By Aliya Nabil with Constantino Christou
Here, we catch-up with some of our former coachees to see how they are doing at university. Our first interviewee is Costa, a former coachee and graduate from the Advocacy Academy. Read the interview session below to find out more!
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
My name is Constantino ('Costa') and I am from Croydon in South London. I used to study at Bishop Thomas Grant school in Lambeth (where I spent 7 years) and am now studying for a BSc in Politics and International Relations at the University of Exeter in Devon.
How has university life been for you so far?
So far university life has been everything I wanted it to be; I enjoy my course, the facilities are great, I love the town and I've met some great people. The sense of freedom and independence, though daunting, has been invaluable to my personal development.
If you could give a heads-up to prospective university students out there, what would your advice be?
Any prospective student should place the course above all other aspects of the university. Although things like location, accommodation and reputation are important, it is vital that you enjoy/are interested in the course you are studying, because if you don't like the course, you won't enjoy it once the freshers fun is over in second and third year. Also, now is the time to explore and do things you wouldn't otherwise do, so make the most of the opportunities that present themselves. That being said, don't feel pressured into making bad decisions!
How did you find the transition from school to university?
The transition from school to university was fairly smooth, the only real draw is not having my friendship group there to support me at the toughest part - the first month or so. In sixth form we had a lot of hands-on support right in front of us, both academically and otherwise. At university, it is up to you to seek out the support that you need. So far I have found my lecturers and tutors very helpful and hands-on in addressing my concerns, and they make time for me like my A Level teachers did - the main difference being that I had to email beforehand to agree on a time.
My first term modules were introductory and so weren't too much of a departure from my A Level course content. In second term I am expected to do more independent research which is both taxing and highly enjoyable. Again, if you enjoy the subject you are studying and are passionate about it, the transition to university will be positive.
Obviously, you were on the Advocacy Academy and had coaching, how did you find it?
The Advocacy Academy was the best experience of my life so far - it taught me what it is to be a leader and it gave me an appreciation for my community that I didn't have before. Coaching came at a really important time in my life and it gave me the guidance and support I needed, when I really needed it.
Is there any advice that still resonates within you?
What both TAA and coaching taught me was the importance of seeing the bigger picture, which resonated with me greatly. I can now approach everyday scenarios, in addition to broader political and social issues, with a more informed perspective that many others do not have.
You were part of the CoachBright Advocacy programme before as a coachee, would you ever consider being a coach ? If yes, why?
CoachBright gave me an appreciation for making one-to-one time with the people I care about, be it friends or family. I apply this whenever I am in need of support from my loved ones and in turn I can provide that for them as well. A few years down the line perhaps, I would love to become a coach. As a self-proclaimed 'child of outreach programmes', I feel like I have a lot to offer to young people who are in the position I was a few years back. Not everyone is lucky enough to have role models and I think having a coach or mentor in some form is vital to one's personal development.
Lastly, do you have any plans for the future?
I have applied to a couple of internship programmes (with Unilever and the Civil Service) and am hoping to start a new blog in the spring, so I'm definitely keeping busy. Ideally, I would like to become a civil servant working in housing policy, but marketing is also an interest of mine so I am keeping a fairly open mind about it.