Secondary school: Winchester College, all 5 years
University destination: Imperial College London, MEng Aeronautical Engineering
Probably walking around, being overwhelmed and not being able to find anything. There was quite a steep learning curve for everything really. The school has buildings interspersed within the city of Winchester (but slightly away from the city centre) that are nicely spaced out, so everything is within a 10 minute walk.
I think the overall environment that I was put in is the aspect that stands out to me the most. It really is unique and completely different from anything you might have at a day school and certainly a world away from what I had previously. It’s extremely liberating and allows you to push yourself far more. The grounds are extraordinarily pretty; this is something I unfortunately only realised after leaving. Notably, there’s an appreciation for your talents outside of exams that some other schools lack. Winchester really understood the difference between exam technique and intelligence.
The atmosphere, although excellent in most aspects, can be a little disconnected with the rest of the world (to the detriment of the behaviour of some students). But then that’s most boarding schools.
Many – it’s all part of the experience! There are all sorts of quirky aspects I found over the course of 5 years; this made it quite interesting to walk around – and that’s just the physical ones.
Really good – you’ve got to look and ask for it, though. I was going to informal lectures at 8pm once a week (completely voluntarily) on General Relativity, which was far above what we were learning normally. There are house tutors (Dons) in each house every evening; depending on your subjects and house they could either be very helpful to you academically or not very much at all. There’s always a good mix of subjects between them though. We also had dons come up to house in the evenings sometimes (in addition to house tutors) to help us answer questions etc. especially during exam periods. The support is very much enhanced from what you would get at a day school.
Yes, everyone is required to attend some form of service on Sunday – Chapel, Mass, or Faith Circles for those who aren’t Christian/agnostic/atheist etc.
It’s difficult to choose, actually, because there was a huge variety of extra-curriculars that I was able to experience. Probably my sailing – I won multiple regional and national championships over 5 years with my team of 6; that was my main sport at the school.
Depends on your grades – they’ll emphasise it as much as you do, but they make sure to tell you about and give you as many options as possible.
Yes. The Old Wykehamist community is fairly active.
No. Don’t get a Sargent’s.
When I was there it was a 100% boarding school, however, I believe they’re introducing day pupils in the very near future.
Grounded, eccentric, intellectual.
Secondary school: Winchester College, ‘92-97
University destination: Oxford University, English
The campus is very spread out, and everywhere seemed to be its own little eco-system of frankly baffling rules and customs. Initially forbidding, but quickly fascinating.
Autonomy. Outside classes you were trusted to do as much or as little as you wanted. Consequently, there were some genuinely eccentric characters making the place interesting. No kind of blimpish ‘hooray for the dear old school’ type nonsense to be endured.
Without wanting to sound pious, nothing really. That said, I have heard that in more recent times it’s had a few overly-religious Headmasters doing their best to foster a frankly creepy level of ‘faith-infused learning’, or some such bilge. That, I would happily see die a lonely death in the woods.
Well yes – the school is not all that far off being 1000 years old, so you can imagine some weird traits linger on: The peculiar slang, the trips en masse to St Catherine’s hill for various ceremonies, the bonfire nights. I could go on at considerable length…
Pretty much impeccable, I would say. Obviously, they’ve done a lot of pre-sorting, so there weren’t too many laggards who needed significant propping-up, and a high standard was expected and enforced. But the ‘Dons’ (teachers), were almost without exception, fantastic.
See my answer to question 3. It certainly had no overt focus on religion while I was there (barring the essentially lip-service regimen of regular chapel). If that has changed in any lasting way the school is all the poorer for it.
‘Co’-curricular? Is this some neologism because ‘extra’-curricular has taken on an undesirable tint? I never knowingly participated in any co-curricular activities; my extra-curricular activities though were too wide-ranging for me to pick any one favourite.
Probably an entirely sane amount. If you wanted to study there, were deemed capable of throwing your hat in, and didn’t have such a specific degree in mind that would have indicated a better choice, it was readily available as an option. I don’t recall any emphasis, or pressure, as a free-standing concept.
I have at various points. I knew some people who taught there, and I was involved in a production at the Minack theatre with the Winchester College players.
We didn’t have detentions, rather something called a ‘sergeants’ – a punishment based around an early wake up and inconvenient signing-in procedure. I may have set something of a school record for the number of these I received, especially in my first 2 years there.
Back then it wasn’t so systematised. Everyone had a sense of which Dons had a particular simpatico, and were inclined to lend an ear to any personal woes.
I will not answer any of these bonus questions