I recently attended a chemistry masterclass at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. The focus of the day was to give potential applicants to Cambridge an idea of what studying at Cambridge would be like, as well as giving us advice on how to provide a competitive application.
The majority of the day took place in the McCrum Lecture Theatre, which is next to the main buildings of Corpus Christi College. The first lecture was focused on the properties of water, and the mix of theory and practical demonstrations helped us get a flavour of how ideas, more complicated than we had previously encountered, were explored at university. It was really interesting to observe the contrast between the relatively superficial nature of our education at school and the learning that goes on at university. Although it was not a formal lecture, it was a very useful experience to be taught in a university setting by one of the directors of studies for the college. In the afternoon, we also had a look at ‘Chemistry in TV Shows’. During this time, we looked at how some TV shows were flawed by looking at the problems with the chemistry that was taking place.
Part of the day also focussed on how to maximise your chances of getting into Cambridge. An admissions tutor gave a small talk on what they look for in an applicant, and there was an opportunity for questions at the end.
Around lunchtime, we were taken on a tour of the college to see the library and the courtyards and to have a look at accommodation. The tour was helpfully led by a current student, whom we could talk to and find out what studying at Cambridge was like, and also being part of Corpus Christi College. This was really helpful, as part of your application to Cambridge is choosing the college you would like to apply to. We then had lunch in the dining hall, which gave us an idea of what it would be like going this college.
In the afternoon, two Ph.D. postgraduate students spoke about their research in electronic structure and the applications of magnetic resonance. This really widened our perspective of the love of knowledge and learning that takes place at Cambridge, and opened our eyes to the possibilities that await us if we are really passionate about a subject.
Overall, the day was really helpful in giving me a flavour of what it is like to be a student at Cambridge, as well as in assisting in my decision-making about which college I might like to apply to.
By Estiaan Bredell