I read Law at Trinity College, Cambridge.
It doesn’t really get any better than that. It’s one of the hardest subjects to get accepted for – and at the best college, at the best university, in the world. Pretty much.
And it’s my greatest regret.
In 1986 I applied to Cambridge to read Maths – that was, and is, my true love. But I was rejected. The truth is I just wasn’t good enough. I had offers from all four of my other choices and my maths teacher recommended Manchester: he thought it would be a great fit for me.
But I was a snotty little public school boy and I wanted to go to Cambridge. So I applied again after I’d taken my A levels, and I applied for Law because . . . well, because they wouldn’t take me for Maths and being a lawyer looked cool on TV.
And I’ve regretted it ever since.
Don’t get me wrong. Cambridge is a fantastic university: the facilities were breathtaking, the teaching outstanding. I still enjoy telling people I went to Cambridge: they’re always impressed – admit it: you are, too! – because there’s nowhere better.
But it wasn’t the right course for me. After I graduated I then had to start all over again and take a second degree in the subject I really wanted to study. And second time round I had to do it while holding down a full-time job: no more student life for me.
So a big theme in this book is this: be honest with yourself – about who you really are, and what you really want.
I’m not saying it’s easy. But the consequences are serious if you get it wrong. Back in my day not only were there no tuition fees, we got a maintenance grant to pay for food and accommodation: we were paid to go to university. If you make the wrong choices, not only will it cost you time, it may cost you thousands of pounds in student loan repayments.
So which university is right for you?