Application

 Oxford

 Oriel

 Classics

 2006

 offer made

Applicant

 A-levels

 post-qualification

 home

 United Kingdom

 Independent – selective

I have read Mathematics and Physics at Cambridge University, and so am not applying directly from a school.

 yes (7 A*,5 A,1 B)

A-levels

(A at AS)

(A at AS)

(A at AS)

(A at AS)

(A at AS)

(A at AS)

My school also forced me to do General Studies (A). I didn’t sit any STEP exams or AEAs because they weren’t part of my Cambridge offer, and don’t form part of the Oxford offer for Classics.

Details about the offer

 unconditional

yes

I had 7 interviews in total at Oriel, St Hilda’s and Greyfriars, and my offer was from Greyfriars 🙂 It’s really friendly there and I loved it!

N/A

 offer met

Decisions about the application

Well, I had already been to Cambridge and then felt like trying “the other place”.

Cambridge is better for Sciences, Oxford for Arts.

Whilst I enjoyed studying Maths & Physics, I didn’t find it personally enriching, and I was missing the Classics which I had done at school. I wanted to make it more than a hobby, and to study it in an environment which would challenge me.

At Cambridge, I was at a College that was a little out of the way, and so decided that I’d be shallow and go for location, but also a smallish College. Oriel had a very friendly and close knit atmosphere. I can’t say I agonised over the whole process very much.

Preparation

no

One of my friends tried to give me a mock interview, but he couldn’t keep a straight face. Neither could I. I virtually choked when he said he wanted to be called Professor…

Try to relax the weekend before your interviews. Go out with friends. Do anything that lets (or rather forces) your mind to relax. And don’t cram. That’s about the worst thing you can do, because it only heightens your anxiety (trust me, been there many times).

Interview

no

yes

I had to submit two essays. The first was “What is the role of the gods in Virgil’s Aeneid with particular reference to Book X”, and the second was “Is Sophocles’ Electra a tragedy?”. Since I wasn’t at a centre and I wanted to make a good impression, I put a lot of effort into those essays to make up for any weaknesses later on.

no

I had to sit three tests whilst in Oxford.

Interview 1: Philosophy interview at Oriel (with 25 mins preparation for 3 problems). I loved my interviewers. The guy was absolutely lovely and had a real sense of humour. It was like an informal chat rather than an interrogation and they both helped to lead me through the questions. Fortunately, he told me that he’d thought of lots of my answers when he wrote the questions, so I thought I’d done OK. Interview 2: Classics interview at Oriel (with 15 mins preparation time to look at a Keats poem). AWFUL! I hadn’t read the Odyssey or Illiad in English due to lack of time really, and was made to feel like a bit of an idiot. The same with Virgil’s Aeneid. My defense is that all that I have done, I’ve done in Latin or Greek, not my own language. I then said I hadn’t read any other plays of Sophocles other than Electra, when I have read Antigone. I was getting stressed by this stage and felt like crying (but I didn’t). I then had to identify an object. I got that it was a christian oil lamp, but said it may be from 3rd century AD (how the hell was I supposed to know it wasn’t legalised until 4th?! I never claimed to be interested in this!). Fortunately, the English poem went quite well. Everyone said that this interview had gone badly, because they seemed to be playing “good cop, bad cop”. I’m not sure I totally agree with this, but I didn’t feel they tested my linguistic capabilities overly…but, I have learnt stuff from that interview. Interview 3: At St Hilda’s. Lovely Classics tutors. I loved them. Friendly, enthusiastic and a sense of humour. I can’t praise them highly enough. I also liked the feel of the College, though I didn’t see much of it. Everyone seemed happy there. I spoke for literally 20 mins about Virgil, the role of women in society and I seem to recall subjecting them to one of my rants about Clytemnestra… Interview 4: At St Benet’s (on behalf of Greyfriars). A Classics interview on homosexuality!!!! Imagine me sitting there, trying not to offend anyone, with Father John and another guy. I felt embarrassed, but they were both lovely. I could have hugged them. Very cheerful and they found it funny that I was trying to avoid being graphic about the physical nature of some guy’s relationship! Interview 5: A Philosophy interview at St Benet’s (on behalf of Greyfriars). This was harder than the one I’d had at Oriel. I felt they were really testing me to the limit. It was about inflicting pain and whether it was justified if it were for the greater good. It was so hard, I was almost swearing to myself sitting there and I thought “I bet they think I’m thick.”. I felt relieved when it finished, although I was able to answer a few questions on my essays, which I was pleased about. Interview 6: This was a general interview with the Warden and Senior Tutor at Greyfriars. I was really nervous because I had heard of how academic the College was, and the Warden, the College Classics tutor, was at Merton College for 37 years before joining Greyfriars so I was thinking “OK, I’m going to get slaughtered academically here”. I tried not to raise my hopes, but when I arrived at the College, it was so warm and friendly that I loved it almost immediately. Some of the friars came out to speak to me and it was the first time someone had asked me how I was since I had been in Oxford (other than my parents!). In my interview, I was made to feel so at ease! It was more a general chat than anything and I started to think how I’d like it if I ended up at Greyfriars, but still in my mind was “you’re not clever enough”. They only take 2 people for Classics a year, and I didn’t think it’d be me. I was asked no trick questions and they asked me about some of my non-academic interests and they showed an interest in what I did. They really tried to get to know me as a person, and I liked that because it meant I was more to them than just another “number”. Interview 7: This was back at Oriel with another of the Classics tutors, and was designed to test my linguistic ability. I had 20 mins to prepare some work which I went through in the interview. My interviewer was lovely and told me I was excellent (but I did like her before she said this!!).

