September 16, 2017, by Philip Moriarty

Striking a Balance: Guest post from Nicole Landon

This is a guest post from Nicole Landon (pictured), who graduated with a 1st class honours MSci degree earlier this year. During her four years at Nottingham, Nicole was a key member of our team of student ambassadors/advisors for open days and outreach events. Having now graduated and moved on to bigger and better things, Nicole won’t be with us for the open day today but she very kindly wrote the blog post below for us. This covers Nicole’s thoughts and recollections on the open day experience from a number of perspectives. We miss you Nicole — thanks for all of your help over the years!

After putting up the signs that we hope will direct people to the number of different areas that are set up in the department, we eagerly await our visitors. It’s always surprising how far and wide they have travelled to check out the facilities Nottingham has to offer.

Some come on their own, some with friends or family, and there’s always a mixture of those with their heart set on a particular course and those who aren’t yet certain of the subject they will be applying for.

It might be surprising to hear, but when taking visitors on a tour of the department, I really do want to be interrupted. This is because I want people to make the most of their visit by finding out the things they really want to know and the best way to do that is by asking us questions.

I’m more than happy to chat about how I’ve found my time at Nottingham, what type of accommodation I chose, getting lost on the first journey to physics, what labs and projects I have enjoyed and what it’s like to do presentations at university.

It is not only myself who thinks this but all the other student ambassadors that I’ve chatted with say the best tours they lead are when they’ve been quizzed by the group they are showing around.

My main rule when I chat to prospective students is that I am honest.

Overall I have really enjoyed my degree but that does not mean it’s been easy. There certainly have been weeks where the work has piled up and deadlines are looming. I feel that it is important to give a realistic view of what it’s like to be a University of Nottingham student so that each person can decide for themselves whether the course and surroundings will suit them.

I can’t imagine there is a single student out there that has struck the perfect balance between all the aspects of university life, and if anyone tells you they have – don’t trust them!

One important thing for me, in particular, was location and transport links to other universities so I could go and visit friends…

I drew two radii around my family home. I wanted to go to a great uni in between the two circles – not too far from home that I can’t visit and return over the holidays, but not too near that I would be tempted to pop home each weekend or evening. (No, I didn’t check out any universities in Calais!)

When I was looking around universities, it seemed to me that physics courses have a similar course content and flexibility due to the nature of the subject, but the differences between unis lie in the teaching methods, department facilities, layout of the Master’s year, the lecturers and even the physics society.

But each person thinking of applying to uni has a different set of priorities — there is no single, objective right answer. I found it very tricky to choose a university but it helps to write a list of priorities to focus on during each open day. In fact, I wrote a list of categories and rated each uni on these when I looked around.

I really enjoyed chatting with, and giving advice to, potential applicants for Nottingham Physics & Astronomy. My open day experience certainly helped me pick the right place and course to study and I hope that, as a student ambassador, I might have helped others make their decision.

Nicole Landon, MSci Physics University of Nottingham (2013-2017)


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