Jake Helliwell

After the first year was finished, I definitely felt like I had matured a lot as a person.


How did you decide on your degree choice? What appealed about Manchester?

Maths was always fun at school and I seemed to be quite good at it, so choosing a degree in maths was an exciting prospect. I consider myself lucky as I took a liking to the subject at school, and from then on had my sights set on continuing with it.

Being from Manchester didn’t affect my choice to study in my home city. The University of Manchester has an excellent mathematics department, and when I visited the Alan Turing Building I knew instantly that Manchester was where I wanted to be. 

The building is truly amazing and it was a key factor in my decision. A good learning environment is extremely important because it encourages you to do work, and to work hard.

What were your first impressions of the University and the city?

I was surprised at how busy the student area, just outside of the city centre, was. It was exciting to think I could be studying here as the quality of the infrastructure was very impressive. Each building has extensive learning support, which is great for creating a productive work environment.

The city is also great: the best way to describe Manchester would be 'diverse'. If you want to experience a student scene the city can certainly accommodate, with the areas like Fallowfield. If you want a more sophisticated experience, then the city centre can amply provide. Manchester is a great city to suit every need, so when deciding where to study, be sure to remember that you won’t always want the same thing and it’s great to have choice. 

What are you most enjoying about your course?

I thoroughly enjoy the structure of my course, having a set of lecture notes to revise from, having an organised set of modules to accomplish and, most importantly, the quality of the lecturers. In my current year if it weren’t for some of the lecturers I have, I would definitely be struggling with the material.

Mathematics is a very interesting subject. The teaching at school and college is very mainstream, and doesn’t really pay testament to the kind of mathematics you learn at university. I thoroughly enjoy the abstract material and the interesting module topics, from which there is a lot to choose from. 

What skills and attributes do you think you have gained from your course and co-curricular activities so far?

After the first year was finished, I definitely felt like I had matured a lot as a person. They say university is a big change from college and in one sense that is true - it has been one of the best changes I have experienced.

The reason being the quality of education at Manchester. It is easy to take it for granted, but after studying mathematics here I can honestly say that I can’t think of anything that could have improved my experience. 

How do you think you are benefitting from studying at Manchester?

The education is top quality and the lecturers are really approachable. Over the past two years I have definitely developed my social skills and become a more professional person. The whole environment encourages learning; for example the new Alan Gilbert Learning Commons, which is open twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, is excellent.

Since I am from Manchester from the start of the second year I started to commute from home each day, which has been extremely convenient. Manchester's student area is easily accessible from all around the city, with a good bus service and plenty of car parking. 

What advice would you give to students considering applying for the same course that you took?

My advice for prospective students would be: it is absolutely essential that you visit the Alan Turing Building. Being a college student, you tend not think that a building can be so influential, but the School of Mathematics is based in this building and it really is an amazing place to learn and study. The contemporary design is all about bringing in natural light and when you’re cracking out a four-page proof, it really helps to not be doing it in a dark, dingy closet with a candle!

Specifically with mathematics, I think it’s important that you go into your degree with a very open mind. Mathematics is an easy subject if you can get your head around it. But the way maths is taught at college doesn’t really provoke thought, it’s just mindless memorising. If you approach the course with an eagerness to learn and to accept things that seem to make no sense, then I’m sure you will be fine.

If you are wondering about applying for the three or four year course, they are completely interchangeable so don’t worry about applying for the four year, even if you might not want to do the final year.

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