“Being able to do nothing but design and make things in an engineering-based course was a perfect choice.”
"My name is Ellen Fearnside and I came to The Henley College in 2019 from Maiden Erlegh Chiltern Edge. I am taking Engineering (Extended Diploma) Level 3 (which is worth 3 A-levels) and an additional A-level in Maths.
At first I found the whole experience of moving from secondary school to college quite overwhelming, but as soon as I went to the first scheduled tutorial, I immediately made multiple new friends, one of whom is still one of my best friends now.
My first tour of the college was during Chiltern Edge and The Henley College’s ‘Partner Schools Day’. We were taken on a brief tour then allowed to choose three subjects that we were interested in to participate in a ‘taster session’. Although I didn’t have the chance to have an engineering session, the experience allowed me to narrow down my subject choices.
My best memory of my course was definitely the discovery and class unit of CAD (Computer Aided Design). This involved creating a machine vice on the College’s CAD software and being able to see what it would look like if it had been printed on the 3D printer.
I’ve always built and created things, whether from cardboard at home in year 2 or from plywood in our garage. Up until year 8 I had never realised that all of my hobbies had creating and building in common.
When allowed to narrow down the subjects I was able to study, being able to do nothing but design and make things in an engineering-based course was a perfect choice. Alongside the Engineering course I decided to take A-level Maths because I’ve always enjoyed it. I got a grade 9 at GCSE and universities are fond of this course combination.
I have applied for a Design Engineering course at Loughborough, Liverpool John Moores, Brighton and Aston Universities. With an offer from all four, I’d love to study at the University of Loughborough as they’re known for the quality of their engineering courses. Following that, I would like a job with multiple different types of engineering included – mechanical, electrical, design, etc. At the moment I’m not sure which area I’d like to specialise in.
My class is essentially one large friend group and there is no-one who I don’t get on with. There are some people on my course who I think that I will be friends with beyond college and I hope to keep in contact with them after we leave.
Another thing that I am now better at is time management. Sometimes multiple assignments could be set at once and sometimes I could have no set work to do. This has allowed me to improve my ability to balance my time and establish my free period priorities.
I would recommend taking the engineering + maths combination as the separate courses can really help each other. For example, the calculus units in each have coincidentally happened at the same time meaning that I’ve had double the practice and double the teaching on some areas. The workload is manageable, as long as you keep on top of the homework you’re given and help is available from any of the teachers when needed.
My advice to 15-16 year olds thinking about their future would be don’t pick a course for the sole reason that your friends are taking it. Pick a course because you think you will enjoy it. None of my friends from secondary school chose engineering like I did and I have made so many friends that I probably wouldn’t have even spoken to if I already knew someone on the course."