Life as a part-time student at Lucy Cavendish

by Caroline Vinall on 8 January 2018


If you have reached this blog and are thinking about part-time study at the University of Cambridge, then you are either going through or have gone through the process of working out if you have the time and energy to complete further study and are looking at which colleges will support you in your goals.

Hopefully this short blog about my own experience may help you to work out what you want from a college as a part-timer and hopefully, that Lucy Cavendish might be the right place for you.

As a teaching professional with a small child and nearing the ‘Life begins at…’ birthday, a college for mature students was my first requirement, followed by one that was family-oriented. My husband and I brought our son to a children’s literature evening in my first year and we loved it. We have been to College quite a few times together and my little boy loves feeding the green dragons with stones…

As for women-only, in a profession where there is a new movement called ♯WomenEd and women are being encouraged to be 10% braver, possibly subconsciously, I wanted to belong to a college where gender was simply not an issue.

I had visited Lucy Cavendish in 2013 as a conference guest and was struck by the intimate layout of the site, the mix of old and new buildings, as well as the trail-blazing nature of the foundation of Lucy as a Cambridge College. It also struck me that the absence of a formal gate, or keep out signs made the College much more welcoming and approachable.

As a part-time student, there are plenty of opportunities to participate in college life and to interact with full time students. Of course only being in Cambridge once or twice a week makes things more difficult, however the College Tutors and Students’ Union arrange a huge variety of events throughout the year and it really is up to you to attend as many as you wish. If nothing takes your fancy, then organise something!

I have attended formals with a friend and on my own and with members of my course. As a family we have dressed up for the Roald Dahl Supper and listened to carols under the Christmas Tree. I have volunteered for the Garden Party Committee and met for a ‘Part-Timers Brunch’, which was hosted by one of the Senior Tutors. I was also delighted to become a ‘published author’ when the student magazine, the Cavendish Chronicle held a short story competition. It does require you to be pro-active and, dare I say it, 10% braver, however I have met so many lovely and interesting people as a result of just turning up.

Being a part-time student is not without its difficulties, as you will already be aware. Juggling the many different part-time aspects of your life will add up to more than 1.0 on many occasions, but stick with it. Knowing that there is a College network, which is unrelated to your Faculty or your course means that you do feel fully supported in your part-time studies and in the rest of your life at those times when everything seems to happen at once.

Finally, my main reason for loving Lucy is that Lucy listens.

The College is made up of the most diverse set of wonderful women and everyone has a unique story to tell. Everyone is interesting, so everyone is interested.

That is what makes Lucy Cavendish so special and why I am proud to be a Lucian.

You can find out more about coming here as a part-time student on the webpage here - best of luck!

Caroline Vinall, Part-time student 2016-2018, Masters in Education - Educational Leadership and School Improvement