Applying to any university is a daunting task.
But when the institution in question is Cambridge, the stakes can feel even higher.
Luckily for one current Year 12 Space Studio West London pupil, advice was available from a former student at the STEM-focused school.
Aspen Hatton recently spent the day at Cambridge University with Rory Cockshaw who aced his Maths, Further Maths, Chemistry and Physics A-levels at Space Studio West London achieving an A* in each subject in order to take his place to study Natural Sciences at Cambridge in 2019.
Aspen is also an academic high flyer with a passion for zoology and earth sciences and is on course to achieve an A* for Biology, Chemistry & Physics.
Unsurprisingly the academic rigour offered at Cambridge makes it a serious contender for Aspen.
Stephanie Lee, Careers Lead at Space Studio West London, organised the visit for Aspen. She said: “Cambridge is a university I know Aspen is interested in attending and to be able to use pointers and advice from a former Space Studio West London student was too good an opportunity to miss.”
Here Rory and Aspen share their stories with the Hounslow Herald in the hope of inspiring other students with their academic journeys.
“Cambridge is definitely one of the universities I’m interested in because of the academic rigour it offers, it’s rated no 1 for zoology and has many different colleges. It’s a prestigious university with a lot of funding.
“The chaplain on site was nice and I also liked walking around the zoology museum. Cambridge is rated no 1 for Zoology and this is something I’m keen to study.
“Rory was very welcoming and gave me lots of good advice. I very much enjoyed my day at Cambridge.
“Rory gave lots of good advice to prepare for the admissions test at Cambridge. He said to complete lots of practice questions, to expect questions you don’t know the answer to – the aim here is to see the thought process that applies to trying to answer a question you don’t know the answer to. He also said that anyone applying to do a science-based degree would be expected to have a good knowledge of maths.
“Reflecting on the day, I would say to people interested in applying to Cambridge, don’t assume Cambridge can’t be for you. Just because it has a reputation as a posh place, people assume it is full of pretentious people. But everyone was really nice so don’t assume that it’s not for you.”
“I’m now just weeks away from graduating and it feels like the last three years have just flown by. I’ve filled my time with extra-curricular clubs, societies and rewarding study.
“It has been fantastic. It has had its ups and downs because of the pandemic but being involved in so many societies has helped me to grow as a person. I’m on course to achieve either a First or a 2:1 and I will be happy with either.
“Aspen was lovely and I can see them getting on at Cambridge. The Space Studio West London patriot in me definitely wants to get more students at the school to come and see and experience Cambridge.
“In terms of advice to post-16 students thinking about their next steps and applying to Cambridge, I would say, a lot of people don’t apply to Cambridge, even though they should, because they don’t think they will fit in. On the other hand, some people apply to Cambridge because they think they should even though it is not right for them.
“For university in general, I would say people should do what is right for them.
“I have many fond memories of my time at Space Studio West London, I love the community atmosphere at the school: It’s small so everyone knows each other.
“One thing at Space Studio that really prepared me for university was the project based learning that takes place. I have been working on lots of projects during my time at Cambridge. I’ve also taken on board the lessons that I learnt at SSWL about pushing the boundaries and immersing yourself in new experiences.”
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