars to calculating the effectiveness of possible means of reducing CO2 emissions, and to explore the differences between Newtonian and relativistic physics.
One participant, Kate, from Melton Mowbray said: “It helped me see what university study would be like, and highlighted Cambridge as the place I would love to study!” Connor, from London said “It made my head hurt – but in a good way!”
Dr. Gábor Csányi, Director of Studies in Engineering at Pembroke College and Senior Lecturer in the Department of Engineering said: “The students in attendance were a delight to teach, actively curious, and ready to participate in a detailed technical discussion of an unfamiliar topic.”
The focus of the second event was Languages, introducing participants to the different language and language-related degrees on offer in Cambridge, through the Modern and Medieval Languages, Asian & Middle Eastern Studies, Anglo-Saxon, Norse & Celtic and Classics courses.
The event revealed the diversity of opportunities a languages degree can offer, through sessions and workshops covering literature, politics, history, and linguistics, spanning from stone carvings in ancient Greece to extremism in present-day Egypt, via werewolves in medieval France and nuns in Renaissance Italy. The participants also had a taste of learning a new language: Old English. Within 20 minutes, they were confidently reading and then telling each other out loud that “the man drank the broth”.
Dr. Abigail Brundin, Director of Studies in Modern and Medieval Languages at St. Catharine’s College and Senior Lecturer at the Department of Italian said: “At a time when uptake of modern foreign languages is still on the wane in British schools, targeted events of this kind are an excellent opportunity to engage with students and get the message out there about the importance of language learning. This year’s attendees were an exceptionally engaged and able group, who got stuck into all the activities with gusto. I really hope the experience will encourage them to consider seriously a languages degree in the future.”
Each event included presentations and question-and-answer sessions with Admissions Tutors Dr. Caroline Burt and Dr. David Bainbridge, and participants also took part in an academic interviews workshop. Pre- and post-event surveys show that participants’ overall confidence in applying to university and in applying to Cambridge increased following their time at the residentials.
Careers advisors from the University Careers Service outlined to the participants the varied destinations of recent University of Cambridge graduates, highlighting both those who use the subject matter of their degree in their work every day, and others who use their transferrable skills in a surprising range of other fields.
Schools Liaison Officer Laura McGarty said: “The Summer Residentials were designed as a chance for the participants to experience both teaching and student life at the University of Cambridge, and to equip them with skills and confidence to submit strong university applications and achieve highly in their Year 13 examinations. We have very much enjoyed having such enthusiastic and determined groups of young people at Pembroke and St. Catharine’s. The undergraduate students who worked on the programmes did a fantastic job of putting the participants at their ease, and of sharing their experiences of applying to university and studying here in Cambridge.”
Pembroke and St. Catharine’s Colleges are linked to Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Leicestershire, Northamptonshire, Rutland, Suffolk and the London Borough of Southwark through the University of Cambridge Area Links Scheme. The Schools Liaison Officer has worked with over 2700 secondary school students so far this academic year to raise aspirations and to encourage applications to Higher Education and to the University of Cambridge.