Application

 Oxford

 St Edmund Hall

 English Language and Literature

 2002

 rejected

Applicant

 A-levels

 pre-qualification

 N/A

 N/A

 Grammar School

 yes (1 A*,4 A,3 B,3 C)

A-levels

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

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

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

Other universities

yes

N/A

Who knows! Leeds, York and Durham are yet to respnd, but I’m certain that’s because I applied to Oxford. I’m considering reapplying next year because I’ve heard some people were successful the second time round, but don’t think my parents are too happy about that idea. As we speak I’m on Yale’s website, but me thinks 15,000 applicants for 1,300 places puts me at a slight disadvantage.

Decisions about the application

I think it’s the best place to study English in Europe; had a couple of friends at Oxford and my college had some very strong links with journalism, which is the profession I want to pursue.

Outstanding reputation, collegiate and tutorial system. Essentially, anyone who’s anyone on Fleet Street seems to have attended there.

Excellent journalism links. When I visited it, it seemed like a great place to study. Also the people were very friendly and welcoming.

Preparation

yes

I had some help from my English tutor at school with poetry analysis. Had one interview which really wasn’t that helpful: they just prepped us on etiquette (this didn’t seem to matter at all when I got there).

The form: I don’t think it matters too much. You should probably state specifically here who your favourtie author is. They didn’t seem to want to talk about Dickens, Austen and Dostoyevsky (all of whom I mentioned on my personal statement). Emphasise your ability and passion to think and read independently, which are apparently buzz words – but it ultimately didn’t work for me as I got rejected!). Mention the tutorial system: how it exhorts you to think originally and provides the opportunity for open discussion on contentious issues in literature.

The interview: Read some literary theory – that’s apparently what it’s al about at uni. Certainly good to read about the lecturers at the college you have applied to (when talking about literary theory I mentioned that everyone’s interpretation of a text differs and briefly said their interests in the history of the press, for example, might vary from mine because we all have different interests and have had different experiences). It is important to read widely, but try to read some poetry as well. Try to look at novels from a diverse angle: philosophically, for instance.

Interview

no

yes

A Crime and Punishment adaptation into a film script (which they were very impressed with) and a comparison of two of Wilfred Owen’s poems.

no

Had 2 interviews. The first was rather informal: 15 minute discussion with two tutors. The second was more probing: a 25 minute discussion about an unseen piece of poetry.

1st: strengths and weaknesses, how I could relate my interest in philosophy to Shakespeare and books that I had read outside the syllabus. What do you think about the paradox evident in Wilfred Owen’s poetry?, i.e. that his subject matter is bleak but he was influenced by Keats yada yada. Extra curricular activities: would I still want to continue gaining work experience placements in the media when at Oxford?

The 2nd: questions about the unseen sonnet I was given: if you knew that Douglas’ wife was suffering from cancer how would this alter your interpretation of the poem? How does the form of the poem relate to the meaning – I talked about the number of syllables and how this related to the monotonoy of the death of a loved one. How did you get your Crime and Punishment transformation to that stage? I talked a little bit about Nietsche’s Superman theory and how this related to Raskolnikoff in C and P. One of the tutors then asked me had I read any of Nietsche’s works to which I replied no (she told me to read Beyond Good and Evil which I’m doing at the moment).

A suit isn’t necessary: black shoes, rather formal trousers and a jumper with a shirt underneath.

Impressions

Very nice: palpable sense of informaility. Very frinedly and welcoming people: attractive architecture.

My room was quite small, though modern. It had a sink, a desk and 2 chairs. Great view of Oxford as I was on the 7th floor but quite cold as a result. My friend’s room at Brasenose was 3 times the size of mine, but then again their college is much wealthier.

Edible but not great

Very friendly and relaxed (though people’s experiences differed).

Cool, chilled and friendly. They offered some advice, which I had heard 100 times before but nevertheless.

Final stage

Well, I received it today and I gotta tell you I’m not feeling too good! It said they would send some feedback to my school and try to remember that competition for places at Oxford is “very competitive” (tell me something I don’t know). They wished me luck with my other applications yada yada.

Looking back

Yes. If I didn’t I would have always thought what might have been and living life with regrets like that it just not healthy.

Don’t pin your hopes too much on getting into Oxford. Looking back, I think I did and feel terrible today (having been rejected at the time of writing). If the tutors try to poke fun at you in any way, don’t let them (this happened to my friend at Brasenose). Their questions are dressed up in jargon so think rationally and analytically about them: formulate an answer in your mind before answering.