Thinking back to results day
In a few days time, many young people across the UK will be receiving their GCSEs and A-Level results.
I was in that position just under two years ago. The summer of 2015 was an intense one, to say the least. Thinking about whether I had achieved enough marks in my exams to get that university place that I wanted or whether I would be clinging to my second option should I not quite scrape it. Fortunately for me, I had achieved enough marks and started at Durham in the October of that year.
Now just about to enter my final year as an undergraduate student, I have recently been thinking more and more about my educational journey. In my life, I have been very lucky to have been taught by some of the greatest people that I can think of. Not only world-renowned scholars at Durham University but by individuals and indeed friends outside of the lecture theatre or seminar room too.
There’s a nice little phrase that education impedes on our learning. Whilst I may not fully subscribe to this view, it does personally hold some validity. For me, learning is a lifelong process, and not just something that you spend several years studying for and (all things being well) pass an exam at the end. Rather, learning about life is something that cannot be taught from a textbook but is instead something that emanates from those role models who are around us – our family, friends, colleagues, classmates and others – as well as the experiences that we have along the way.
My time at Durham so far has been immensely formative and has given me an insight into many areas that I would otherwise not have gained. From being a student representative on St Chad’s Governing Body to setting up my own student group Model Westminster Society, Durham has given me a wide range of experiences from which I have built a range of skills that (with any luck) will set me up for the rest of life.
One step further through the education system leads to one step closer to the future; to new places of study or to the world of work. As much as these can be deeply daunting times, they are also exciting as they are full of endless possibilities.
Alumni from Durham have gone on to achieve major successes in life. Whether in journalism or sports, politics or fashion, there’s probably a Durham alumnus or alumnae who are excelling in that field. This success is not just entrepreneurial or material but is also measured by the social impact that they have on others.
What inspires me most is how alumni have gone on to use their talents to enrich and enhance the lives of others. Whether leading charities, serving in our armed or public services, or committing their time to some other form of social action, Durham alumni are a group to certainly be proud of.
As I think about leaving Durham at the end of the next academic year, I feel immensely fortunate to have been able to study at such a world-renowned institution. Of course, not without its challenges as well as opportunities. Ensuring that the university continues to diversify its student-base through reaching out to the local and international communities in equal measure; providing a more enriching experience through becoming more inclusive and accessible, and taking measures to enable more students from disadvantaged backgrounds to negotiate economic strains, are all challenges that must be addressed. Yet, the broad range of opportunities, the variety of resources, and the range of skills that I have developed have certainly made the investment worthwhile
Advice to my younger self
If there is one piece of advice that I would give to myself if I were able to go back in time and start again it would undoubtedly be to seize every opportunity. Social action – whether volunteering, campaigning, or fundraising – can play a huge role in developing important interpersonal, leadership and teamwork skills, and in turn, is a key benefit in preparing for that transition between education and the wider world of life.
As an ambassador to Step up to Serve, a charity which coordinates the #iWill Campaign that asks businesses and organisations to commit towards youth social action, I have pledged to encourage others to the advice that I would have given to myself – to seize every opportunity. To find out more about Step up to Serve or the #iWill Campaign, please visit www.iwill.org.uk.
Hi, my name is Craig Bateman from St Chads College, President and Founder of the Model Westminster Society. I am an enthusiastic #iWill Ambassador for the Step up to Serve programme. Check out my WordPress site craighbateman.wordpress.com