It was great to have Nina back in school to chat to us before she heads off to Newnham College, University of Cambridge, UK, to study Land Economy. She is here to tell us about her journey through Park Lane and into Cambridge University of Cambridge

So, what did it take to be accepted to study at Cambridge? 

Well first I put the UCAS application together with many drafts of my personal statement and the University of Cambridge was my first choice. I had to do some research and comparisons to add my college preference, but looking at all the options available for Land Economy, I chose Newnham. Having good grades is a priority, if you don’t have the right grades to meet the entry requirements, the university will not even consider giving you an offer. There wasn’t an entrance exam for Land Economy, but I did have to submit supplementary essays and then wait to be interviewed. The admissions officers were looking for intellectual curiosity, academic potential as well as a genuine interest in the subject. What is also important for Land Economy is that students must be able to handle the quantitative aspect of the course as well as the essay writing. They are therefore looking for people that have a strong mathematical background but are also capable of analytical writing.

The interviews were intense as I had multiple with a range of questions. I am glad I did a lot of preparation for these in advance and my former debate coach, my friend who studied Land Economy as well as the teachers from school helped a lot. I am sure, after all the work I put into the application, it was the interview that was the deciding factor.

What is Land Economy?

Land Economy as a Bachelor degree is unique to the University of Cambridge. Law, economics, and their relationship to the built and natural environments are central to Land Economy, along with other areas such as business regulation, the financial aspects of real estate and international development. The multidisciplinary nature of the course is particularly relevant in the 21st Century where the environment, law and economics and the control of scarce resources affect the daily lives of people around the world.

Why Newnham?

Newnham is an old college, well-established with a lot of history, it is central in the city and easily accessible. They tend to accept more international applicants than other colleges, I wanted to be able to meet other students from around the world. What also made Newnham stand out were their Plum Pudding Seminars where people discuss their research together with people from completely different fields which is something I liked.

How did Park Lane and the International Baccalaureate prepare you for success?

When I came to Park Lane my English wasn’t very good, I had to work on speaking and writing in English both for my academics and to be able to communicate. This immersion prepared me well to be able to apply to any of the universities in the UK. I had great support from my teachers who both encouraged me to study but also challenged me to work hard and improve.

I got involved in different activities in school which developed skills and abilities like team work and leadership. I was president of the student council where we looked at issues raised in school by students and their potential solutions.

I appreciate Park Lane for its diverse, friendly community, which enables us to debate world issues and analyse different perspectives and cultures.

The IB offers you a range of courses to take with a broad scope of subjects and the academic skills needed to succeed in a top university that is educationally challenging. I think that all of these things have prepared me well to study Land Economy, even though I didn’t study economics or law, the IB has given me academic opportunities to read, research, debate many different topics.

What activities outside of school also helped you?

I completed an internship at CERGE-EI’s think tank IDEA, where I had the opportunity to assist with research on varying topics such as tax incentives for families, financing of Czech universities and the impact of the war in Ukraine on the Czech labour market.

I also participated in Microsoft’s Council for Digital Good for 3 years which included lots of research into the way that Czech legislation protects children on the internet. Because of this I also participated in regulation proposal sessions on digital safety with IGOs, such as the OECD and had to opportunity to speak two years in a row at the UN organized conference Internet Governance Forum to present my research findings. Throughout the 3 years, I participated in lots of panel discussions with experts and had a unique experience with the research that I did for example for the French governmental agency Arcom.

I also got involved with academic debating which mainly improved my critical thinking and public speaking, but it also enabled me to learn about many diverse topics in detail.

I also competed in rowing for some time, mainly to keep fit! I may go rowing again in Cambridge!

Nina, other than studying and pudding seminars, what else do you want to get involved in at Cambridge?

I am excited to start my course, I have already visited and met some people there and made friends. There are many societies to get involved in like the Land Economy Society, Investment Society and the Law Society. On a lighter note, I love board games so I want get involved in the board games club based at college. I may row again and of course, join the Cambridge Debate. Union

For our future Park Lane graduates and parents, what advice can you give?

If you are applying to a world class university, to them it is not about the ranking or the prestige, it is about the subject and the passion for learning, so you must show that you are excited to study and are prepared to contribute. Be proud of your background, accept that you are an international applicant, from Czechia, use this as a driving force because that will make you unique. Be confident and proud of your own achievements.

For parents, I would say it is important to let your child figure it out on their own, they need to be able to show their own independence.

For students, start early with your application, be excited to apply, spend time on your personal statement and interview preparations, research, this extra work and time will boost your confidence. Because the application process is certainly time demanding it is key to complete your school assignments like EE and IAs early. Beat the deadlines.

Finally, Nina, were you successful in gaining a scholarship?

No, not yet. Cambridge also asks you to sign a contract to say that you are not to work through term time outside of your studies so I can only work in the holidays, hopefully I can get a job in between semesters.

Overall, I want to focus on getting an amazing degree so I can continue to research and maybe, further into my career, manage my own company focussed on real estate, business finance or anything else that my studies will lead me onto.

Thank you, Nina and good luck to you and all the graduating students in the class of 2023 on the next stage of their lives. 

Mrs. Emma Emerich
University and Careers Advisor