Application

 Oxford

 Trinity

 English Language and Literature

 1999 (deferred entry)

 offer made

Applicant

 A-levels

 pre-qualification

 N/A

 N/A

 Comprehensive School

 yes (9 A*)

A-levels

(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)

Details about the offer

 conditional

A in English Literature

AAB

yes

Studying at Trinity College, Oxford.

N/A

 offer met

Decisions about the application

Reputation and the appeal of being in a college rather than an impersonal and large university, so even though I was prepared to be rejected, I thought I may as well have a go.

Oxford has a slightly better reputation for English, and is closer to home … handy for laundry!

Very friendly, with beautiful grounds (in which you are allowed to walk on the lawns!). It also provides accommodation for all 3 years.

Preparation

yes

Two mock interviews with teachers from other schools, as well as several talks targeted at Oxbridge candidates, but we certainly weren’t ‘coached’ to give specific answers. We did, however, attend extra classes to explore key texts that weren’t on the A Level syllabus.

The form: Tell the truth … you will be caught out in interview if you don’t!

The interview: It is essential to have read around the syllabus – the tutors are looking for someone with a genuine interest, not someone who has been well coached or is afraid of thinking for themselves.

Interview

no

yes

Two essays.

no

First interview with two tutors, the second with one tutor. I stayed for one night (some people stayed for two) and some of us arranged a mini party which was fun! I didn’t know anyone else applying, but still managed to relax and enjoy it a bit.

One interview involved commenting on an unseen Shakespeare passage, and analysing some sentences for their grammar. Neither interview talked about my personal statement at all, and also (rather unusually) didn’t refer to the essays I submitted. The main interview (with two tutors) asked me to talk about Victorian novels I had read which were not on the A Level syllabus. I felt I was struggling slightly because I was worried about making wild statements which I couldn’t support, so was probably too reserved in consequence.

Smart trousers and a top that wasn’t too low cut!

Impressions

Trinity is excellent for many subjects, but especially for English. I was struck by the friendly atmosphere – it really is a place where your background does not matter in the slightest. Most of my close friends here come from state schools but I don’t even know what kinds of school most people come from because it really isn’t an issue.

They vary … 3rd year accommodation is in flats about 10 mins away, and the 2nd years inevitably choose the best rooms in college so the 1st year rooms are a gamble! It is very unlikely that you will be sharing unless you choose to share a ‘set’ (two separate bedrooms and shared living room). Bathroom situation could do with improving … Great library and librarian, as well as gym, squash court, sports ground and the famous lawns.

Good

For some reason, food is worse at interview than at any other time. In termtime, three very good courses in the evening are served by waiters and this only costs about Ł2. Self catering at lunchtime and breakfast.

They are experts in their fields, which can be a bit daunting. They are always on your side, however, and want to see you at your best, even at interview. The English tutors expect you to try your best, but can always be turned to if there are any problems.

Very friendly and helpful. There is a wide range of people (and even abilities) and although it is a small college you will always find people with similar interests.

Final stage

Probably jumped for joy … then accepted … then came down to earth with a bump when the reading list arrived.

Looking back

Definitely … and if I hadn’t got in, I would have reapplied the next year to a different Oxford college. I didn’t feel my interviews went brilliantly, but the tutors were still friendly and encouraging and helped me out if they felt I was struggling.

It is hard to get in, but not impossible and rejection doesn’t mean that you are a failure! Sometimes colleges make mistakes, and sometimes they simply know that the college is not right for you or vice versa. If you never try, you’ll never know!