A-level student Carla Briggs has been trying out life as a Cambridge undergraduate, as one of 420 participants in the 2015 Cambridge University Students' Union (CUSU) Shadowing Scheme.
Organised annually by CUSU, the scheme aims to give bright young people from non-university backgrounds the opportunity to experience life at a top university.
Carla, 17 from Long Lane Grays, is currently studying A-level Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics and Psychology. At Cambridge she teamed up with students from other Colleges attending lectures, supervisions, and social events, for a taste of what undergraduate life at the University is really like.
Carla who is interested in studying Science at university, said that her experience as a shadow really changed her thoughts about Cambridge.
She said: “My three days on the shadowing scheme were amazing and a real eye opener. I really thought it would be hard to fit in but it wasn’t. Taking part in all the activities made it much easier because we got to mix with students already studying there.”
Helena Blair, Access Officer for CUSU and one of the organisers of this year’s scheme, explains: “The Shadowing Scheme gives bright students from state schools the chance to experience university life, and really helps to break down the myths surrounding Cambridge.
“We know that some students may be put off applying to Cambridge by misconceptions and negative stereotypes, while others just may not have considered Cambridge or Higher Education as a viable option at all.”
This year’s Shadowing Scheme was the biggest yet, with priority for places given to young people with a strong academic track record, but who attend schools with little experience of sending students to Cambridge or Oxford, and who have few family members with experience of Higher Education.
‘Shadows’ stay in a Cambridge college, attend lectures with their undergraduate mentors, and try out social activities with the University's student societies. Cambridge’s 700 societies cover almost every interest, from journalism to American football, and theatre to debating.
Applications for the 2016 Shadowing Scheme will open in October 2015. More information is available at: www.applytocambridge.com or www.applytocambridge.com/shadowing
CUSU also offers free talks about Cambridge and university life, delivered by Cambridge students, which schools and youth organisations can request via www.target.cusu.co.uk.