It was varied and went from Virgil to Homer to Keats to inflicting pain to oil lamps to homosexuality to how I learn languages.

See above, or send me a message for more information.

I wore a suit to every single interview, because I wanted my interviewers to know I was taking the whole process seriously, and that I had a great respect for them.

Impressions

Oriel- very pretty, lovely location. Very sporty, but great if you’re that way inclined. (As it so happens, I’m useless at sport!)
St Hilda’s- didn’t see much of it, but I actually like its location on the river and I thought it was very pretty. Very quiet too. (And lovely porters!)
St Benet’s Hall- very nice JCR with a grand piano, and a very homely library.
Greyfriars- awesome JCR with sky, leather reclining chairs, DVDs, an inflatable sheep. Small College, but a nice light hall with huge windows, a very pretty and well kept garden, a small library, but it is growing. Right next to the University sports grounds 🙂

Only saw Oriel accommodation and my room was en-suite and had a lovely view over Oriel Street.

Ummmmm, well, nice, but shall we say, a few things on the following day were familiar…

On the whole, lovely. I liked them at all of the Colleges I went to, but I’m very happy to have ended up with Dr Richardson 😀

Normal people who were up for a fun time. Very welcoming. At Greyfriars, they’re really like a family- non judgemental and just really really kind.

Final stage

I was so nervous I basically stopped eating and felt sick all the time. Lots of people received letters on Saturday, but I got mine on the Monday and that weekend was pure hell. I didn’t think I’d be quite as bad as I was, but because I’d had such a lovely time, it meant a huge amount to me.

I had both of my parents standing next to me. I opened the one from Oriel saying they couldn’t take me, but that another College was going to, and we all screamed and went through the rest of the post to see if there was anything else there. We all wanted me to get into Greyfriars. At the bottom of the pile, there was an envelope addressed to me, but with no College crest, and I wasn’t sure if it was junk mail or not. But I opened it and the Greyfriars Newsletter fell out and I SCREAMED. It was a really friendly letter and they actually said many congratulations in the letter 🙂

Looking back

YES!!! I had a lovely time and I’ve got into a wonderful College and community. I loved all three Colleges I was at, but Greyfriars feels like home. I’m not what anyone would call a religious person, but Greyfriars admit on academic performance, not what you believe in, so I’d encourage anyone to look into it. It is academic, but don’t let that put you off and it is small, but what a WONDERFUL place it is!

If you’re still reading this profile, you deserve a prize for sticking with my antics, lol!
Put time and effort into your essays. Read them through thoroughly and make sure you can talk about them and cross reference everything.
Take the weekend before you interviews off and let yourself relax, or you’ll be too tired to perform as well as you could.
Visit the Colleges before you apply to get a feel for each one, they are all different.
If you think I’ve said any words of wisdom, just send me a message and I’ll rant a little more!