Coming from a strong family farming background, attending Agricultural College felt like a rite of passage. Life at Cirencester seems a distant memory now and farming is certainly in a different (most would agree better) place now than when I left in 2005. But has it equipped me for the future in the way that I would have hoped?
There is no doubt that most of us had a fantastic time at Ciren, made life-long friends and still feel a strong attachment to the place. But you can’t help but wonder sometimes what life would have been like at a rival Ag college (read Harper etc!)
The negative points when I look back have been the slightly parochial nature of a specialist agri college, rather than say a university with an agri department. While this undoubtedly gives a unique sense of pride, you could argue that for an industry trying to reach out to politicians, consumers and others, having a web of “non-farming” friends could have its long-term advantages. But I do find that despite moving out of the industry people have still heard of and respect the Cirencester “brand”.
I remember driving up the college drive for the open day and those cold, windswept buildings and the immaculate, almost “ministerial” feel of the reception and wondering how I’d fit in – I’ll admit it’s cliquey to say the least! The social life was good – the May ball excellent, although I know that some colleges held more events over the weekends than Ciren which was sometimes frustrating when everyone else had gone home and left you at uni on your tod!
The setting was one of the major plus points – picturesque but not too rural, plenty of people but not so big that nobody would recognize you. The lecturers were personable and really knew their stuff which mattered (to some of us at least!) One of the first things I point out to anyone considering their Agri college options now, is that those of us who came from county agri colleges with a National Diploma background often found ourselves frustrated, feeling that we were covering old ground. I also sensed that the buzz of college life maybe didn’t quite have the same “electric” feel to us as it did to those straight out of boarding school.
So would I go to Ciren if I had the choice again? Actually, I’d probably opt for a change of scenery and have a go at a maths or physics degree instead (if I survived in London that is).
writes David J