About our writer

Georgia graduated with a Masters Degree in Renaissance Literature from Girton College, Cambridge, last July

For many current A-level students, preparing for university is one of the most exciting and nerve-wracking times of their lives. With so many questions running through your head – ‘will I make friends?’, ‘Will the course be too hard?’, ‘Will I get too homesick and miss my mum’s cooking?’ – it can be easy to feel overwhelmed by the prospect of starting university for the first time.

One really good way to make sure you feel academically ready for the beginning of university is by taking on a pre-university preparation course, either just before you start university or in the years leading up to your application.

These courses usually take place over the summer holidays before term starts and offer several weeks of top-class teaching from an expert in your chosen university subject. On top of this, these courses often offer excellent extracurricular opportunities, the chance to meet motivated students from around the world to learn alongside, and – not to be underestimated – a truly fun way to spend a few weeks of your summer.

Read on to see how a pre-university preparation course could help you with the academic transition to university, boost your confidence and offer you a host of new experiences and the opportunities to make new friends too!

Get to grips with academia and boost your confidence!

For many students, the academic challenges of university are a substantial step up from what they are used to at A-level. With this in mind, a pre-university preparation course can give you a taste of what the academic standard is likely to be like at university, whilst being specifically tailored to offer as much personalised guidance as you need to help with this transition.

A lack of confidence can often hold back new university students in seminars, who are not used to speaking out in class and feel that their opinions do not matter, as a result of not wanting to ‘stand out’ from the crowd at school.

If you are studying a humanities or social sciences subject at university, I can assure you, your opinions absolutely do matter and it is definitely best to speak up in seminars rather than taking a back seat. A pre-university preparation course will help boost your confidence in this respect, meaning that you are ready for your voice to be heard when term begins.

After several weeks of stimulating academic courses from expert tutors in your field, you are bound to leave feeling inspired about your subject and eager to learn more when term starts properly!

Find your passion ahead of the game

A major advantage of these university preparations courses is that, by choosing one which is closely related to your chosen subject, you will explore material similar to that which you would study at university. In fact, if you are not sure which subject you want to study at university, or are deciding between two courses, taking on a university preparation course in that subject might be the ideal thing to help you make this all-important decision.

For many students, the A-level syllabus is too restrictive and does not let them discover what their true interests are within their subjects. With this in mind, a university preparation course offers you a taste of this in advance, setting the wheels in motion for when you get to university. Turning up to seminars already passionate about an aspect will certainly make you stand out in the crowd, and mean that you have a far better academic experience too.

Bonus: Fine-tune your university applications

If you’re still in the process of applying, or are waiting for your university interviews to take place, you’re in luck! Some pre-university preparatory courses – such as that offered by Cambridge Immerse – also offer university applications advice and guidance as part of the programmes.

Through Cambridge Immerse’s optional Interview Skills Workshops, students gain an insight into the core skills they need to articulate their viewpoints under pressure – such as that experienced in an Oxbridge university applications interview – and help you practice your debating skills in a safe and friendly environment, before the big day!

In addition, Cambridge Immerse also offers optional Personal Statement Consultations where students receive feedback from trained mentors about how to tailor their personal statements for their chosen course and universities. These services will boost both the quality of your application, and your confidence that it is the best possible application it can be, which really showcases who you are to your universities of choice.

Get ahead of the pack with the skills you gain

Not only can a university preparation course make you look excellent on paper (by helping you improve your personal statement through mentoring) but it can also help you stand out from the crowd through the skills you gain during the programmes.

On these courses, you will learn lessons which go well beyond the framework of the classroom, encouraging you to develop both intellectually and personally, through boosting your confidence, interpersonal skills and your social network too.

So with all of the above in mind, it might be worth thinking about whether a university preparation course is right for you this summer: you never know what lessons you’ll learn while you’re there, but I bet you’ll have a fantastic time finding out.

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