Introducing CAmSSS: The Tripos advice scheme for Cambridge undergrads

Sign up to the CAmSSS scheme to provide advice to other undergraduates

CUSU’s Class Act campaign, for post-admissions access, are launching a new scheme and creating a shared folder for Cambridge students called the “Cambridge Student Subject Sharing” (CAmSSS) folder.  So far over 120 Cambridge students have signed up for the scheme, with nearly all colleges and subjects being represented. 

The scheme, initiated by Kirstie Goodchild, the Class Act officer for Fitzwilliam College’s JCR, will include a database where students can search for other students who have taken a particular tripos or optional paper. They can then email them for tripos and paper-related academic help. The scheme also includes a folder full of pre-typed anonymous advice, and a guide to use and share notes via the existing CUSU Note Sharing folder.

The CAmSSS folder scheme is scheduled to go live in Michaelmas 2020 and will only be accessible to those with Cambridge email addresses. It is hoped the scheme will aid new and current Cambridge undergraduate students to navigate academic life at Cambridge by giving them access to students who have already faced the experiences they want help with. The scheme seeks to provide advice for undergraduate students on concerns ranging from Tripos-related issues, such as optional papers, helpful resources, or changing Tripos, as well as on more general issues, from tips on writing lecture notes, to funding opportunities, and internships. The scheme needs as many Cambridge students as possible to sign up in order to make the scheme as representative – and helpful – as possible. 

Image shows what the CAmSSS database looks like

The database allows students to filter by tripos, year, college and optional papers

Talking to the Cambridge Tab, Kirstie explained that “I am someone who has really struggled with how to best navigate lectures for my tripos, how to find out first-hand information about optional papers I am interested in taking, and obtaining advice on switching Tripos. From recent messages I have received, and Facebook posts I have seen from other Cambridge students, it is clear that this is not a problem only I am facing. I therefore truly believe that this scheme will make academic life a lot easier for many Cambridge undergraduates.” 

These are sentiments echoed by many of the students who have signed up for the scheme, one of them commenting  “In first year I felt so out of my depth, I even cried in one supervision – in front of a pretty austere academic, yikes! Luckily, a third year sent me some of her notes which made me feel so much better and just gave me a bit of grounding to bounce off of. I’m always looking to pay this forward! Ask me questions, ask me for notes, anything I can do, let me know!”. 

Infrographic encouragin students to sign up for CAmSSS

Sign up today to the scheme to help other undergraduates!

The CUSU Class Act committee have worked with Kirstie to help her to launch this scheme.  Class Act students who face unique academic challenges may particularly benefit from having an additional resource from which to access support with their studies. This may be especially true for students coming from schools with a lower number of (or no other!) students attending Cambridge, who without this scheme may find it more difficult to access course-related advice from older students. That being said, all undergraduates are likely to benefit from being able to efficiently email other students or gain anonymous advice about triposes and optional papers. 

In order to make the CAmSSS folder as successful and comprehensive as possible, the Class Act committee are asking Cambridge students to sign up to be part of the database if they would be happy to answer undergraduate students’ tripos-related questions and provide them with advice via email. You can sign up as an email volunteer here. There is also a separate form here to provide anonymous advice – either for general Tripos-related issues, or for particular optional papers. You do not have to be an expert on your subject to sign-up, just friendly and willing to give advice to students on a similar academic journey to you!

Graph showing the number of students per subject who have signed up

MML has had the highest level of sign ups, whilst a number of subjects have not yet received any volunteers

Any Cambridge student who is currently completing or has completed a Cambridge undergraduate degree, including recent graduates, current Cambridge undergraduates or any incoming postgraduate students who did their undergraduate degree at Cambridge, can volunteer to be part of the database, and your contact details can be removed at any time. 

Emmanuel college currently has the highest number of sign ups

By creating this scheme, Kirstie hopes that in the future “Cambridge students won’t have to struggle so much to find a friendly person who is willing to give them honest and insightful tripos and paper advice. This will ultimately make Cambridge a much more accessible place for all students, which is exactly what the Class Act campaign is all about”.

More information can be found on the Google forms but if you have any unanswered questions, feel free to contact [email protected]. To find out more about Class Act check out their Facebook page here – and do not forget to sign up and share this wonderful scheme!

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All image credits to Kirstie Goodchild and Olivia Taylor.