The charity helping northern state students reach our best universities

Jason Marshall

Finishing first year at Clare College, Cambridge, reading English.

May 2018

“As I’m approaching the end of my first year at Cambridge I can honestly say that it has gone by so quickly. It’s scary to think that a third of my time here will be completed in a matter of weeks, which is a sobering fact, and an ugly one too! My pathway to getting here was chaotic. I missed my offer, I waited nervously for an outcome, I was pooled to a college I had never heard of, and I arrived at the gates of Clare College a complete stranger. I can wholeheartedly say that I couldn’t have wished for a better home.

There is so much available to engage with here, and I try to involve myself in as much as possible: art walks, film nights, literary publications, poker games, bake-off screenings, squash leagues, Disney nights – the list goes on! This year has met every expectation I could’ve dreamt up and I am so grateful for and humbled by the magnitude of the opportunity I have been given.

Ultimately, my Cambridge journey started with The Linacre Institute. I had always had Oxbridge floating around my mind, but I would have seriously struggled to make this a reality had it not been for the Institute and their amazing work. They began by easing me in to thinking about Literature in new and theoretical ways, before narrowing my attention down to textual-based detailing within refined arguments. This nurtured my close-reading skills which were crucial for interview, all while giving me the background I would need to talk about the textual nuances in relation to macro ideas.

The first residential was eye-opening and an amazing chance to engage with new worlds: from the theatre to the gallery, from the printing press to the Home Office. More than this, however, the first residential was an exercise in university life, as I lived and worked with people who shared my interests. The second residential focussed in on the academic side of things and showed me what it was really like to work in an environment like Cambridge. This isn’t for everyone, so I was very grateful that I had already had a taster of the ethos before applying. My essay writing was one of my weaker areas, and so Linacre spent the time needed to ensure I achieved an A* in English, which was necessary for my offer. Most importantly for me, however, as I was approaching the final stage of the application process I felt thoroughly prepared for interviews after the absolutely amazing work my tutor Victoria had done with me.

There is still a while left until the end of term and my parents and family will be missing me I am sure, but their pride over my achievements continuously fights off the homesickness I feel and keeps me moving forward.”

Jason Marshall: Finishing first year at Clare College, Cambridge, reading English.