Application

 Oxford

 Magdalen

 English Language and Literature

 1999

 rejected

Applicant

 A-levels

 pre-qualification

 N/A

 N/A

 Comprehensive School

 yes (3 A*,4 A,2 B)

A-levels

(A at AS)

(A at AS)

(A at AS)

Other universities

yes

yes

I wanna to go to York. Its got a nicer english course (says me) than Oxford and the students there said it was “better” for english – which is probably bollocks, but with any luck I’ll be prop

Decisions about the application

Wanted to go there – prestige et al, seemed an eclectic, alive sort of place – only uni I visited before applying and my teacher put a bit of pressure on. I had got 100% in an english module that summer so I thought I’d be good enough.

Originally it was all Cambridge, but my school claimed to have some sort of decent record at getting people in to Oxford so I gradually changed my mind. Went to Target Schools Day and really liked it. I never saw Cambridge at all except ages ago when I was younger. The nature of the course didn’t come into it.

I visited on the Target Schools day and was shown around Magdalen students and was basically brainwashed by them – one of them was phwooarrgeous IIRC.

Preparation

yes

A little – one mock interview which wasn’t really very good preparation because there wasn’t an english teacher there. That said the school invested ages of time on 11 or so pupils and I didn’t really ask for any help from the english department

The form: They told me to fill in the special why I want to go to Oxford bit of the form. I didn’t bother, but I don’t think it made any difference – I got an interview

The interview: Please, please, please make sure you are good at oral prat. crit. At my school the level of discussion in classes is hardly The Late Review. So I wasn’t really prepared in this way. So make sure you are, badger your english teachers to help you get better, in case you really good anyway, in which case fuck off. Erm, don’t put too many lies on your UCAS form I suppose. Choose the college carefully, I may have said Magdalen apps must have been shite but thats bollocks. Apparently (this is hearsay) people at Westminster were told to give Mag. a wide berth because its a bitch to get into. If you’re not confident, don’t apply to a popular one. Be confident, unlike my shy and modest self, and try not to be intimidated. Don’t spout shite out without thinking in the interview. Bascially, read the above section, learn it, and do everything I didn’t do.

Interview

no

yes

Yes. One essay on Othello, one on Ted Hughes. On had been given 10/10 and the other 9/10 from teachers. Available on request. They were described as “of a generally reasonable standard” or something, which suggests that my teachers can’t mark.

no

I died. It was an joke from start to finish, everyone I told about it afterwards was either overly sympathetic or laughed (the cunts). I got there and the poems were waiting, I had an hour to prepare and read them and make notes and do what you do with unseen poems. There were three sonnets and one peice of prose, all about spiders. One was Robert Frost, I forget the rest. After I decided an hour was up I decided to walk into the room where the interview was. Bad idea – “wait till you’re called”. Early Fuckup sets the tone. When I was called they were okay about it. They first asked me about something on my personal statement – a play I’d go devised and “starred in” based on a Charles Baudelaire poem. I could hardly remember the name of the poem or how it went. I stammered out some crap. I might add now that despite my best efforts not to get pissed I only had two hours of sleep before hand followed by two cans of stimulants. I was in a state. Anyway, then they said we’d get started on the poems and prose. We went through them, me saying what I could, they probed and there were VERY LONG silences. In short a disaster. I might also add that this sort of aural criticism is not something I was used to – unseen poetry used to be my bete noir or whatever. I didn’t read my poetry. Thats all rectified now but a little too late. I spent much of the time looking baffled or looking for spiders on the ceiling. Everytime I said something they asked me to expand or said “yes… but more literally what does it mean.” What I had thought previously to be incisive commentary (on the poems/prose) was in fact simply bleeding obvious. Eventually, after a painful 25 or so minutes they basically said “we’ve heard enough” and I went. That was it. I went and got pissed – my life was over etc etc.

I waited around for another interview but eventually got bored and went home – before I was sure that I didn’t have an interview at another college, so I might have missed one – I didn’t care, I couldn’t have done another interview in any case. I received the rejection about 10 days later – Merry fucking Christmas etc. Got some feedback from the college. I was, they thought, “limited by nervousness” or something – quelle suprise. I apparently ended up “well within the top hald of candidates” which begs the question of what breed of gormless idiot applies to that college (see next question). I don’t feel I did myself “justice” at all. Whether I am good enough for Magdalen (8:1 apps to place ratio this time around) I don’t know, but I’m sure as hell better than I made out in my interview. I lost all confidence in my abilities after Oxford and fucked up my english mock. Since then I’ve got a tutor (to build it up again) and I’m now confident again and better than ever at english – especially poetry.

Impressions

The unisex bathroom had me thrown for a minute. Top banana for perverts though. First years are stuck in a concrete thing with a crest on it. Nice. Big rooms though about 3 times the size of my sister’s at Cardiff.

Edible but not great

The ones that interviewed me were really nice, really nice about my failure that is. And the rest. I crashed PPE drinks and they seemed reasonable too – although I remember little.

Some were geeky, some were wierd, one or two were joyous (Aye!)

Looking back

If I was reliving that part of my life theres a hell of a lot of things I’d do different. Applying would not be one of them, although I’d have chosen an “easier” college and done loads of preparation, maybe enlisted my tutor before-hand

Focus. Don’t let other things intrude on what you’re there for. Prepare and choose your college carefully – read those ratios baby.