As part of the Inspire programme, I went on a trip with seven other students to Aintree racecourse near Liverpool, where a conference was underway for prospective students at the universities of Oxford and Cambridge.
The journey to this was long and arduous. Setting off from Hull at 07:00, the minibus did not arrive until 10:50, nearly an hour after the first lecture had started. Upon arrival we split up to pursue our own interests in terms of subject areas. I began with a lecture on Chemistry and Earth Sciences at Oxford, given in the Corbière Suite.
In the afternoon I went to the Golden Miller Suite for two lectures: firstly on Making a Competitive Application, secondly on Student Finance and Careers. Finally I returned to Corbière for Natural Sciences at Cambridge.
The speakers throughout were keen to dispel the commonly circulated myths about elite universities – they insisted that dress standards would not factor into interviews and that student loan debt would not be a life-crushing burden.
While the lectures themselves were certainly informative, the venue left something to be desired. There were an estimated three thousand students crammed into a venue which could not hold them. This was especially notable at lunchtime when the two food outlets still open (the rest being closed off or used for lectures) were crammed to bursting point and dozens of students could be seen awkwardly sitting on the floor. The transition between sessions was also a tight squeeze as masses of confused wanderers ambled up and down a series of outdoor staircases.
While I must sadly report that I recall fairly little of anything said in the lectures given, I can at least be appreciative of the fact that such an event was offered. This was by no means the first such excursion on which I have been dispatched, and I certainly hope it is not the last.