Name: Yara Mazhar
University & Graduation Year: University of Cambridge, Class of 2021
High School: Lycee Francais International de l’AFLEC
Major/Program: BA Law

1. As a first-year student, what was the biggest surprise about university life? Were there any specific challenges you faced or adjustments you had to make?

The biggest surprise about university life was how much control we had over our time and our work. One of the challenges I faced was organising myself and being productive when I had a lot going on around me. I also had to adjust my way of studying because there is so much work and reading to do, it’s impossible to do it all: the key is to try to work through most of the material thoroughly and efficiently, rather than try to finish everything quickly.

2. What makes your university special? What is your favorite thing about it?

My university is special as professors are really passionate about teaching their students well and helping us develop strong critical and analytical thinking. Cambridge offers unparalleled teaching methods with Supervisions, small group study sessions (usually one to three students). This allows us to discuss material, and get feedback on our work from our professors, most of whom are experts in their given field. My favorite thing about university is the campus life. There is always so much going on whether it be work or an outing with friends, and I’m still learning to prioritize.

3. Are there any misconceptions out there about your university? What would you like to share with students who might be considering applying?

I am not certain whether this misconception is widely held but personally, I thought that most Cambridge students would be overly competitive and not really friendly. While there are some people like that (as in all places), they are the exception and not the rule. It was very reassuring for me to find people, who were sociable and approachable. I’d like to tell students who might be considering applying and who might be thinking they are not good enough to get in that every single student I’ve met in Cambridge this year has at some point expressed the sentiment that they feel they were accepted by chance and do not deserve to be here, which is not the case. You never know what you might be missing out on, just apply.

4. Are you involved in any clubs, teams, or other extracurricular activities? If so, tell us how this has shaped your university experience.

While I have not been involved in any teams or clubs, I have participated in the annual Trinity Hall Law Society mooting competition which helped shape my experience as a first year student studying law. We were judged by Sir David Michael Bean, Lord Justice of Appeal and it was an amazing experience as I was able to put into action what I had learned throughout the year: I read a variety of cases and picked out what best helped me build a structured, coherent argument.

5. If you could give your 11th grade self any advice about university admissions, what would you say? Having been through the university admissions process, what is the biggest lesson you learned?

If I could give my 11th grade self any advice about university admissions, I would say to spend more time working on the personal statement and really aiming to make sure it is an accurate representation of why I want to study the degree I’ve chosen. The biggest lesson I’ve learned in the university admissions process is that organisation and time efficiency are key.