Country: United Kingdom
Jamie George, a first generation university student from a low participating neighborhood wants to help others accomplish their own goals after progressing on to university with the help of a Summer school and University transition scheme.
Being a first generation university student and coming from a low participating neighbourhood/sixth form, the transition from sixth-former to student was not one I felt prepared for. As I made the step up from GCSEs to A-level, my head of sixth-form told me that he believed I would go to university, something which personally seemed overwhelming and slightly daunting. As much as I had wanted to leave my hometown of Peterborough, I had no burning desire to study a particular subject and I had no idea where I wanted to go.
At the end of Year 12 though I found an advert for a Sutton Trust summer school at the University of Cambridge for Sociology and was lucky enough to be selected. While there I met some of the most knowledgeable and driven academics and students and it really gave me the self-confidence that I could succeed at university. As soon as I got home from the summer school I looked at the league tables for sociology and found a Surrey open day was taking place the next week. On a whim, I booked a place and even though it was my first open day and I didn’t really know how to make the most of it, I was drawn to its proximity to London, the gorgeous campus, and the overall warm and welcoming vibe. I would go on to visit more campuses however I soon realised that Surrey was the one for me.
After results day and finding I had got the grades to attend Surrey, I still had doubts about the big move. My two main concerns were not being able to adjust to student life and money. Thankfully, the In2Surrey scheme helped address both these worries. First, the In2Surrey scheme assigned me an e-mentor (a current University of Surrey student) who I could message at any time as well as the opportunity for me and my parents to visit campus to meet staff and other prospective students. Second, as I exceeded my A-level offer the In2Surrey scheme also awarded me a scholarship which removed the constant financial worry I would’ve had without it.
Since I arrived at Surrey two years ago I have radically changed as a person (for the better)! My first year at Surrey I made great friends, loved my course, and as a result of my own experience with the In2Surrey, became a mentor for the next cohort of In2Surrey students. For second year I went on exchange to the University of Maryland and had the time of my life (that’s a whole other story!) and for third year I am on placement at the Department for Education as a social researcher, which I am also greatly enjoying. My university pathway is slightly different to the standard 3 year course however I couldn’t be more pleased with the opportunities Surrey has offered me. With this journey I have no specific end-goal, I just hope to graduate with a First, continue to travel and see the world, and hopefully manage to secure a job in education or social research where I can continue to help others accomplish their own goals, like various individuals and groups have contributed to me achieving mine.
This student voice story has been published with the kind permission of The University of Surrey Widening Participation and Outreach Team and the author Jamie George.