Application

 Oxford

 St Hilda’s

 Classics

 2008

 offer made

Applicant

 Other qualifications

 post-qualification

 overseas

 USA

 Independent – selective

I went to an American boarding school.

 yes

Other qualifications

American Advanced Placement Tests (graded 1-5, 5 is best)
Environmental Science: 5
World History: 5
French Language: 4
French Literature: 3
English Literature: 4
English Language: 5
AB Calculus: 5

SATs: (Scores out of 800)
Reading: 740
Writing: 730
Math: 730

SAT Subject Tests:
Math II: 740
French: 740
English: 770

Details about the offer

 unconditional

yes

I have yet to accept it as I am waiting to return to school and confirm everything with my College Counselor, but I am planning to accept the offer.

yes

yes

I applied to Yale University “Early Action” and was accepted, but as I am studying classics, Oxford has a much better program. I like the degree requirements at Oxford, I like that I will only be doing classics and not waiting until my third year to declare a major, and I am looking forward to the experience of studying abroad.

 offer met

Decisions about the application

See above.

I had a teacher at my school who had attended Oxford, and Oxford has the biggest classics department in the world, so I picked it.

I have been studying Ancient Greek for four years and in my third year, I finally found it really enjoyable. In addition, I like that I will be studying the basis of Western thought and civilization in the original language.

I came to visit Oxford over the summer and I had contacted a few tutors from various colleges to try to meet with them. My meeting with the tutor at St. Hilda’s was a great success – she and I had a good conversation and she seemed really interested in me, not just vice-versa. So I figured I may as well apply there.

Preparation

yes

No, I did not get extra help. This is simply because it is an American school where very, very few people apply to Oxbridge each year, so we don’t have much of a process set up.

I don’t know what it is like to be very prepared, but when I went, I felt fine. I don’t think it was necessary to have a lot of preparation. A few things may have gone better if I had had some, like what to do when given a passage before an interview, but mostly it was fine.

Interview

no

yes

Yes, I submitted one paper in Classics and one paper in English, which is just what I had from school.

yes

I had to take the Language Aptitude Test and the Greek GCSE exam. I applied for Course II since I didn’t think my Greek was to A-Level standard, hence the Language aptitude test and the GCSE. The Aptitude test took much longer than I was expecting, so it might be helpful to look over that before you go.

The interviews were less scary than I was expecting. In America, interviews are more like conversations about who you are and the things you do, so I wasn’t sure what to expect out of a really academic interview. The Tutors, however, were really kind and they understand that you are going to be nervous. But they also cut to the chase and spend practically no time with niceties. They are pretty quick, too, which I didn’t really expect.

I had three interviews. The first was with an Ancient Historian and a Philosopher. The second was with an Ancient Greek specialist and a Latin specialist, and it was mostly about literature. The third was a language interview.

In the first, I talked about what makes history writing history rather than just a good story and how fiction is different from just manipulating history to show a given point. I also talked about why it is wrong to lie. For the second interview, I was given a passage from Ajax with a translation and asked what I could tell from it. I also talked about other literature I had read and compared those to Ajax. For the third interview, I just talked about why I wanted to take the Course II track since I already knew a bit of language, and also I talked about grammar details.

I wore skirts for everything, mostly because that’s all I brought. I didn’t know what it would be like, so I figured it was better to appear well dressed and on the nicer side than sloppy.

Impressions

St. Hilda’s is not the typical Oxford college appearance wise. It is newer and smaller, has no quad, and doesn’t have that old architecture. This originally was kind of disappointing, but I now don’t really think it matters. The people at the college seemed great, and it seems like a good community.

The rooms are not really big, but they are fine. It also depends on the building you are in. For my building, there is a twin bed, a desk, a closet, and a sink in every room. The bathroom is down the hall. It’s nothing special, but as compared to some universities I have seen, it’s really quite nice. There is also one building with en-suite bathrooms, a mini-fridge in each room, a bigger bed, and a nicer, built-in desk.

The food was nothing special. It wasn’t awful, but it definitely wasn’t my favorite. There wasn’t a huge variety, and as a vegetarian that made it harder to eat.

They were thought provoking and allowed me to speak about what I thought before they stepped in. They also gave me time to think without feeling under huge amounts of pressure, and they certainly looked for the flaws in my thought and pointed them out. But it wasn’t intimidating, it was just making me think harder and get to the bottom of the problem.

They seemed to enjoy the college and they were friendly and helpful.

Final stage

I tried to forget about it until I knew that the letters might be out. I didn’t know if I would get a letter or an email, so I would wake up in the morning and rush to my computer just to check. At that point I was really anxious to know. I thought I had a good chance at getting an offer, but I also didn’t want to be too excited in case I wasn’t offered a place. Finally, when one of my friends had found out, I called my school mailroom to see if the letter had arrived there (boarding school).

I asked the woman in the mailroom to open my letter over the phone. She read it to me and I found out that I had an offer. It was a pretty basic letter and straight to the point.

Looking back

Absolutely. This experience was actually a lot of fun. The interview period was great because I got to meet a ton of other applicants who were just like me, just not American. Also, the American system is such a hassle compared to the British system, so it was fun to get to try UCAS and what not instead of the Common App and the various supplements you must fill out for each school here.

I guess just don’t worry about it too much. Whatever happens happens. I know it’s hard to listen to this from someone who did get in, but I think part of why I got in was because I was relaxed enough to just be myself in the interviews. I think the same goes for my personal statement – it wasn’t the best written, but it was me, so that’s important.