Callywith alumni share their uni experiences

We recently welcomed back some of our wonderful 2021 student leavers to talk to our current Academic Academy students about their university experiences - from applying and living away from home for the first time to making friends and (occasionally) doing some studying!

Rhys, Jack, Riley, Alfie, Archie, and Maddy-Rose, all shared their varied and rich experiences of university. 

Rhys Metcalfe, who studied A Level History, Law and Politics at Callywith and is now studying History with German at Portsmouth University, spoke about applying and deciding which university to choose. Rhys shared: “If you can, go and visit the unis and look at the halls, as that’s where you’ll most likely be living if you decide to go there.” 

Rhys, who previously attended Poltair School, also shared his top financial tips including opening a student bank account, getting a student railcard, applying for student finance, as well as other discounts and money savings you can make as a student.

Next came former A Level History, Law, Politics and Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) student Jack Pomeroy, who talked about his decision to leave his Law, Criminology and Criminal Justice course at Plymouth University - where he lived at home in Cornwall to save money - to reapply to study Law at Bristol UWE. The long commutes, 5am wakeups and finding time for all student activities, led to Jack revaluating his university choices. To achieve this, he went back to his tutor at Callywith, Jonny, who helped him to reapply and to get to where he really wanted to be. 

Jack, who previously attended Penrice Academy, shared his advice with students: “Try to be 100% on your decision to go to uni, I know that’s not a guarantee, because you’ll chop and change what you want to do all the time. But make sure if you want to go to uni, stick with it, because there are financial implications if you interrupt your studies like I did. Also, speak to everyone for advice; your tutors, parents, whoever you want, as they’re the best to speak to about it.”

Former A Level Biology, Chemistry, Psychology and Medics’ Academy student Riley Griffiths, spoke to students about her experiences of studying Medicine at Exeter University. 

Riley, who previously attended Looe Community Academy, spoke about how despite not being able to visit the university before applying due to covid lockdown, she is happy with her decision to go to Exeter University. Riley took students through a week in the life of a medical student, from mornings in university halls, living with several people and navigating a shared bathroom to lectures and studying with other students. She also spoke about workshops she has participated in, getting practical experience of dissections, and even working at Exeter Hospital practicing clinical skills such as injections and how to examine people. 

Riley spoke about how there are a lot of things to do in a medical student’s week, as well as a lot of free time, which she takes advantage of including being an active netball player, as well as being active in other Exeter University student societies, meaning that there is always something to do. 

Riley shared how applying to study medicine is a bit different to other course applications: “I had to write a personal statement explaining why you want to be a medic and what skills you have that’d make you a good doctor, which I had to do by October. I also had to do a UCAT logic test.” She also recommended students intent on studying Medicine attend the Medics’ Academy; “as they’ll help you understand all of the stages of applying, as well as support you through them.” 

Former A Level Law, Business and Psychology student Alfie Branch, who is now studying Law at Cardiff University, shared how he originally applied for a degree in paramedic science, but after close re-examination of his skills, realised that he wanted to do something else. Unfortunately, at this time, his UCAS application had already been sent in and offers for interviews to study paramedic science were already coming through. 

Alfie, who previously attended Launceston College, shared how he felt at this time: “So, of course I had a meltdown, thought the world was going to end, and that I was completely screwed. But with the help of my amazing lecturers here at Callywith and many, many phone calls with UCAS, I was able to figure out what my next steps were.” 

This is where Alfie found out about UCAS Extra, a new service offered by UCAS which allowed him to withdraw from all his chosen universities and add an extra university in February, when he applied to study Law at Cardiff University. Alfie worked closely with his Callywith Law Lecturer and his personal tutor to make sure his grades met the entry requirements, as well as recrafting his personal statement. He was very excited to learn, a few weeks later, that he had received a conditional offer from Cardiff 

Alfie shared: “Over the next 6 months, I had finished my studies at Callywith, I enjoyed my summer break after 2 very strange years as a student, and when results day came, I found I had got the grades I needed. The past few months at Cardiff Uni have been some of the best of my life. University has loads and loads of different aspects to it, there is of course the academic side of things, but uni is also a very important time for your personal development. For many of you, it will be the first time moving away from home, and it comes with many hurdles, I remember moving knowing hardly anything; how to cook or do laundry, I felt like such a mummy’s boy. But you will learn how to become self-sufficient and get the first taste of adulthood. It’s very daunting but all of your friends and flatmates will be in the same position as you, so don’t feel alone.” 

Finally, Archie McNamara and Maddy-Rose Hunter spoke about their time at Cambridge University. Being in a minority of Cornish students who didn’t go to private school, they found common ground with each other and became friends.

Archie, who studied A Level Chemistry, Physics, Maths and Further Maths and attended the Academic Academy at Callywith, is now studying Natural Sciences (Physical) at Cambridge and Maddy-Rose, who studied A Level History, Biology, English Literature and Extended Project Qualification (EPQ), now studies History at the university. 

Archie, who previously attended Wadebridge School and Maddy-Rose, who previously attended Fowey River Academy, spoke about life at Cambridge, the Colleges they attend and the importance of staying healthy whilst at university. They also gave Callywith students some excellent tips for thriving in your first term: “Don’t stay in your room all the time, even though it’s really easy as all your lectures are online. And I only shopped every two weeks and I ended up with just bagels and butter for meals,” Maddy-Rose said.

They also told students about some of the societies and extra-curricular clubs Cambridge has to offer including the Cambridge Union, where you can debate high-ranking politicians, celebrities, and other important figures.

At the end of the talk, former students held a Q&A with current Callywith students about the application process, writing personal statements, attending interviews and how to use the College’s resources to get the best chance of getting into the uni of their dreams. 

Thank you to all our former students for coming back to visit us, we are very proud of you all and wish you the best of luck in your remaining time at uni and beyond!

For more of our former students' stories, visit our alumni page.