The best thing I learned at the University of Cambridge was…

It’s a given that the world’s leading universities will provide you with an exceptional academic education, but that’s not where the experience stops. From handling pressure to challenging your thinking, revered institutions like the University of Cambridge and University of Oxford have gained their exceptional reputations because of the less tangible ways in which they facilitate excellence. Here, our very own Business Development Manager, Ed Willey, explains some of the best things he learned at the University of Cambridge.

It set me up to take challenges in my stride

The University of Cambridge was very helpful in setting me up to deal with challenges without feeling too much stress. It’s the same with any degree to an extent, you put a lot of work in over a three or four year period, and after that nothing is especially phasing. It means you have to work hard at university, but it also means you’re well set up to handle challenges at work and in life moving forward.

It gave me the opportunity to learn from leading experts

Being able to meet people who are experts in their subjects – not just the one I was studying, but others as well – was incredible for enhancing my perspectives and expanding my horizons. If you have the chance to study somewhere like the University of Cambridge then you need to make the most of the opportunity to learn from different people. Oxbridge is especially known for its teaching methods based on small groups in supervisions/tutorials and seminars. You have a lot of opportunities to really discuss your thinking with top academics; not every university offers that, it’s a real building block of going to Oxford or Cambridge. 

The ability to listen

For many people going to the University of Cambridge, the chances are that you were top of your class at school, but when you get to Oxbridge, the odds are you will be nowhere near the top. Being amongst peers who are at the top of their game teaches you humility, and the ability to listen to what other people have to say. It is also a chance to learn from individuals who may well go on to be industry leaders themselves. More often than not, if you listen, the people around you will say something insightful that you hadn’t thought of. 

You don’t always have to be right

It’s not always about having the right answer but showing your thinking. Attending a leading research institution like Cambridge is a unique opportunity to try things out. If you want to get the best marks you have to show a way of thinking outside the box. In dissertations for example, a lot of people get set questions that have already been answered, but at Oxbridge the emphasis is on originality and research. They always want you to come up with interesting answers. They may not think it’s the best argument, but it’s good to see people doing something new or interesting with research and saying something that hasn’t been considered before. I had a couple of classes where the lecturer was clearly using us as a sounding board for some of his thinking and that’s a great thing to be a part of that process.