Caty’s own experience as a student helped her to appreciate the value of having a mentor, and inspired her to undertake the role herself. “I thought it would be a good opportunity to help others in the same situation I was in not too long ago.”
Caty believes that with help through mentoring, students can weigh up their options more realistically. “You are getting another view point of what it is like to do that degree or study at Lancaster,” she says. “It also gives you another contact to ask questions to that maybe would not be relevant to ask a lecturer.”
A flexible and stimulating degree
Caty started studying Chemistry and Mathematics as a Natural Sciences programme, which gave her the freedom to discover her strengths. “I had always enjoyed maths, however I was starting to enjoy chemistry more in my A-levels,” she says. “After my first year I felt as though I was understanding chemistry more than maths, and found that I enjoyed the mix of lectures and practicals in Chemistry.”
Since making the decision to focus on chemistry, Caty was pleased to learn that she was still able to apply her knowledge from other subjects. “I like how some modules contain lots of maths or physics, and others are organic, as well as applying what you have been learning to experiments in labs.”
The excellent staff-to-student ratio at Lancaster’s Chemistry Department gave Caty an opportunity to become familiar with her lecturers. “The lecture sizes are small, which means that the lecturers are more likely to remember you from lectures and labs and so are much more approachable when it comes to asking any questions.”
Caty says that she was keen to make use of open days to get the feel for a range of universities before deciding on Lancaster. “Out of all the open days I attended I thought that Lancaster University had the friendliest atmosphere, so I felt I could imagine myself studying here,” Caty explains. “I also was attracted by the Study Abroad programme that Lancaster offers.”
It didn’t take long for Caty to find a social group and make new friends. “I have found that meeting lots of new people at university is very easy to do,” she acknowledges. “In my first year, I joined the Natural Sciences Society which allowed me to get to know many people on my course.
“I also liked the college system at Lancaster as it creates smaller communities within the larger University community,” Caty adds. “This allowed me to make many friends in my college who weren’t on my course.”
Skills for life
As well as developing academically, Caty has gained a range of life skills from being a student at Lancaster. “I’ve learnt resilience, since chemistry involves a lot of problem solving and so has taught me to keep looking for the answer even when I may be unsure at first,” she says.
Caty’s advice to prospective students is to “go for what feels right for you. Others can share their experiences but your time at university will never be the same as theirs,” she adds. “Be sure to choose a subject you enjoy as when you are spending all your time on this subject, enjoying it will make it a lot easier.”