How to Not Stress about University - Kyra, Cambridge
Kyra - Law, University of Cambridge (Corpus Christi)
Kyra, currently in her 2nd year at the University of Cambridge, shares with us her worries when she received her offer initially, and her tips for students who might be feeling the same way about their own situation, regardless of university.
Managing exam stress
After I received my Cambridge offer, I was over the moon. But when the letter came and I saw what my conditions were (777, 42 for IB - equivalent to A*A*A*), my joy was replaced by immense stress because I wasn't quite sure that I would be able to make it! I actually ended up having a mini breakdown one day where I cried in my room alone for a couple of hours.
What helped me the most was talking to my mum and my favourite teacher at school about how scared I was that I wouldn't be able to meet my offer after working so hard to get one - and I think that for anyone struggling with the stress, having someone you can talk to about it, whether it's a friend, family member or teacher, will really help so, so much. At this point in your life, it can seem like university is the only thing that matters, but these people can help put everything into perspective for you. You can only do your best and nothing more, and giving yourself excess stress will only make you perform worse in the actual exams. Furthermore, Cambridge is usually quite good at giving people offers, in the sense that you are capable of achieving what they expect you to achieve. The fact that the university believes you can achieve it should boost your confidence!
To help deal with the stress, I threw myself into revision. I planned my revision schedule and gave myself enough room in case any topics took longer than expected to revise. I made review sheets for every subject, and did as many past paper questions as I possibly can for the subjects I was most scared of. I requested extra work from my teachers, and asked them to mark any practice essays I did in my own time. By the time exams rolled around, I was reasonably confident in most of my subjects to not freak out the night before the exams!
The last tip I would give is to choose your insurance choice carefully. It might seem counterintuitive for me to say this in a post designed to motivate you to get into Cambridge, but choosing an insurance that I knew I could get in, and that I would also be happy at really helped to cut down my stress levels. It makes your exams seem less like the be all and end all, and more like another regular step you need to take to finish high school!
Let me start off by saying that the majority of students at Cambridge have imposter syndrome. Everyone here at some point believes that they're not good enough, and it's completely normal. You spend your whole life hearing about how Cambridge is for students who are amazing at their academics, and unless you've always thought that of yourself, it shouldn't be surprising at all that you might doubt your own abilities every now and then.
Cambridge is tough, but it is also manageable. The university has been teaching for so long, and they know what their students are capable of! Having been here for a term, I've found myself pushed (academically) past what I thought I was capable of, and I've also received really great support from my supervisors when I needed it. Everyone is really understanding about the stress and the workload, especially for first year students, and support is available everywhere as long as you ask.
Making friends/fitting in (also related to being a BME student)
I think a big worry about university in general is whether you'd be able to fit in and make friends. What I wish someone told me was how nice most people in Cambridge are - everyone that I've met have been really kind, friendly and warm, so getting along with people isn't difficult at all! In terms of making friends, I really don't think where you come from matters - people don't see you based on the colour of your skin or your financial background, but rather on your interests and who you are as a person.
Also, fresher week events do help you meet a lot of people, and the amount of societies and events held in Cambridge every week means that you're bound to find someone who is interested in the same things you're into! Finally, if you have the opportunity to, I would recommend attending your college's offer holder open day - it'll help you meet some of the people who will be in your year, and I'm friends with quite a few of the people I met on it!