Trinity Maths student, Lewis Croney, talks about the Channel 4 documentary and his first term at Trinity.
Why were you willing to take part in the Channel 4 series Working Class White Men? (it’s quite brave in many ways!)
Initially I was quite nervous about taking part. I had never done anything anywhere near this scale before, but I was persuaded by my Nan to get in contact. I thought it could inspire others like me to at least apply. A lot of people think ‘Cambridge? It’s not for me’. Getting the information out there about the opportunities available is necessary to ensure the top universities get the applicants with the most potential, from a wide range of backgrounds.
How did you find being interviewed by Professor Green – especially during your exams and when applying to Cambridge?
Meeting and being interviewed by Professor Green was an interesting experience. He’s inquisitive and has a way about him that makes people open up. Stephen really helped me develop my thoughts on things I’d not really considered before.
Surprisingly, being involved with the documentary wasn’t stressful and the crew did their best to fit filming around my schedule. Even when opening my results for the first time live on camera, I was anxious only about not getting in to Cambridge, which had been my dream so long. At the time, the embarrassment of untold numbers of people watching the moment I didn’t make the cut, didn’t faze me.
What made you consider Cambridge?
At Barton Peveril, I had a careers appointment and was advised to consider applying to Oxford or Cambridge due to my GCSE results. That’s when I first properly considered applying – although it had been a dream of mine for much longer.
One of the main differences between secondary school and sixth form was the opportunity to make a larger network of friends who all really enjoyed learning. Until then, disruption in the classroom had been frequent. A lot of this friendship group at Barton Peveril applied to Oxford and Cambridge, so I didn’t feel hugely different from my peers in that sense.
Why did you choose Trinity?
I knew that I wanted to apply for Mathematics at Cambridge. I’d known about the immense history of Maths at Trinity for a while, but was deterred initially. Previous applicants I spoke to described what they saw as the competitive nature of the College, which they wanted to avoid. Despite this, I knew it would be an honour and exciting to study at a College with so many people interested in the same subject. Having had my first term, any competitive culture has gone unnoticed. It’s much more important to get your head down and study than worry about that.
How has your first term gone?
Overall, it has been extremely enjoyable. University life comes with a level of freedom that you can’t really imagine until you experience it. At first the workload seemed difficult, especially after such a long period since exams. However, for a Maths student, it is a regular cycle of lectures, problem sheets and Supervisions, and that made it easier to handle as time went on. It has been a real pleasure to be intellectually stimulated much more than ever before and this is something I am very much looking forward to returning to in the coming term.
Apart from studying, how else do you spend your time?
I play badminton for the Trinity III team, which is a welcome break from work each week. I also take notes for a Maths student at another College, who is unable to do so himself due to a disability. This requires me to be organised – I can’t let my friend down – and I’ve found it has also improved my note-taking capabilities, so will hopefully enable better revision in future.
What has surprised you about Trinity and Cambridge?
Mainly it has been the breadth of tradition that I’m able to be a part of and enjoy. Formal halls are a wonderful occasion and have a great atmosphere. It has been a lot easier making friends than I initially thought. I expected it to be difficult to fit in if I couldn’t relate very well to what I thought would be the ‘typical Cambridge student’. Instead, it’s been a refreshing experience to discuss common interests with students from a wide variety of backgrounds, which Cambridge does so well to bring together.