(HE+ stands for ‘Higher Education Plus’)
The programme is run by Cambridge University, specifically Trinity Hall. It’s aimed at year 12 students who have the potential to study at Oxbridge. This year I was selected along with a few of my friends.
10 local schools selected their top 15 students to take part. The launch event was actually held at my school this year, so we were able to host the top students from all across the county. It was an exciting experience where we were given the opportunity to talk to students from different schools and get a special insight into Cambridge life.
The day started at 10 am where all the schools arrived and we sat down for a short 20 minute presentation that outlined what HE+ was and what the day would hold. We were then split into random groups of roughly 7. Nobody in the groups knew each other as each of us came from a different school. After a brief awkward introduction where we shared names we began the first task. Between us we had to take the Oxbridge admissions test and write an essay based on one of the four titles presented to us. I personally worked on the admission test along with another boy from a different school to mine.
Afterwards we went into the school canteen for our free lunch. (Probably the best part of the day). Most schools stayed together as we enjoyed our free flapjacks and shortcake. Afterwards we moved to the lecturing theatre where we embarked on an hour lecture by a representative of Cambridge. She spoke about the college systems, the entry requirements, the interview and the whole application process. At the end we bombarded her with our questions. What I was most surprised to hear was the fact that the entrance criteria was A*A* A for science subjects. Gulp. My hopes of Cambridge are out of the window.
At the end we had to decide which subject we wanted to study out of a list. For me there were four possibilities: Biology, Chemistry, Medicine or Vet Med. I ended up going for biology and put my name forward. Afterwards I found myself escorting the schools to reception, before heading home myself.
Overall it was an enjoyable but stressful day, which basically shattered my dreams of Oxbridge. But I now can make a realistic choice of university, I suppose!