30 June 2010

Back to the Future helps everyone try out student life

A unique project aimed at showing parents, carers and young teenagers what university life is really like is celebrating its fifth birthday this summer.

The University of Essex organises the ‘Back to the Future’ project so that Year 10 students can stay on campus for a weekend to get a proper taste of living and studying at university, with their parents or carers able to come along too.

Places are still available for the upcoming special summer school on Saturday 17 July to Sunday 18 July.

The weekend is completely free of charge with transport, food and overnight accommodation all covered and is especially aimed at raising the educational aspirations of young people and their families.

Widening Participation Officer Nicola Wood said the idea came from parents bringing their children to the conventional summer schools run by the University to encourage wider participation in higher education.

“Parents and carers were seeing how Summer Schools had helped their child’s confidence and they were saying they would like the chance to see what university life was like for themselves,” she said.

“This is the only Summer School in the East of England region that also invites parents and carers to join in the experience and we’re not aware of any other opportunities like it in the whole country.

“This is about breaking down the barriers and helping people to find out what to expect if they come to university.

“We are particularly targeting students and parents who are not over familiar with Higher Education, perhaps because no one in their family has been to university before.”

Over the past five years the University has welcomed in young people from throughout Essex, Suffolk and the Eastern region and there are still places left for the Back to the Future weekend in July.

The relaxed sessions include taster lectures, tours, team building exercises, practical exercises, social events including a disco in a Students’ Union venue and discussions about finance, budgeting and applying for university.

Nicola said: “The feedback we have had from people has been so positive. The parents and carers who come say what a relaxing and interesting weekend it is. We want people to know that this great opportunity is there for them.

“These Summer Schools help make sure that if a young person decides that university is right for them they know where to get information and their parents or carers know how to give them help and support.”

For more information about Back to the Future call Nicola on 01206 873424 or email: nicolaw@essex.ac.uk

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