Sixth Former Danny Cowan-Turner recently spent eight weeks studying at Harvard University. His subject was introductory biology and, of the 120 students who started the course, just 80 completed it.
Danny said: ‘To get into my course you had to write an essay and send in your exam results. I did fast track science and sent a report over with references from teachers. According to my professor it was the hardest course there. It was basically degree level biology shrunk down. Normal Harvard students would do that course in six to eight months. We completed it in two months. Basically we would be doing a massive amount of work for two weeks followed by an exam. I was really prepared for it although I knew it was amazingly hard work I had to keep going and push myself.’
The course attracted about 40 per cent of foreign students and Danny met three other Britons on his course including one who studied at Eton: ‘I met people from all over the world. Every weekday we would have three hours of lectures and then we would have our social life. I couldn’t single out what was the best experience as there was so much, from going to see the Boston Red Sox baseball team, to putting up the Union Jack on Independence Day. I went to New York, saw some gigs, went to Boston every day and lived off pizza and Ben and Jerry’s ice cream.’
Danny is studying the three sciences, maths and further maths at A Level. During the Harvard course he performed complex experiments, such as separating the DNA of an ant and a bacteria, to see if the ant was infected with the bacteria.
Danny said: ‘Harvard was amazing. The best thing was meeting new people and gaining more knowledge. I met incredibly smart people who have gone on to do amazingly smart things. My professor had helped discover the structure of P53, a tumour suppressing protein that, when mutated can cause 50 per cent of cancers. I am potentially thinking of studying in America but it is very costly at about $50,000 dollars a year. Ideally I would like to go into medicine or biological research as a career.’