Post UKAT Sixth Form - Student Perspectives

What do students think about their early experiences of university or work?

Some of our former students have written accounts of their first impressions of university or work- please see below.

We are always keen to hear from former students, whether it is to hear how well they are doing at university or in the workplace, or as speakers, keen to share their experiences with current students and offer advice.

First Impressions of an apprenticeship with London Underground– Emily

For the first day of my apprenticeship I attended an induction day at the head offices in Canary Warf, during this day we met the other apprentices that we would be working with. We also had talks from apprentices currently doing their last years as apprentices and they told us all about what work they'd been doing and what life as an apprentice is like. We met a lot of people from the company and they told us what a great opportunity we had been given and trust me it really is the best opportunity I've had so far in my life. We then had a team building exercise to break the ice and get to know each other properly.

Later in the week we went to the Transport Museum in Covent Garden to have a look around and have a talk from the company's managing director Mike Brown. He encouraged us to ask him questions about the company and was very enthusiastic about us being the future of the engineering industry. We even had a photo taken that ended up in the Metro! The rest of the week was spent enrolling at college, visiting other training centres we might be based at during our time as apprentices and starting our first assignments. I spend one day a week (Monday) at college (City of Westminster College) studying a BTEC level 3 in construction and the built environment and the other four days at the apprentice training centre in Acton studying for an NVQ level 3 in engineering and construction.

Since the start of my apprenticeship (almost two months ago), I've made so many new friends in and out of work and picked up an amazing range of new skills. I honestly couldn't encourage anyone more to go for an opportunity like this, because it will change your life in ways you couldn't even imagine!

My apprenticeship is an apprenticeship in Civil Engineering with London Underground and I'm the only Civil Engineering apprentice and one of only 3 girls in the 46 apprentices.

First Impressions of University – Sarah

I have just started my degree in English and American Literature at the Canterbury campus of the University of Kent.

I am currently living at home which has saved me money and given me the opportunity to keep my part time job. Although there are many advantages to living on campus, I have generally found commuting quite easy and it takes me around 45 minutes on the train and bus or 30 minutes by car. Despite commuting, I have still been able to be a part the social aspects of university. I have stayed with friends from CGSG who are living on campus and have also been able to meet new people as well.

I only have around 11 hours of contact time per week, which allows me to complete work outside of lectures and seminars, socialise and work part time, although it can still be difficult to fit everything in, especially with the amount of reading I have to do for my course.

After finally finding my way around and getting used to studying without so much help and guidance, I think I have settled into university well and am enjoying it!

First Impressions of University – Freda

I am studying BEng Mechanical Engineering Technology at the University of Greenwich at the Medway campus.

I am thoroughly enjoying it despite finding it hard to adjust to the change at the beginning. Everyone here is kind and the lecturers help you out when you need it. I recently submitted my first assignment on... wait for it - a large ratchet wrench! A surprisingly interesting topic!

I have joined the Badminton, Film and Wilderness Societies enabling me to make new friends and build my confidence. You get a lot of freedom in terms of your work so you can easily put your own spin on it. University allows you to grow into your own person and meet loads of lovely people along the way.

So far I would say the long and tedious process of UCAS and the exams were worth it!

First Impressions of University – Antoinette

University is as expected, very different to school. I had two weeks of fresher’s, which was beneficial in the sense that it helped me adjust to the new learning style, but it was pretty unfortunate for my liver. Fresher’s fortnight was the perfect opportunity to meet new people and get used to the surroundings.

Within the first couple of months here I had already completed a number of assignments and an exam. Luckily, I studied Government and Politics at A level, so I have a huge advantage over many other students. Public law is basically Year 12 Politics and Legal Philosophy looks at everything I learnt in Year 13 Politics.

Life at university is great, but no matter how many talks you have on it, you will not be prepared for the responsibility or independence. The teachers at school guide you through the work set, but at university you are entirely independent and it is so tempting to go out with everyone else instead of work. University makes you realise how much you rely on your teachers and I guarantee you'll miss them and CGSG when you leave.

First Impressions of University – Lucy

I’m studying Accounting and Finance in University of Greenwich. I love the university, it is a really nice area and the people I have met are very nice! The course itself is very good too and I know I’m on the right course since I really enjoy every lecture and tutorial I go to!

The first day was a scary day because I didn't know anyone and the university itself has big and confusing buildings. However I did meet a lot of people and have made good friendships already. The course I study is a very demanding course and I do need to put a lot of effort into it. I already have an essay to hand in which is going to be a part of my final grade for one of my modules.

The lecturers and tutors are very supportive and do help us a lot if we need help. Obviously we don't get “spoon-fed” like in secondary and sixth form but I do think I do get a lot of support, I was actually expecting a lot less. In the first week we had a maths test on basic skills and the test was to show us and the tutors where we need help and now they are doing support classes every week for people who didn't pass sections in the maths test or people who did pass but still want support. Also we get a lot of support on improving our employability skills. I have recently applied for a IBM mentor through the university. The mentor will help me improve my employability skills.

I do miss the small community I was in during secondary and sixth form but I really enjoy being in a different environment and meeting new people. I think the best bit is actually ending up studying what I actually want to do in my future career, meeting new people and expanding my social network.

First Impressions of University – Karen

I am currently studying Psychology at Bangor University.

The course is really good and interesting but involves a lot of reading. I would say that the main difference between university and school is the fact that you are expected to learn things for yourself. The lecturers will simply give you a topic and you have to write an essay on it and find your own books. However they are nice and you can ask them for help or email them any questions you have.

University is very different and it can be scary moving away from home, especially in the first few weeks but it gets easier. I know I made the right decision coming to university and it is a really exciting time of your life.

First Impressions of University – Corrine

I am currently studying Earth and Ocean Science at the University of Brighton. This meant that I also had to move away from home as well as the daunting task of starting University in the first place. I was not given a place in halls of residence so had to find my own rented accommodation, which was unbelievably stressful, as most of the rooms had already gone. Despite this, my house is great and I am living with a group of six other girls who all go to university studying various degrees. They are all lovely and helped me settle in really well.

The first week of university was good but the only problem was you were left with long periods of time not doing much because of all the academic things that needed doing like enrolling and for me, choosing the modules I was going to study in my first year.

The highlight was definitely Fresher’s Fair because of all the free things. Most people worry about making friends but everyone is in the same boat so it is surprisingly easy to make friends both in your course and outside of it.

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