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Blackburn students experience life at St John's

St Wilfrid's students with Access Officer Carly Walsh
St Wilfrid's students with Access Officer Carly Walsh

Students from St Wilfrid’s Church of England Academy in Blackburn got to experience University life on a two-day visit to St John’s College, designed to encourage local sixth-formers to consider applying to Cambridge when they make their university choices.

 A class of year 12 students from St Wilfrid’s came to St John’s to learn about how to apply to Cambridge and what to expect from student life. During the visit, the group got to experience both the academic and social side of a large and busy Cambridge College, where they attended lectures, stayed overnight in College accommodation and ate alongside students in the Buttery.

 The visit was organised by a former St Wilfrid’s pupil, Carly Walsh, who now works at St John’s College, helping future generations of students be informed about the application process and inspired to consider studying at Cambridge. Carly works with schools from all over the country to encourage applications by young people of all backgrounds. She said: “It’s a great experience to be able to give something back to my old school and local community, and to help break down some stereotypes of the sort of people at Cambridge.”

 One of the highlights of the visit was the chance for the class to ask undergraduates and academics at St John’s about their lives and work at Cambridge.

 Sophie Gornall, one of the St Wilfrid’s pupils who attended the visit, said: “I thought that students and professors at Cambridge would be intimidating and difficult to talk to, the sort of people who spend all their time working, but they were really normal, approachable and friendly. I hadn’t considered applying to Cambridge before this visit, but seeing how relaxed and welcoming it is, it already feels like somewhere I could call home.”

 Gareth Johnson, another St Wilfrid’s student, was unsure whether Cambridge was right for him, but talking to the current undergraduates changed his mind. He said: “I thought there would be a north-south divide, and that everyone at Cambridge would be really posh, but the students I met showed me that Cambridge is open to everyone who has a real interest and ability in their subject.”

 “The University is much more diverse than I was expecting, and there are students from lots of different regions and different countries. Studying at Cambridge would be a great opportunity to meet all sorts of new people.”

 Teacher Mark Trohear, who accompanied the group on their trip to Cambridge, said: “Visits like this one to St John’s College are important factors in raising aspirations and giving our pupils a sense of what they can work towards, by showing them what student life at Cambridge is really like. It helps to normalise it for them and show them that it is accessible to everyone – once they have experienced Cambridge from a student’s perspective, they can feel more confident about applying to the University themselves.”

 For more information contact Ryan Cronin Tel: +44 (0) 1223 338711, Email: rcc40@cam.ac.uk, or Carly Walsh Tel: +44 (0) 1223 339361, Email: c.walsh@joh.cam.ac.uk