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Hear from our students

Bishoy and Calvin working on an engineering project

Calvin: MEng Aeronautics & Astronautics with Spacecraft Engineering

When I heard about the A2S scheme I saw a perfect opportunity to learn more about university life. The most beneficial part of the summer school for me was the course specific classes. They gave me an idea of the type of work I could expect to do in my first year of university and allowed me to meet fellow A2S students that would be doing my course.

The academic assignment set allowed me to apply my previous knowledge from school into a real-life situation. It pushed me to develop my way of approaching a question and thus ‘thinking outside of the box’. This was really important at university when attempting to solve problems set by our academics. The online mentoring was a chance for us A2S applicants to talk to a current student at the university and ask any questions about their experience, settling any concerns or worries.

The A2S programme undoubtedly helped me with my transition to university. And the best part of being involved is the opportunities it has given me whilst at university; I’ve met a lot of great people, been awarded an additional bursary, attended a fully-funded summer school in the United States, and have now also worked as a mentor on programmes like A2S.


Bishoy: MEng Aeronautics & Astronautics with Air Vehicle Systems Design

I applied to the A2S scheme because it offered me the chance to get a valuable insight into university life and my chosen course. Speaking to current students about how their university experience was and what they enjoyed doing was really useful. It got me thinking about clubs and societies and how I could get involved at University from day one.

The A2S programme massively helped my transition to University by assigning me to a mentor who was very helpful answering any questions I had, whilst still being at college. My mentor also emailed me regularly with information about student life, budgeting and transitioning into University.

The best part about participating in A2S was meeting like-minded people from different backgrounds during the summer school. Four years later, I am still in touch with people I met during the A2S summer school. You get the chance to meet people who potentially can be friends for life.

Katie, English PhD candidate

Katie: BSc English 2016, MSc 2017, PhD candidate

Access to Southampton, is, for me, a programme that has underpinned my entire student experience, and has also been the source of many “firsts”. One of the reasons I was eligible for A2S, was because I am in the first generation of my family to attend university; the A2S Summer School was the first time I had stayed away from home alone, so it was a big step for me; and, the A2S assignment was my first opportunity to have a go at producing a university-level piece of work.

Even when I arrived at Southampton, having officially completed the scheme, A2S continued to offer many brilliant opportunities. It was through A2S that I got my first part-time job as a student ambassador, which includes mentoring new A2S students; it was through A2S that I went on a plane and left the UK for the first time on a study tour to Washington DC. Finally, it was at the A2S Summer School this year that I taught my first seminar to incoming A2S students, just before starting my PhD.

Natalie, Psychology PhD candidate

Natalie: BSc Psychology 2016, MSc 2017, PhD candidate

I applied to the University of Southampton through A2S to start my undergraduate degree in 2014. For me, having the opportunity to visit the University was an invaluable experience. Meeting new, like-minded students and staying in halls of residence gave me a new, exciting sense of independence and confidence. It was this experience, as well as taking part in Psychology workshops and being able to conduct my own research for the A2S academic assignment that inspired and encouraged me to go to University.

Thanks to the bursary I was able to take part in valuable, non-paid work experiences, as the money really helped with my living costs and meant that I did not have to spend all of my spare time working. In my second year I took part in the University’s Business Innovation Programme, where I worked with a local company on a marketing communication proposal, alongside my studies. This was an incredible experience that I would not have had without going to university.

As I was once a student who was unsure if university was for me, I am proud to have achieved a first class honours, receiving a Deans’ Award for my dissertation, and to now be studying for a PhD. Being a mentor now has allowed me to reflect on how A2S has helped me in getting here, and allows me to help others going through the process.

Charlotte at the National Oceanography Centre

Charlotte: BSc Oceanography with Physical Geography

The best part of A2S was being able to come to the University for the summer school and get a proper experience of university life by staying in halls and doing an undergraduate style assignment. Having a day of lectures and using the equipment and software that students have access to gave me a real insight into my course.

Undertaking the assignment was useful because it teaches you about academic integrity and how to reference properly, which was valuable for my EPQ, as well as for the essays I now have to write.

The programme helped with the transition to university because I already had a feel for the campuses and knew some of the academic staff from the summer school, as well as other A2S students, which really helped put me at ease in those first few weeks at university.

The additional bursary I was awarded through the programme has also allowed me to go on a once in a lifetime trip to Greece to carry out sea turtle conservation, which was an amazing experience.

Michael recently passed his PhD Viva Voce

Dr Michael Warner, BA History 2014, PGCE in FE 2015, PhD 2018

Unexpectedly, I have spent a total of seven years studying at the University of Southampton and living in the city! Initially I undertook an undergraduate degree in History, before continuing to complete a PGCE in Further Education. Following this, an opportunity arose to undertake doctoral research and work towards a PhD. Now, having recently submitted my thesis, I am able to reflect on the time I’ve spent at the University. 

Throughout my time at Southampton I have been kindly supported by many people, but I owe a particular debt of gratitude to the Access to Southampton scheme, not least for my initial acceptance into the University to study for my undergraduate degree. Having been a member of one of the early cohorts of the scheme, it has brought me great pleasure to see the programme grow and continue to help and support people to enter the University.

I recall vividly the enjoyable time spent as a member of the preparatory summer school taking part in lectures and seminars and learning a host of skills related to academic writing, giving presentations and completing assessments. A particular highlight for me was meeting so many new people from so many different backgrounds, making friends, experiencing life away from home, as well as being introduced to university life. A2S was a great preparation for academic study and university life. Like others, I continued to receive support from A2S during my undergraduate degree. The scheme helped me get a part-time job as a student ambassador and involved in various outreach activities, such as giving talks in local schools and providing campus tours.

Overall, the A2S programme provided a wonderful and exciting opportunity to enter the University of Southampton through an alternative route, and one which laid many of the foundational skills on which I have built during the course of my University career, and on which I will continue to build.



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