Application

 Oxford

 Mansfield

 English Language and Literature

 2005

 offer made

Applicant

 A-levels

 pre-qualification

 home

 United Kingdom

 FE College

 yes (6 A*,2 A,3 B)

A-levels

(D at AS)

(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)

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

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

I was under the impression i was studying ‘philosophy and religion’ right up until the actual exam, when i found out i was actually gonna have an A level in ‘religious studies’ – i panicked thinking it looked like a bit of a doss! But it hasn’t let me down and has actually proved qutie useful in some aspects of my english course!

I did terribly in critical thinking because we only had two classes on it throughout the whole year, no one took it seriously!

Details about the offer

 conditional

A in English Literature

AAA, Had to get three As including one in English.

yes

N/A

 offer met

Decisions about the application

Oxford and Cambridge are just so revered and respected, I thought I might as well have a go at applying, especially when my teachers encouraged a small group of us saying we were getting decent grades.

I got the impression that Oxford would be more appropriate for studying English, with the Bodleian library and the OED and everything, and heard that Cambridge was a bit more science-y. Decision was also based on reading the prospectuses and seeing which looked nicer!

Because i love it so much i knew i could not only cope with studying it for three years, it would be a pleasure to do!

Several reasons: a teacher at my college had a son that went to Mansfield and she reccomended it; i read that it took a high number of state educated applicants; i read it was very small and quite poor (!) so didn’t think i’d feel intimidated; and i read that it had the best food in the university, which was happily true!

Preparation

yes

I had several practice interviews with Oxbridge experts, and there was a trip to see both Oxford and Cambridge, which although I didn’t go was apparently very useful and fun! My English teacher was also massively helpful in terms of helping me with my personal statement.

I think a good personal statement is CRUCIAL, i went through about twenty drafts! If any practice interviews are made available, i would reccomend having as many as you can, although my actual interview was very different and, as it turned out, much easier than i was expecting!

Interview

no

yes

Had to submit about three essays.

no

I think i got off quite lightly compared to some people: i only had one interview and it was really friendly and relaxed. I found myself quite enjoying it before i realised “oh my god this is your oxford interview, don’t get too relaxed!”

I was given a poem and had to talk about it, which i thought went quite badly but must have been okay, and then the interview was based around my personal statement, so thank GOD i’d read through it again just before i went in!

They asked me questions regarding things i’d written for my personal statement, such as “it’s interesting that you describe the Romantic movement as ‘elitist’…” and i had to elaborate.

Everyone was panicking about what to wear, and i got so flustered i started trying to find something smart. But then it was so cold and rainy i just wore a long skirt, plain top, tights, boots and my coat! What you wear is NOT important; my tutors told me that one year, a lad sauntered in wearing a flash suit, did a twirl and said “do you like my suit?” they were horrified, and he didn’t get a place!

Impressions

i thought Mansfield was beautiful, as i still do, and it was nowhere near as imposing as other colleges like christchurch, so i felt quite comfortable!

i had a room in the slightly grim 80s E-block, so for the first few hours i felt a bit miserable! but now it has been re-painted and done up and people who live there are quite happy, especially because they are the only people near any kitchens!

most first years are now accomodated in the brand new garden building, which is modern, bright, airy and all en-suite. E block is also en-suite and most remaining first years are accomodated there.

some first years live in the older building with the third years, where the rooms have more character; they vary in size and some have sloping ceilings and better views etc, but they have shared bathroom facilities. i haven’t heard anyone complain about this though!

there are three meals a day provided in hall, which is a really nice social environment, and the food is usually really nice, with at least three options including creative veggie stuff, and it’s all reasonably priced, between about Ł1.65 and Ł3.00. mansfield has a ‘pay as you go’ system where you only pay on your bod (university) card only for what you want, so you do have the option of going out for meals or cooking for yourself if you want to. twice a week there are formal halls where you can be waited on with tablecloths and candles and enjoy a three course meal for only a fiver!

my tutors are lovely, always friendly and really helpful if you’re stuck, and always offer us tea and biscuits in tutorials – this makes my non-english friends jealous!

at interview i was a bit daunted by some really loud massively confident people who went round asking how your interview was, and asking hwat you had read, and whether you’d written anything for a magazine or something. One lad started reciting some dire poetry he’d written and i was so intimidated! but i’ve never seen him since, and everyone on the english course is really nice and we all get on very well, as i do with most people in my year!

Final stage

i went through various mind-changes such as “oh i really don’t want to go to oxford, it was too scary” and “oooohhh i really hope i did well, it was such a nice environment!” it was quite a tense wait. i kind of made my mind up that i probably wouldn’t have a place.

my mum rang my when i was in college saying “you’ve got a letter with the mansfield logo on it!” i was like “open it!” and she said “no no i can’t, you’ll have to do it!” as soon as i got home she handed it to me, and i remember thinking “hmmm it’s quite thick… would they send me much information if i hadn’t got in???” i couldn’t believe it when it said i had a place, i rang up all my friends and was jumping all over the place!

Looking back

yes, even just for the experience, and doubly yes because it was well worth taking the chance!

in my experience, the waiting for and thinking about the interview was much more stressful than the actual half hour itself. i think you should try and see the interview as a chance to have a chat about a subject you love with experts, and just be yourself because they’re looking at your personality as much as your intellect i think.