Ten students were given a sneak preview of life at Gonville & Caius College when they took part in the Bridging Course, with participants recommending the experience which supports the academic and social transition from school to the University of Cambridge.
Caius joined Christ's and King's Colleges in offering the free course from summer 2021. A small number of offer holders identified during the admissions process as most likely to benefit from the course participated in both academic and social sessions – in person, and online – to help familiarise themselves with the city, the College, and life as a student at Cambridge ahead of matriculating in October at the start of Michaelmas Term. Accommodation and meals were included, and further financial assistance was provided for travel and other experiences during the week.
Tara Alton (Psychological and Behavioural Sciences 2021), who is from the Isle of Man, said: “It really helped with that transition from sixth form and A-Levels to university, where all your learning is more independent rather than being centred around lessons and teachers.
“I really enjoyed having the small group teaching and being set some essays to get a taste of what’s expected.”
It really helped with that transition from sixth form and A-Levels to university... to get a taste of what's expected
Georgia Beale (Anglo-Saxon Norse and Celtic Studies 2021), a first-generation student from Hinckley, Leicestershire, added: “I really enjoyed it and it was very useful, especially doing the supervisions and mini lectures, because I didn’t really know what to expect. You read about it, without knowing what it’s going to be like in practice.”
Student mentors already studying at Caius offered support and practical advice which was as valued as the academic offering, especially after restricted opportunities for visits due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Aoife O’Driscoll (Linguistics 2021), from Crawley, said: “Not being able to visit Caius beforehand due to the pandemic meant having the week at Caius was really nice.
“It was good to get to know people before we started and to get to know the city.”
Charlie Summers (History and MML 2021), from Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire added: “Casual conversations helped me to learn what life would be like here, and the academics helped to develop the skills we need and we’re now using.”
First-year undergraduate students on the Bridging Course, pictured with Caius students who acted as mentors