Meet: Ruth Cullen

Meet Ruth, an Intensive Fast-Track A Level student studying History and Religious Studies at Oaklands College.

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Name: Ruth Cullen
Courses Studied: Intensive (Fast-Track) History and AS Religious Studies

Meet Ruth, an Intensive Fast-Track A Level student studying History and AS Religious Studies at Oaklands College. 

How have you found the experience at Oaklands College?
I have had an overwhelmingly positive experience, both in regards to the A Level course itself and the teaching I have received.

The courses have been really interesting and have been helped by engaging teaching, even during lockdown when lessons had to be moved online. All my teachers have gone to significant efforts to make studying enjoyable and relevant, and I have benefitted academically from their support within lessons.

Also, I knew I would only be at Oaklands for one year so when I started, I had some concern that I would have to be relatively self-sufficient in comparison to those who were doing A levels over two years, but this was absolutely not the case. My teachers understood the pressures of an intensive course and made sure to support me in any way they could. This included marking any extra work I did, answering my questions and supporting my university application, as a result, I was able to get in very early.

What have you enjoyed about your course(s)
I have enjoyed trying something completely new just to try it out, as I knew the subjects I had already done were not ones I wanted to study at university. The intensive course allowed me to do it during my gap year.

Also, I have enjoyed the lessons, as they have been very interesting and allowed me to develop a wide range of study skills. There is always scope for further research into what I have found most interesting in lessons and I have greatly benefitted from my teachers’ attentiveness whenever I felt I needed to discuss a topic further. Lessons involve active student participation through debates, presentations and research projects, and have drawn on a variety of educational sources beyond the textbook, such as primary sources, documentaries, and news reports.

What are your plans once you finish?
I will be studying Italian and History at the University of Edinburgh. I did the intensive A Level and AS in a gap year after year 13.

Would you recommend the intensive study programme? If so, why?
I would definitely recommend the Intensive course because even though it seems a bit daunting at first to do the whole A Level in one year, the tutors at Oaklands were very understanding and patient in the early stages of the year when the subject may be quite unfamiliar, and in my experience, have been really supportive of my learning.

Doing intensive History has meant that I could explore an entirely new subject area, so I can go to university confident that I will be studying something I enjoy with the skills I need to start a degree in it.

How important has the intensive one-year course been to enabling you to pursue your University ambitions?

Prior to coming to Oaklands College, I had already achieved A*A*A in my previous A levels (Maths, Physics, Art) but these were in subjects I didn’t want to pursue at University. Had I not tried out History as an intensive, I wouldn’t have realised my passion for the subject and it wouldn’t have been an option for me to study it at a higher level. The intensive course has prepared me for being able to write essays again (as none of my 3 A levels were essay subjects) and has allowed me to diversify my skill set, setting me up well for University study. Without the intensive course, I would not feel secure in my decision, nor would I be academically ready to do a degree in such a different subject to those I had previously studied.

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