Our former student Sarah Fong shares her experiences of studying the IFP, and why you should choose Kent
Sarah Fong is one of our former International Foundation Programme students who successfully graduated from BSc Psychology at Kent in July 2018. She has recently begun a Master’s degree in Statistics at Oxford University. Below, Sarah shares her experiences on the IFP and how it prepared her for higher education in the UK.
What features of the IFP appealed to you?
I enjoyed both the social and academic aspects of the IFP course. What I found most gratifying was the interpersonal interactions with my peers and lecturers.
I spent about half of my days at lectures and seminars and because of that, I got to know my classmates very well. We would have a meal or chill out in between and after classes. It makes studying an enjoyable experience when you have your friends with you.
The lecturers were extremely obliging and supportive. This was in part due to the smaller class size compared to that in undergraduate level. Lecturers were ever accommodating in furnishing us the exact reasons or feedback on the assignment marks, providing an opportunity for our further improvements. This is crucial for international students from diverse cultural and educational backgrounds because it assists in a successful transition from dissimilar school systems to a more independent and challenging university life. For example, in my schooling, emphasis was on rote learning where information was memorised repetitively and regurgitated during exams. Thankfully, IFP introduced me to critical thinking and creativity in research and essay writing which I am grateful that I could meet the challenges imposed by my undergraduate assignments and examinations.
Another advantageous aspect of the IFP is the freedom of choosing your three electives where you have the opportunity to study three self-chosen subjects before deciding on your degree pathway. I did law, politics and psychology. If I didn’t have such a freedom of choice, I might have ended in the wrong degree!
In what ways did the IFP benefit your undergraduate degree?
The IFP has helped significantly in my degree studies and has prepared me with the skills to write in the UK academic style. For example, using transition words, structuring arguments and emphasising on critical analysis. It also taught us how to reference and avoid plagiarism, with exercises on how to paraphrase and summarise ideas using our own words. It eliminated my worry and shock when I encountered these assignments in my undergraduate degree and I felt confident of what was expected of me.
What are your plans after your degree?
After IFP I chose to study BSc in Psychology. During my undergraduate years, my interest shifted from psychology to statistics, so for postgraduate study I will be continuing with a Master’s degree at the University of Oxford, pursuing statistics in the educational field. Subsequent to this, I hope to have a career as an academician or a statistical analyst.
How do you find Canterbury?
As I grew up in a city, Canterbury has been a nice change for me. It has everything a student needs from supermarkets to restaurants, bars, clubs, cinemas, theatres and many retail outlets. Also, it caters for those who value quiet and less busy places like myself, as there many parks to relax and read. I often walk along the River Stour just to unwind.
Usually I spend my weekdays studying and during the weekend I hop on a bus to many nearby places to explore like Whitstable, Deal or Dover. Being a student at UKC, I get a discounted bus pass for easy travel from my accommodation to UKC or for leisure travel since with the pass there is no additional cost when travelling in Kent and East Sussex.
Would you recommend the IFP?
I would absolutely recommend the IFP. At the time when I took the IFP, I did not realise the extent of the benefits that I was getting from it. With hindsight I can see that the Academic Skills is definitely one of the most important modules that it offers. It is beneficial for learning how to think critically as you are often expected to do so without much guidance in your undergraduate level. I would definitely recommend the IFP, as the name suggests it gives you a foundation of knowledge upon which to enter a UK undergraduate degree. Without it, university would have been more of a struggle.
Why did you select the University of Kent?
I was eager to get started with my university education and wanted to do so abroad. I had seen from the brochures that UKC was in a nice peaceful area with many eateries and green spaces. Moreover, UKC offered an IFP program that started in January which suited my needs.
Did you enjoy your time with other students?
The IFP group was very diversified. I made friends from many countries including Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Greece, Italy, Thailand and Georgia.
We formed long lasting friendships, and we continued to meet up even now in our third year. In the IFP group, a tighter bond with each other was formed because we are mostly in the same boat – living far away from our homes and families.
Besides the social aspect, I found my peers in IFP to be a hardworking group. We all studied together until late and supported each other throughout the course.
Any advice for potential students considering the IFP?
I would definitely advise international students to take the IFP course. Without it, you might feel quite lost. Embarking on this course will be help to ease you into university level studies by learning to speak and write in English professionally. Moreover, the groups in IFP are smaller and everyone is in a similar situation; ergo, it is much easier to mingle, develop relationships and to ask for help when it is needed. An undergraduate degree, by contrast, assumes that you already have a certain level of fluency and knowledge, so you may find the IFP to be invaluable for these reasons. I would say that the IFP provided a solid foundation for my future academic endeavours.