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How to leave Cambridge

I attended Churchill College at the University of Cambridge from September 1966 to June 1967, reading Mechanical Sciences.

I was sent down at the end of the first year.

This was pretty much deliberate on my part, since I found it difficult to leave in any other way. I had applied for a job with ICT, but their response was just to advise me to complete my degree and then apply again (which I had no intention of doing). I told the Senior Tutor (Richard H. Tizard at that time) that I wanted to leave, but that seemed to have no effect. I made the mistake during the college exams of answering the questions I could answer (rather than the spread I was supposed to be answering) and of using a neat shortcut in one of the electricity questions. This convinced the senior tutor that I was bright but rebellious and that I probably could have answered a spread of questions if I had attempted them. This was wrong. I was spending most of my time on the computer in the Engineering labs and all other aspects of Engineering had become rather boring to me, so I wasn't learning as much as I should have been, in the areas likely to be examined.

By the time the University exams came up I was heading for a fail. To help it along I failed to show up for the drawing exam (drawing!). When I got in the thermodynamics exam, which I was relying on failing well, I discovered to my dismay that there were too many questions I could have a stab at answering. This might have resulted in me scraping through, so I just didn't attempt to answer any questions at all.

By these means I did manage to fail the exams. In fact Mr. Tizard was evidently puzzled at how well I had managed to fail them. Nevertheless he was very understanding. Had I wished to continue, he offered to arrange some councelling, and provided that I accepted councelling and wished to continue, that would be possible. I didn't, so they sent me down.

Notwithstanding my eagerness to get out, Churchill College was a fine place to be, and I enjoyed myself greatly. It was a much more civilised place to be than the Universities I subsequently attended. Nevertheless, I wasn't interested in what they were dishing up on the Mechanical Sciences course, and I really wasn't interested in spending three years doing Engineering, not even for the sake of a good time and a Cambridge degree. For some reason I thought I could get a job in computing (I don't remember how I figured this out, but I was right), so that's what I did.


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