I and a group of friends are currently setting up a new university society, the Cambridge Aspire Society, which aims to link Cambridge students to those studying A levels from widening participation backgrounds for a series of mentoring and workshops. We are liasing with our partner organisation, the Aspire Program, to form links with target schools and reach out to those students who would benefit the most from the program.
To officially launch the society and welcome new volunteers, we held a welcome drinks event at Newnham College. This was a great success – plenty of enthusiastic students came to ask us questions about the program, pick up some information leaflets (and free doughnuts!) and offer to volunteer as mentors, program developers and committee members.
Now we are working on developing the year-long mentoring program for each subject, which will consist of informal mentoring alongside online workshops structured around particular academic topics. The idea is to encourage students to think about how studying at university, particularly a university like Cambridge with it’s supervision system, differs from school – for example the focus on developing your own ideas and arguments. Study skills sessions will supplement this in order to enable students to achieve the top grades needed for their university applications.
By the end of the academic year we hope to be running our first trial of the mentoring program in preparation for a full launch in October 2015.