A bit about me:
My name is Marnie and in September I started the second year of my Chemical Engineering undergraduate degree. When I'm not in Bath, I live in a small seaside village in West Wales - basically the middle of nowhere. At A level, I studied Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics and the Welsh Baccalaureate (kind of like an EPQ) as well as AS Biology. Applying to university was really daunting at the time, especially when there are so many courses and location options, and my summer school at Bath really helped me to make my decision.
What is a summer school?
So, moving on from that bit of background knowledge, I'm currently writing my first ever blog post! And it has nothing to do with what I've been talking about so far...I'll try and be a bit clearer. So, what is a summer school? Basically, it's usually a week of taster lectures, activities and just experiences of university life in general aimed at helping you make a more informed choice about choosing which universities, and courses, to apply for in the future.
My summer school:
In 2017, I attended a Widening Participation (WP) summer school for engineering (now the Discover Bath residential) at the University of Bath. I loved it plus it was free!
I got to try out undergraduate labs, go to several specific engineering lectures (I remember going to one about tissue engineering and hearing this guest speaker talk about engineering a synthetic heart in the future - and I thought that was pretty cool), and live in real student accommodation for a week - all fun stuff. We also went for tours of the city and had barbecues by the lake - also nice 🙂
The summer school helped me quite a bit, mainly because I had no idea what engineering would entail before going, and also because it helped me to see where engineering could lead me in the future. Plus, when I started uni in September and turned up for my first laboratory session, I was at quite an advantage because I had already practised part of it during the summer school! Additionally, I was aware of all of the health and safety and risk assessment stuff that was new to everybody else.
I wouldn't say that the summer school made me work harder as such, but it made me work better if that makes sense - more efficiently and with better time management. And these are skills which I've definitely had to carry on and refine during the first year! So, I guess it probably did help me attain better grades and actually get into Bath - which is obviously a huge positive.
Why did I firm my place at Bath?
After going to the summer school, I knew that I would be applying to Bath. It's a beautiful city with good links to Bristol and London as well as being one of the best universities in the U.K. But, I decided I would probably firm my place at Bath (if offered) after attending several other summer schools during the holidays. At these, I realised how much of a friendly and welcoming atmosphere the University had and how I felt that I would definitely be able to fit in with the student community at Bath. This decision was confirmed after attending open days later on in the year - Bath just felt right for me.
My first year and the summer school:
When I received my offer from the University of Bath I was so excited. A few days later, I also received a letter from Sue Dimond (my summer school Outreach Officer at the time) congratulating me. This was lovely and made me feel like I already had some support going into uni, and made the whole transition seem a little less daunting. Since starting university, I have volunteered and have also become a Student Ambassador. The summer school actually helped me get both of these positions as it showed interest and also transferable skills - so I am still benefiting from a summer school I did almost 3 years ago! It is definitely worth going!
The advice I would give to potential students:
Thinking back to the summer school and before university, I would advise you guys to just take every opportunity you can (and definitely attend a summer school if possible) because you'll most likely meet some amazing people and make some really good memories, as well as giving you something to talk about in your personal statements that stands out!