Student Blog: A UNIQ experience

UNIQTo me, the idea of Summer Schools once symbolised a cruel punishment where kids were sent off to sit through tedious lessons on very dull subjects. However, that was before I got involved with the UNIQ summer schools. UNIQ is a series of free week long summer schools run by Oxford University, open to Year 12 students at state schools. The participants live in an Oxford college for the week, and study a chosen subject (not necessarily the one they eventually chose as a degree). As well as attending lectures and tutorials, the UNIQ programme is full of other activities, such as comedy shows and sports evenings. The programme is partially run by Site Managers and Academic Mentors who are current students at Oxford and are always on hand to help the participants with everything from finding the department buildings, to making sure they have enough to eat.

I first became familiar with UNIQ at the end of year 12, when I was fortunate enough to participate in the programme. It was a packed week of first-time experiences; the first time I'd travelled outside of London by myself, the first time I had lived without my parents for a week, the first time I'd been to a lecture, the first time I'd even read anything academic outside of my school curriculum. I made some great friends, and learnt so much about my subject that I'd never considered before. During my week at UNIQ, I began to realise that perhaps Oxford wasn't as scary and unachievable as I had previously thought. In fact, the week gave me some much needed confidence to apply the following October.

Now, two years later, I have just finished a week of working for UNIQ as a Site Manager. This meant that I oversaw the Year 12s who were participating in UNIQ and happened to be staying at Brasenose College. A standard day for me would consist of getting everyone to breakfast and off to their lectures on time, perhaps giving a few quick tours around colleges at lunch, before helping out with any academic questions that arose throughout the day, and then taking everyone to evening activity after dinner.

Along with my lovely team of mentors, we had an absolutely fantastic week getting to know the younger students and chatting about life at Oxford. Once again, it was a week of first time experiences; I had more responsibility than ever before, ensuring that all the participants were safe, happy, and most importantly- on time! I was also lucky enough to witness the Year 12's enjoy all of Oxford's quirks for the first time- everything from formal dinners to fancy dress 'bops'.

I think UNIQ is particularly valuable, because although it provides a wealth of information on the admissions process and course structure, the Year 12 students also get heaps of time to talk to current students. There is no better way to get to know a University than by living there for a week and asking current students as many questions as possible! This is why I have loved both of my experiences with UNIQ, especially as this year I was able to help other students realise that Oxford isn't as intimidating as the myths surrounding it.

By Chloe Wall (Geography First Year)

Read more about UNIQ and Geography at Brasenose

The photo shows the Brasenose College UNIQ group spelling out "BNC" (for Brasenose College) on the Quad grass.

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