Trinity Teaching Tour

The University of Cambridge visited campus for a series of one-to-one practice interviews and lectures as part of the College's More Able and Talented Programme  which specifically focuses on supporting students to 'Apply for Oxbridge and Russell Group Universities'. 

Lecturers and students from Trinity College, Cambridge provided the sessions to fewer than 10 Colleges in Hampshire.  Hannah Seeckts, previously at Eggar’s School, Annie Coloe, previously at Farnborough Hill School and George Baker, previously at Frensham Heights School, attended the sessions and are part of Alton College's student magazine 'The Alternative'. They found the sessions invaluable, here describing the 'Trinity Teaching Tour' experience:

‘On Wednesday Alton College’s Oxford and Cambridge University applicants were treated to an exclusive interview skills presentation and workshop organised by our MAT and Oxbridge progression coordinator Dr Daniel Duffy with support from our MAT administrative specialist Kim Small. Travelling to just nine colleges in Hampshire, admissions staff and students from Trinity College Cambridge were on hand to impart vital advice and tips for what is a stressful process regardless of university choice. Shortlisted applicants at both Oxford and Cambridge are guaranteed to have at least one interview, so naturally students were eager to hone and practise interview skills in a formal setting. 

After the Trinity Team were warmly welcomed by College Principal Sara Russell, our cohort was divided up into subject specific groups of two or three students and assigned to a supervisor from Trinity College. An Oxbridge interview can take many forms, and supervisors used a variety of unseen stimuli and questioning techniques to try and give an accurate sample of what an interview might entail. “It was quite challenging”, remarked Lisa Winkler (previously at Bohunt School), applying for Natural Sciences at Cambridge, “answering the questions was hard so we had to find different ways to go around it”. Jasmine Anwar (previously at Weydon School), applying to study Mathematics at Oxford added “hearing from a successful applicant has definitely helped reduce the stress (of the application process)”. 

Key qualities that Oxbridge admissions tutors want to see include an ability to adapt and change a viewpoint during the interview. The Humanities subject group were given a number of philosophical quotations to explore, interpret and evaluate; no mean feat in the heat of the moment! “Stay calm, talk about the problem, speak clearly, write everything out” was the advice from one of the Trinity supervisors. English applicant supervisor Chris Scott, a Cambridge PhD student, was eager to point out that any student regardless of background can have the skills that Oxbridge Colleges are looking for. He told us “Our aim for the whole tour is to come and show that Cambridge is a place which people from Alton College can aspire to go to; it’s a realistic aspiration”. Trinity’s schools’ liaison officer, Caitlin de Jode commented she was “really impressed with the engagement of the [Alton] students” and reflected “the PhD students really enjoy talking about their subject to people who are just starting the process”, enthusiasm which certainly shone through. Her main piece of advice to students who are called to interview was “Be as honest as you can, be true to yourself and give it your best shot!’’ 

Running concurrently, and ensuring that all students are aware of this realistic aspiration, was a lecture from Cambridge Neuroscientist Baland Jalal for Alton College first years. “Baland’s cutting edge research explored the way in which puzzling phenomena ascribed to ghost attacks and alien abduction can be explained”, observed Alton College teacher Stephanie Richardson, “I overheard students leaving the lecture commenting ‘Wow, that is why I want to study medicine’”. 

Both events served to showcase the opportunities available to students as well as the skills needed to achieve their full potential.'

Photo credit - Alice Farrington