We met with one of our students Jessica, who has taken part in a number of HEON events. Hopefully you will find it useful hearing about what we do from a student’s perspective.
What experiences of outreach through HEON have you had?
Through HEON, I have taken part in a couple sessions in my old senior school where we looked at career paths on a website that they ran us through, and I also took part in the summer school at Surrey University from July 1st to 4th, 2019, and the reunion that took place for it in December. During the summer school, there were a lot of interactive, informative sessions across a broad range of subjects like criminology, psychology, and engineering, as well as doing our own DNA testing practical in a lab. There were also some leisure activities in the afternoon where we just went to the cinema or went by the lake for food and to play sports, relax, or socialise.
What have you learned about Higher Education from this experience?
In my opinion, I learnt the most about higher education from the reunion session. I went into the HEON summer school relatively confident with what I knew about higher education as I had researched the topic rather thoroughly beforehand as it had always interested me. However, I had never found out details about finance such as maintenance loans and how they work. One of the sessions at the reunion was more about the finance side of higher education, and it definitely gave more of an insight of how it works in terms of affording living costs and just university in general and I’m very glad it was covered.
What impact has this experience had on your decisions about your future?
In the future, I always saw myself going to university, and I think that this experience has confirmed that I would definitely love to go and progress onto do a degree and a master’s after I’ve finished my A-levels.
What effect do you think a programme like HEON has on today’s young people?
I think the effect a programme like HEON has on young people would be to open them up to new ideas and experiences. Many young people probably don’t know what they want to go on to do as there are so many potential paths (subject wise as well as higher education wise, ie, apprenticeship or university), and thinking about your future can be intimidating at such a young age. However, I think programmes like HEON could definitely help to get them thinking a bit more and open their eyes to different subjects that they might not have heard of, and also inform them more of their choices in Higher Education so that they can choose what might be best for them. Also, I generally think that the idea of a summer school for programmes like HEON is incredible because you’re in a real university environment and you get to socialise with new people, as you would in the real world, and you also have more time to do the activities. It’s a completely new experience which I would recommend to anyone, despite it being initially nerve-wracking.
What advice would you give to other young people thinking about progressing into HE?
I would say not to feel too intimidated. Be open to new experiences and put yourself in situations you wouldn’t usually: don’t be narrow-minded! You will ultimately find the thing you enjoy and want to pursue as long as you are trying new things. There’s something for everyone, but it’ll take some time to find it, and make sure you’re passionate about it. In terms of whether to go to university or do an apprenticeship, research both of them thoroughly and make sure you know exactly what each one entails; both of them WILL eventually get you to the same endpoint, and neither is more superior than the other! For example, don’t feel pressured to put yourself into a university environment if you work more practically, because an apprenticeship will be far more beneficial for you. In the past, university was seen as the better option as apprenticeships were fairly new, but now, many employers actually prefer people who have done apprenticeships as they already have a lot of work experience behind them. That being said, if you work more theory-based and prefer to study and sit exams, then going to university will be better. Everyone has different preferences and you need to find the one that is right for you.