In 2018, I was lucky enough to be selected to attend a Biomedical Science summer school at Imperial College London run by the Sutton Trust. Leading up to it, I was terrified - I’m from a small town near Birmingham, attended a state comprehensive school and had only been to the capital once or twice before, so the prospect put me well outside my comfort zone. As I made my way from to the South Kensington campus from the station, the area was like nothing I’d ever experienced. With long streets of elegant townhouses interspersed with various embassies and the Royal Albert Hall just a stone’s throw away, surely people like me didn’t study here? However, the week I spent at Imperial helped cement the fact that university was a route that I wanted to pursue, and that such prestigious institutions were accessible to people like me.
After various introductions and ice-breakers, the week was spent undertaking different activities common to a science degree. This included lectures, problem based learning, labs, and even a practical session involving taking blood samples from a dummy! Being able to talk with lecturers and students made the university environment feel much more welcoming, and receiving advice on admissions and costs made the prospect of going to university feel less daunting. We also stayed in university accommodation, giving us a real taste for student life. As well as the academic side, the Sutton Trust also put on activities in the evening, for example we saw Woman in Black at the Fortune Theatre, went for a group pizza night and had a fancy formal dinner at a nearby hotel on the last evening.
Without my Sutton Trust experience, I would never have even considered applying somewhere so unfamiliar to me as Imperial, and I was really delighted when an offer came through the following January. Although I decided to study elsewhere, I’m so grateful for the week that I got to spend exploring university life and I’d encourage anyone who’s eligible to apply for any of the Sutton Trust events. They’re completely free and can make higher education feel much more accessible, no matter your background.