Student Blog: Hercules in North Yorkshire

NYMat19Over the Easter holiday, Angharad (2nd Year Biology & Access Rep), Joe Organ (Schools Liaison Officer) and myself, along with Maddy (1st Year Languages), Alicia (3rd Year Chemical Engineering) and Kathryn (School Liaison Officer) from St Catharine's College, Cambridge went around North Yorkshire state schools encouraging students to apply to Oxbridge. Both colleges have fantastic relationships with the schools in these areas. This was seen in the turnout of ex-pupils supporting us in our talks to schools with over 20 students returning to give their prospective on their time at Oxford and Cambridge. 

Powered by the tunes of George Ezra and Abba we carried out 21 sessions and covered over 800 miles, in our adeptly named van: Hercules! In four very action-packed days, we visited Selby, Ryedale, Scarborough, Whitby, Stokesley, Northallerton, Ripon, Harrogate, Richmond, Wensleydale and topping it off in Tadcaster. Each session would usually be talking to either year 10s or 12s, discussing the benefits of university and the differences to school, as well as the differences between the Oxbridge system and other universities. 

Whilst discussing the Oxbridge system one of the important jobs was to dispel the myths that surrounds Oxford and Cambridge. This ranged from showing them that Oxbridge is not expensive and in fact is relatively cheap to talking about the myths around the interview process. My personal favourite myth must be that during the interviews a tutor will throw a banana at you and see how you catch it! If only that was the case!

Over the days we settled into our own little scripts. Angharad gave a fantastic recount about a tutorial where they spent the whole time playing with Lego. Maddy beautifully explained the unique tradition of college marriages and Alicia put everyone to shame with an explanation of a bread experiment that she did for her personal statement. However, as the miles took their toll, stories seemed to merge. The mysterious Anna Merchant seemed to have had a profound effect on many people’s college lives, and a triple-decker sheep truck seemed to infect with the group with a bout of hysteria. However, Joe and Kathryn, the powerhouses of North Yorkshire access, provided a calming structure to the talks and I can only thank them for the amazing work and company that they provided over the week. I personally know that if it wasn’t for Joe talking to me back in year 10 with his myth-dispelling abilities as well as encouragement that Oxbridge is for everyone, I wouldn’t be in the position I am now in today!  

Now due to my own poor time-management skills I am writing this is July, for which I can only apologise. However, Oxford has just had its first open day of the summer, with thousands of people coming to look around Brasenose alone! Over the open days, we hosted prospective students from North Yorkshire state schools, and it was fantastic to see so many people who I talked to on the tour actually coming down to Oxford to look around the university. It is a great reflection on the positive impact that the tour has on access and is incredibly encouraging to witness to many students interested in applying to Oxbridge! I only hope that I continue this access work in the future years as it was such as rewarding experience!

Angus McKinney, 1st Year Economics and Management student, formerly of South Craven School and Ermysted's Grammar School

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