How Wycombe Abbey Helped Me Prepare for Life at Cambridge University

December 28, 2017 | Janet Yung

Note: all images below are sourced from and

Why is boarding school becoming increasingly attractive for parents and students alike?

Many choose the option of going abroad for the secondary school years in order to prepare for university, particularly due to the academic rigours of some of the top boarding schools.

My personal choice was Wycombe Abbey School, an independent girls boarding school in the UK. The school currently boasts a 33% Oxford/Cambridge acceptance rate, and this pretty much drove the decision to apply there.

What I didn’t realise at the time was that there was more to university preparation than just a stellar academic environment.

Wycombe Abbey was definitely what I had imagined in terms of academic preparation. There were senior tutors, multiple teaching staff and university counsellor sessions to support my application for Cambridge University throughout the academic year. You are always encouraged to be on top of things, which is crucial to meet application deadlines.

I thought the thorough academic support would’ve been enough. Yet, Wycombe Abbey also encourages its students to live life as if they were already at university.

In the final year of Wycombe, all girls merge into one large senior house – Clarence. Split into nine mini-houses, and you choose about six other ‘housemates’ to live with. Each house gets its own pantry, kitchen, lounge area, and separate dormitories – synonymous to a lot of university campuses.

What does living university-style during the Upper Sixth Form teach you? Well, first and foremost, you learn (or are forced to pick up) housemate etiquette. Living with a bunch of friends can seem like a blast. But when it comes to maintaining a clean kitchen and other common areas, even the best of friends can get into spats without a clear system.

Clarence girls are also responsible for some cooking. Wycombe Abbey is famous for its top-notch comprehensive catering (see a sample menu here), and Clarence girls can still attend school lunches. To imitate university life more realistically, Clarence girls can cook their own breakfasts and dinners. The only difference is that food and material are stocked in the common kitchens, so that grocery shopping isn’t necessary!

Clarence House, in a nutshell, is a sneak peak into what university campus life will be. I haven’t even begun to touch upon the upper form activities, guest-talks, and other incredible opportunities that are offered to enrich your time there. This experience wouldn’t have been the same had I stayed within the comforts of home 6,000 miles away!

To find out more about Ampla Education’s UK boarding school admissions consulting and admissions test preparation courses, contact us at



Janet enjoys teaching humanities subjects as well as Business Studies, Economics, English and Maths. Educated in both Hong Kong and England, she has helped students of all ages with interview and entrance exam preparation, university admissions in addition to IGCSE, A-Level and IB exams. Janet went to Wycombe Abbey before studying Land Economy at the University of Cambridge. Her extensive work experience from the education, property and financial sector enables her to work with students of all ages in an engaging manner.



© Ampla Education  –  Unauthorised use of this material without permission is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full credit is given to Ampla Education.

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