Application

 Oxford

 Lincoln

 Engineering Science

 2001

 offer made

Applicant

 A-levels

 pre-qualification

 N/A

 N/A

 Grammar School

 yes (6 A*,4 A)

A-levels

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

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

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

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

Details about the offer

 conditional

A in Mathematics, A in Physics

A

yes

N/A

 offer met

Decisions about the application

At school I was always fairly academically minded and when it came to choosing universities it seemed sensible to do so in that mindset. There was also the challenge of seeing if I was good enough, and I suppose the expectation from other people that I would apply to Oxford or Cambridge, which I wasn?t pressurised to fulfil, but I wanted to do so.

Primarily it was probably a cosmetic thing with Oxford just seeming such a nicer (not very descriptive I know) place. Course wise there?s relatively little in the way they?re approached to begin with (IMO) so that wasn?t such a significant factor. I got the impression that Oxford was a more relaxed and enjoyable environment while still being strong academically.

My teacher at school who arranged for pupils to visit on the open days chose me to visit Lincoln (admittedly her son also goes there) and I really enjoyed the visit there, and so decided to apply there. During the day I also looked round some of the other colleges, some of which impressed me, but Lincoln had a ?homely? feel to it which most of the other colleges didn?t match. It also had many of the other features that were important to me such as being small (I didn?t want to be just another face in the crowd I wanted somewhere where there was a real community sprit), centrally located, good food and a good bar.

Preparation

yes

Yes. The Maths and Physics departments put on a number of extra lessons (1/2 a week) in the term before the interviews. These just went through some concepts in more depth than in the normal lessons, and tried to get you thinking in more of the manor that you?d have to do at university. We also went through some of the past entry paper for physics to get an idea of the questions. My school also kept a record of people who went for interviews and the questions they were asked so you would have an idea of them. (Sadly there weren?t any example for Engineering though ? I was the first!). They also gave me a mock interview with one of the teachers who went to Oxford himself. Overall it was very helpful in preparing myself for the interviews.

The Forms: Not really. The fast majority of the form is just your personal details again. I wouldn?t feel compelled to write any thing in the extra box. I understand that a lot of people don?t. If you are going to fill it in it?s probably worth just putting in something a bit more Oxford specific than if you?re filling out the main UCAS form Here?s what I wrote if it helps: A determination to stretch myself intellectually has always been an attribute of mine. Given the way in which I work best, the tutorial system used in Oxford and the extremely academic environment of the University I feel that studying at Oxford will give me a superb opportunity to reach my full potential. The Oxford Engineering course is unusual in the way that it does not ask for a particular area of Engineering to be studied at the start of the course, opting for a much broader starting point. To me this is the ideal way to study Engineering at this level, giving the eventual graduate an inter-disciplinary approach that will prove invaluable in the modern workplace. This prospect has simply served to increase my excitement and enthusiasm at potentially studying such a course.

The interview(s): Make sure that you know your personal statement, and what you?ve said you?re interested in on that as they may well base questions on it, and have confidence that you know what you?re doing, even though you may make mistakes as your going through it. Everybody makes mistakes, especially when you?re under pressure like that, and the tutors will help you find any arithmetic or similar mistakes that you make. I think that the most important thing is just to have faith in yourself.

Interview

no

no

There was no requirement to provide written work, but you were invited to bring an example of your written work to the interview if you want (although I got the impression that that was college specific as my second college barely looked at my work, and the letter inviting me to bring it came from Lincoln). I brought my Electronics coursework from the lower sixth as I thought that out of the work I had available that it showed off my interpretation of the engineering method the best.

no

No, there aren’t any written test for Engineering 🙂 .

I had two interviews; one at Lincoln and another at Pembroke. (All Engineers at Oxford apply to one college and will then be assigned a second choice one where you have a second interview.) The one at Lincoln was first and that seemed to go OK. The one at Pembroke was a bit worse as I got stuck on one of the questions and really ran out of things to say. Of course when I got home I started going over the interviews and realised that I did practically everything wrong at least the first time through. It?s a common reaction and I think most people feel the same way. Engineering interviews are also arranged to be on only one day so there?s no need to stay in Oxford. In between mine I had time to go up to the department and have a look round there. One thing I didn?t do though was spend much time in the JCR getting to know the people there, which it might have been good to do so, especially as a lot of people remember each other from the interviews. Don?t be afraid of asking your college for accommodation if you want / need it. The interviews are also about you getting to know Oxford and ?getting the felling? as it were, and you need time to do that. Your college will almost certainly accommodate you (definitely if you need it), although space is often quite tight and so don?t stay for longer than you have to just for a holiday.

