When it comes to Economics, the LSE is one of the most prestigious places to study, and this interview with Rupom will shed some light on what that experience is like.
SnapRevise: What did you study at A-level?
Rupom: I studied Economics, Biology, Geography and Maths.
SR: What drew you to study at the LSE?
R: If you're interested in studying Economics or any other social sciences, the LSE is known for it's standout in the field. So when I was doing applications it was definitely my ambition university. So that's particularly why I wanted to go there - it's in the name, I wanted to study Economics and Politics and the LSE is the London School of Economics and Political Sciences, so it's a gimme at that point. What drew me specifically was its academic excellence, the exposure that I expected to get, and then I liked the idea of studying in London.
SR: What was studying in London like?
R: You can view it in two different ways. You could either say, don't expect to have a traditional campus experience. If you go to Nottingham or Leeds you can expect it to be quite self-contained, and you get that culture that comes from being at a campus. Or you could view London as the biggest campus in the UK, where you are never constricted by the boundaries of your university, you have access to all sorts of different communities. And you can create your own campus, of sorts. As part of the University of London, you have access to all their facilities and student unions, be they at UCL, Kings or Birkbeck.
In terms of studying itself, you can expect construction sites. Mine was one for the entire time that I was there, and it was only as I left that they finished the building that we studied in! You'll always be grabbing for study spaces because there are a lot of people here, but there are tonnes of places to go. Again, as part of University of London, you have access to every library, including places like Senate House. So studying in London is what you make of it, and from a careers perspective it is useful, because a lot of companies are based here, so naturally their main offices and events are here too, which you also have access to.
SR: What was different about studying at University compared to A-level?
R: There definitely is a step up in the standard that you're expected to produce at university, however, I would actually say I felt less pressure at university compared to A-level. With A-levels you've got competing people around you, pressure from parents and teachers, all of which goes towards a record of your achievements, which is admittedly not a pleasant feeling. When you get to university, and though I'm not underestimating the importance of also working hard and doing well here, at this point though you have taken the personal decision to attend university, at which point your role and your purpose and all the things you achieve here are your own. So you set the agenda for yourself, which is nice. You're not expecting anything from anyone but yourself. At the end of the day, it's up to you.
SR: How are you assessed and are you coming up with your own topics for essays?
R: At the LSE, all your grades across every year count. Your course is split up into nine chunks over the space of three years, and your top five average marks on those chunks will determine your final grades. In terms of the actual marking, it depends on what degree you study. For me, there was rarely coursework, and if there is it only occurs in your final year as a research piece. You'll do well and get good marks if you demonstrate concrete understanding as well as contributing something creative and new to space. That's what academia is about in the social sciences. In Economics, Maths and Stats you'll do exams in January and the summer, so that's something to keep in mind. You'll find if you go to a top university, if you get 65% then that's a great mark, just because you're getting marked by the thought leaders of your academic discipline, so it takes a lot to impress them by doing more than just regurgitating what they've said in a lecture.
SR: What was a typical day in the life for you as a student?
R: Every module will have a lecture. For Econ and Maths, they would be about two hours, for others it might be an hour, and then an hours worth of class time. At the LSE you average about 10-12 contact hours in a week, Wednesday afternoon is free for sports societies. No day is necessarily the same, depending on how much you take on to your plate things can juggle around, and your personal schedule can change quite quickly depending on what you do in your evenings. So there's not really a consistent or standard day, and I think that's pretty consistent across most universities. Classes were about 10-13 people, and they get smaller over the years.
SR: If you could go back and give your A-level self a piece of advice, what would it be?
R: The important thing to do is to recognise what your hook is, and really ask yourself why you're doing something. Doing something someone else has asked you to do, or you feel they want you to do, is never going to be long term, enjoyable or brings the best out of you. Finding your hook and your passion is pretty important, and that will take time and an open mind to do that. Find better ways to use technology productively. I think if you can do that, and if your phone is an important piece in helping you plan out your education, use the apps that will help. I had an app on my phone that prevented me from opening it, and it would build up points and I'd get rewards at the end. Those kinds of things can help be an incentive. Recognise when you're burnt out - no one runs on a constant loop. I recognise I am not someone who can do that, and when you recognise that you're burnout, take time out and enjoy bits of life because if you're constantly trying to break through that barrier, then the whole process becomes that much more difficult.
You can watch the full interview here: https://youtu.be/1RuIt4wre14