Application

 Cambridge

 Christ’s (open application, allocated college)

 Archaeology & Anthropology

 1998

 pooled, offer made (Churchill)

Applicant

 A-levels

 pre-qualification

 N/A

 N/A

 Comprehensive School

 yes (1 A*,9 A,1 B)

A-levels

(A at AS; predicted A; gained A at A2)

(A at AS; predicted A; gained A at A2)

(A at AS; predicted A; gained A at A2)

Details about the offer

 conditional

AAA

yes

N/A

 offer met

Decisions about the application

I was predicted high grades, and I wanted to see if I could get in. I wanted to set myself a challenge!

Seeing as I only live 20 minutes away from Oxford, I thought it would be a better idea for me to go to Cambridge.

I was really stupid. It was the only college that I went to an open day for, and as it was really beautiful, I picked that one

Preparation

yes

We had a couple of talks from Cambridge undergraduates, and my head of 6th Form helped with the form filling stuff. I didn’t get any practice interviews though.

The form: Make sure that you spell everything right! Don’t try to go too overboard on talking about all the things that you’ve done, just pick a few of the best ones!

The interview: Read a bit around the subject. You probably won’t have studied it before, so they are likely to ask you what you think that it will entail. I read a few bits and pieces, bits from a text book I read, and it’s also good to look at different things from the three subject areas (Social Anthropology, Biological Anthropology and Archaeology) If you’re particularly interested in one, be prepared for the interviewer to want you to talk about that.

Interview

no

yes

Yes, but it was all a big rush as Christ’s misplaced my application form and I only knew about my interview two days before it. I sent a couple of english essays and a human biology one as well.

no

I had two at Christ’s, one with the admissions tutor, and the other with the Arch & Anth Director of Studies. The first was incredibly short and horrible, and the second one was much more relaxed, and I actually got to talk about the subject.

At Churchill, because I was pooled, I only got one interview, with the Arch & Anth DOS there. It was a much more relaxed interview, because it mixed up all the “social life” stuff with stuff about the course. I actually enjoyed it, and I did come out with a much better feeling than I did at Christ’s.

Course based things – especially “how would you define Anthropology?” Social things – generally just about the stuff I had done during 6th Form. I was lucky I think, I didn’t have to answer any really taxing questions, there were none of the horrible logic or problem solving questions that one Oxford tutor who came to talk to us about led us to believe there would be!

I just dressed smartly, but I did wear something I was comfortable in, I was nervous enough – I didn’t need any more pressure, especially not at my Churchill interview!

Impressions

Christ’s was really beautiful, but it did seem very academic – and that’s definitely true!

First year rooms are in a horrible concrete “typewriter”. But compared to student accomodation I’d seen at UCL and Durham, it was quite a bit newer and bigger. And cheaper!

Edible but not great

We only got “nibbles in the great hall” – don’t know if that’s really representative.

The few I met were very nice, the Arch and Anth director of studies actually started me off thinking about that subject at the open day, I was originally planning to study english.

Didn’t see any students (in retrospect, maybe this was a bad sign!)

Final stage

I cried! It was on new year’s eve, and until my dad reread the letter, I didn’t realise I’d been put in the pool. I really didn’t expect anything to come of that though

Looking back

Yes, but I would definitely look at more colleges. I was very naive, and although it’s always going to be arbitrary, if I had actually got into Christ’s I don’t think that I would have stayed in Cambridge. It’s very academically orientated, and the work here is stressful enough without being at a college that shut it’s college bar at 8pm every night.

I wouldn’t ever have even thought of Churchill, as it’s primarily a science college, and arts students are a real minority. But all in all, I love it!

Pick your college carefully – talk to students, find out about it etc. You might live to regret it if you don’t!