Former City College Biological Sciences student Natascia Ingino, currently studying for her top-up (3rd year) in BSc Biomedical Sciences at Brighton University, recently returned to City College to talk to current students about progression opportunities and also to discuss the best modules to choose for their 3rd year of study.
Talking of her time at the college, Natasha says: “The small class sizes really helped because you were able to get to know the teacher really well – it felt almost like having a private tutor. From my experience, at the bigger universities there’s often over a hundred students in a lecture, so the tutors struggle to devote individual time to the students. Also, I think smaller class sizes mean that you genuinely bond with other students rather than just making ‘party friends’. And it’s much more obvious if you’re not attending or slacking!”
While studying for 3rd year of her BSc at Brighton, Natasha has felt at a distinct advantage to her peers because of the knowledge she’s gained at City College: “I got a much better understanding of biochemistry and cell biology because my tutors went into so much detail and actually tested our knowledge rather than just making it about memorising facts and regurgitating them in an exam. Because of that, I could always remember what I’d done in class. Before I came to City College, I hadn’t grasped all the concepts in Biomedical Science but Lorraine’s learning techniques meant there were no problems with my understanding.” As for her future plans, Natascia says: “I’m hoping to get work at a college near where I live as a secondary Biology teacher. My tutor at City College Lorraine was such an amazing teacher that it’s made me want to do it too.”
“While I was at City College, I was awarded a Brighton University scholarship and was part of the City Achievers 2010 awards ceremony. Winning the award was a complete surprise and I felt overwhelmed to find that my hard work throughout the year had been noticed and had paid off.
What I liked most about being at the college was taking part in the practical lab sessions which was particularly enjoyable. Also there was a lot of support and mentoring available which solved any queries that we had. I think the biggest personal challenge was keeping on track with coursework as most of the time I’d have only a few days between multiple pieces of coursework that needed to be handed in but I think developing some sort of organisation plan really helps.
I achieved quite a lot at 17 but that’s because I’ve always set myself goals when I begin a new experience and did the same when I started studying Biological Sciences which helped to keep me on track. I’ve had a really successful first year at Brighton University, gaining a distinction, so I’m looking forward to continuing my studies and am grateful to City College for everything I learnt while I was there”.
Alex came to City College as a 28-year old mature student who had tried college in the past but never found a course that suited him. All that changed when he came to City College. “My music production skills have improved in every way”, he enthuses. “They’ve gone from pretty much non-existent to a stage where I’m now preparing to enter the world of being a professional composer with all the production and sound design skills that requires. I’ve had the opportunity to compose music to film and produce an entire album. Not bad for someone who didn't know where the ‘record’ button was when he first started!”
Alex has been particularly impressed with how his tutors have always been available and ready with pertinent advice and describes the college’s recording studio facilities as “excellent”. “The atmosphere has been very good”, he says.”The staff are always friendly and the Learning Resource Centre is a good place to go with plenty of resources and a bit of peace and quiet.”
Alex is now progressing to do a MA in Music and Sonic Media at Sussex University and has been self-producing his first solo album under the name Dead Captain for his final project. “I’m having to use all the skills I’ve gained in recording and mixing techniques, and am constantly being pushed by my tutors to make it the best it can be. The album would simply never have happened without this course. As well as releasing the album, I’m planning to enter the world of being a professional composer for adverts, TV and video games when my degree finishes. Coming to City College has basically given me a whole new career trajectory.”
Tina’s experience of education prior to her Foundation Degree hadn’t been positive. She moved around a lot as a child and left school at 16 without any qualifications. Being a mature student at City College, however, was an entirely different proposition. “It was a fantastic experience and I thoroughly enjoyed the academic challenges”, says Tina. “I’d never really written an essay before and ‘learning to learn’ was excellent. Being in the North Laine which is such a great part of town was a big bonus too and the college itself is mainly filled with young people so the atmosphere is very lively. Overall, City College is a happy and friendly environment.”
The Foundation Degree honed Tina’s existing skills and gave her focus and direction while also helping her to develop a strong business sense to the extent that she felt confident to start her own business, CanTina, just a month after the course ended.
“Since graduating, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the process of running my own business”, she says. “The best bit without doubt has been all the positive customer feedback and building a group of loyal followers. I started with a stall at a farmers’ market and the business has developed and moved forward. I’ve catered for three weddings this year and a number of smaller functions and I’ve also recently set up CanTina@Home where I shall be hosting regular supper clubs. I hope that the business will continue to develop and become a respected catering company within Brighton and Hove.”
For more details on Tina’s business, see www.cantinabrighton.co.uk
Since completing his Foundation Degree at City College, Gareth has been able to move into employment in the music industry with the internationally-renowned Brighton-based company Loopmasters, a sound design label which also functions as an online store for music composers, producers and DJs. Gareth originally came into contact with the company thanks to the work experience module on his course. “Organisation is huge in this business and that’s something I’ve taken from City College”, says Gareth. “Aside from time management and file management, the most useful things I learnt on the course were the use of sequencers and synthesisers. I’m now head of Loopmasters’ sub label Patchworx which deals in selling patches and presets for soft synths so having the relevant background knowledge from my course has been really useful. I have to speak to some pretty famous people now and you need to know how to communicate with them on the sort of professional level that the course helped me reach.”
At Loopmasters, there have been many highlights for Gareth, including working and doing business with big-name huge producers whom he idolised when he was younger. ”I spent the day in the studio with DJ Friction for ‘work’ and went to Amsterdam on ‘business’ last October”, he says with a smile. “These are things I would never have thought I’d be doing before I went to City College. I’ve been lucky enough to work within a relatively small company that are at the top of their game with individuals who are constantly teaching me new things.”