by Rhea Stacey, Year 12
The Sutton Trust is a charity that helps create and fund universities to set up summer schools for children living in areas where university rates are low. After learning about the opportunity through Sixth Form, I decided to apply for one and eventually ended up on a nerve wracking but nonetheless exciting and unique trip to Scotland’s capital, exploring university life both in an academic and social sense.
When arriving on Monday, we were given a thorough briefing about codes of conduct and the activities in store for the week. At first, it was quite daunting being thrown into a new environment knowing no one, but throughout the week I ended up making many friends as well as learning a lot about what it’s like to study at university.
The academic sessions, taking place on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, were a chance for us to experience a real life lecture with qualified academics at the University. My chosen subjects were Sociology and Philosophy, but the summer school also offered a wide range of Humanities subjects as well as Science and Maths. The sessions were varied, some being engaging and exciting, others being very serious and note driven but I appreciated the range we were given. Some topics we covered included smart energy to help climate change, feminism, and even time travel!
Nearing the end of the week we were split into groups depending on our main subject (mine being Sociology) and we all took part in a group project. This day was the most exciting for me, as we were put into a small group making it feel more personal and inclusive, and we were tasked to create a ‘snakes and ladders game’ based on social mobility, a term often used in Sociology but wasn’t too familiar with at the time. The academics, being two PhD students at the university, were incredibly engaging, polite and enthusiastic about the subject and made the session very enjoyable.
On Friday, there was a poster session where we got a chance to showcase the work produced on Thursday. I had the opportunity to speak to new people in other groups, as well as other academic leaders and really showcase my knowledge and passion for the subject. It was also a chance to look at what other groups had been doing – Engineering had made working tracks for a model car, Politics had challenged the controversial topic of Brexit, and Philosophy had explored what it means to have a mind. It was a very eye opening experience, one that I did not expect to enjoy but did thoroughly!
In the evenings, the programme had planned activities to take part in to get a feel for the social side of university. They were enjoyable but very tiring as many required a lot of walking! We did a bus tour of edinburgh, a walk up Arthur's Seat, as well as card and board games in the common rooms set up for us in the halls of residence, Pollock Halls. These helped a lot to make friends and make everything less awkward which was one of my main worries.
The week was finished off with a formal meal and party – a time to relax and socialise after a busy week.
Overall, my experience at the Sutton Trust University of Edinburgh Summer School was incredibly busy, but fun and really gave me an insight into university life. As well as learning about the academic side, I also had a chance to make new fr ends from all over the country that had similar interests to me that I otherwise wouldn’t find in the Sixth Form. I developed many skills whilst I was there and will take this experience with me into later life. After the whole experience, The University of Edinburgh has definitely crept up into my chosen university list for 2020, maybe not to do Sociology but definitely to do something I am interested in, as looking at the prospectus they offer a wide array of subjects that other universities I have looked at do not.