Hi guys, I'm Toby and I study Economics at the University of Bath. I completed the Brilliant Club Scholars Programme in Year 12 and, having finished my first year, I can confidently say that the programme helped me!
"Brilliant Club...? What's that?"
There have been many conversations where I've mentioned the Brilliant Club and received puzzled looks from friends who have never heard of it, so I'm going to make sure you're not like them!
The Brilliant Club is a UK non-profit organisation that works with the PhD community to support students from less advantaged backgrounds to access the most competitive universities. Their Scholars Programme, delivered by PhD tutors, helps students develop the knowledge, skills and confidence to succeed at the most competitive universities. The course that you complete is unrelated to the A levels you're studying, and is instead based on the research area that the PhD tutor is studying; in my case, we learnt about the causes and possible treatments of a rare eye disease called aniridia.
Structure of the Scholars Programme
The Programme begins with a launch event hosted at a top UK university. I got to go to King's College London and it was a cool experience to see the inside of the buildings and walk around the campus. We also met our PhD tutor and had our first tutorial, where we were introduced to the topic we would be studying over the next few weeks. Afterwards, we had 6 weekly in-school tutorials delivered by the PhD tutor and the format was like university-style teaching. We also received a handbook to support us and had access to a virtual learning environment where we could complete tasks set by our tutor.
After all the tutorials were done, I had to complete a final assignment, which was a 2500-word essay on using stem cells to treat aniridia, using all the knowledge and research skills I had gained on the programme. The essay was marked to university standards and with the university grading system (First Class, 2:1 etc.), and detailed feedback was given on my work. At the end of the programme, we were supposed to have a graduation ceremony at another top UK university but unfortunately COVID... happened. But we did at least receive a certificate upon completion of the programme.
My thoughts on the programme
I'll be honest, as someone who is interested in economics, banking, finance and things like that, the prospect of writing a fully cited and referenced 2500-word essay on aniridia of all things did not make me jump up from my seat. But although it was challenging, it felt rewarding in the end to see the progress I had made in a short amount of time, from not knowing a single thing about aniridia to writing a full essay about it.
Also, the programme directly helped me get into Bath, as it is part of the alternative offer scheme. I just had to email the Admissions Progression Team once I had submitted my application and they confirmed my grade with The Brilliant Club. This meant my required grades to get into Bath went down. The added flexibility around my results alleviated a lot of stress and gave me more confidence that I could meet my offer.
Transition to Bath
The benefits don't stop there! As well as helping me get into Bath, the Scholars Programme has been great in helping me settle into university life. Research is a big part of university life, and the research skills I gained from completing the programme have undoubtedly helped me during my first year.
It was also a chance for me to practice referencing for the first time, which meant that when I got to university I already had experience with citations and references, which has been a big help (referencing is still a pain though!). Experiencing university-style learning on the programme meant that it wasn't as big a shock coming to university and having to do a lot more learning independently.
If your school gives you the opportunity to partake in the Brilliant Club Scholars Programme, I would definitely recommend that you do it because it gives you an opportunity to expand your knowledge, gain important university-relevant skills, and makes your transition to university that bit easier.