It was all academic questions, none on any other areas. At Lincoln when I arrived they gave me a form with a dozen or so different subject areas on it from which I was asked to chose two or three (although a lot of people missed the envelopes ? do check at the lodge). These gave a basis of the first few questions so they could ask you about something that you knew to some extent and then build on it from there. A good tip would be to look at the college?s website. They often have tutor profiles which show their research interests, and probably the areas you may get asked questions in. At Pembroke the interview was essentially the same, although it didn?t last as long. What really confused me was when I was asked how a train went round a corner (they had a little toy train on the desk to demonstrate). It?s not as trivial as you might think.

I wore smartish trousers with a shirt under a jumper. I didn?t own a suit, I wasn?t going to buy one, and I?m not the sort of person who goes round dressed as smartly as that ? I wouldn?t have felt comfortable. I don?t think how you dress really matters, provided that you?re presentable.

Impressions

Lincoln is a very nice and friendly college with a real community atmosphere where you get to meet and know people easily. However, it is a small college and that?s not everyone?s cup of tea and indeed the gossip can be unbearable at times. There?s also a lack of proper kitchen facilities for first year students which some people may find annoying, but I think that that?s an attribute of many Oxford colleges. Overall though the balance is much in the positive with it being a unique place to study.

The other colleges I?ve seen, although obviously not as much as Lincoln (where I?ve just finished my first year just to clarify), are fairly similar in terms of the stance and raw components that are present, but vary in terms of size and ?feel?, as well as other factors such as location. There isn?t an incredible amount separating the colleges beyond skin deep factors. Choosing between them isn?t a be all and end all situation.

Generally the accommodation for first years is quite good (better than the accommodation I?ve seen at any other university) although there is the odd pokey room. About half of the rooms are ensuite now. All of the first year accommodation is also either on the main college site or just over the road which is very convenient. Sadly the room prices are possibly slightly more than you would find elsewhere, but on par with the other colleges.

In the second and third years there is a choice of accommodation (dependent on a ballot) ranging from more hall style room in ?The Mitre? to houses in Museum Road up by the science block. ?The Mitre? isn?t exactly superb, and whoever built it certainly didn?t like having things level. To put it in context, my room next year is the one with the fire escape going through it. It is livable though and still centrally placed, although certainly not as good as the first year accommodation. The houses are due to be refurbished in the 2003/2004 academic year so should be nice and new, although exactly what they?ll be like is impossible to tell.

Lincoln does offer accommodation for all undergraduates for the duration of their course, which is useful as it eliminates the need to have to search for housing a long way from the centre like people at other colleges need to do.

Excellent

Lincoln is famed for having the best food in the university and from what I?ve sampled that?s not far wrong. Bearing in mind the amount they have to get through the quality of the food is very good indeed, and they are always experimenting with new things, but there is still a ?mass market? feel to it.

This is a bit difficult as they?re all changing next year (due to retirements and such). Generally they?re very friendly and approachable if you have any problems, and nothing to worry about in terms of the interview. They?re not going to be trying to catch you out.

Generally I suppose they?re nice people. No, really they?re great and it is easy to get to know people and meet people from different disciplines. Lincoln is known for being a bit insular, but there is plenty of opportunity to meet people from other colleges if you want to, although often little need as you?ve got as many friends as you could want close at hand.

Final stage

Erm. Not really sure what to say. I was quite pleased, and knew that I was going to accept it. I really wanted to study in Oxford.

Looking back

Definitely. It really is a wonderful place to study and it?s well worth giving the application process a chance if you can. You won?t lose anything by having a go.

Most things are probably covered in what I?ve said above. The most important thing is just to have confidence in yourself and to just give it a go.