Application

 Oxford

 Mansfield

 Geography

 2001

 offer made

Applicant

 A-levels

 pre-qualification

 N/A

 N/A

 Comprehensive School

 yes (7 A*,3 A)

A-levels

(A at AS; predicted A; gained B 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)

Details about the offer

 conditional

AAB

yes

I went up to Mansfield College in October 2002 and am now about to start my final year.

N/A

 offer met

Decisions about the application

First and formost, I knew I had a chance of getting in – it’s always worth a try. Secondly, I wanted to prove a point – I’m from a single parent family on a council estate, and wanted to show everyone that your background is not a problem when applying to University. And the course looked wide and interesting, with lots if options.

The Geography course at Oxford was wide and interesting, and I felt that, as neither myself nor my parents drive, it would be easier to get to Oxford by public transport.

I visited on an open day. It was friendly, open and small, and it had excellent accomodation. Also they took a large proportion of geographers – I didn’t fancy being one of just two doing my subject in a college.

Preparation

no

The form: Be honest. Be concise. Be perfect in your spelling, punctuation and grammar. Be passionate about your subject and tryto prove that you have the academic potential to succeed.

The interview: Love your subject. If you want to read Geography you MUST be passionate about the world around you. Be able to talk about where you have travelled or would like to. Be able to say why. Have some idea of which facets of the subject interest you most. Read the papers every day and be prepared to be asked about current world events ( a famine, maybe, or a freak climatological event). Most of all, make it clear in your own mind that you really want to be there.

Interview

no

yes

I submitted some of my best essays – from both my Geography and History A Level work. I chose them to prove that I could write well and concisely, and that I had the ability to read and learn independently.

no

I was invited to stay up at Mansfield for a few days, and was interviewed twice, by the tutors for Geography. The rest of the time was spent getting to know fellow interviewees and living a fairly normal college life – sitting in the JCR, reading the papers and chatting. And also putting the finishing touches to my General Studies coursework…

A few specific ones to geography – why it interests me, and what specific areas, where in the world I’d travelled and what my ambitions were for studying. A couple of stingers – in how many years will a population double in size etc. And mostly questions to test whether you can think aloud and quickly,and a few about my hobbies and interests, to see whether you are just a ‘brainbox’ or whether you will give something to your college, be it sport, politics or just a fantastic personality.

I didn’t posess a suit, and still don’t. I wore a black pencil skirt which I chose because it was the only non-jeans option I had, and a smart (but very warm – it was December!) polo neck jumper and black leather boots. Both people who interviewed me saw me at other times during the week in jeans and trainers, and they weren’t put off!

Impressions

Mansfield is beautiful! Compared to many other Oxford colleges it is small, and close knit. It also escapes the hellish guided tour groups which invade other colleges every hour during daylight thoughout Trinity term.

Two kinds of accomodation – older big ‘sets’ of rooms with a bedroom and sitting/working area. Cold. Shared loo and bathroom with three others. Also small and quite modern en-suite rooms.

Excellent

Mansfield has excellent food. It’s cheap, it’s varied and it’s healthy. Not sure how good it is for vegetarians. Huge ‘rugby player’ portions though… Unless you happen to be a rugby player or have a super-fast metoabolism you WILL put on weight!

Friendly. Chatty. Always happy to help, although one has completely illegible handwriting so that’s not great when you want to read comments on a essay!

Generally fine. I think Mansfield has a higher than usual number of state school students. And no-one cares what you are – gay, straight, male, female, black, white – everyone is equal as long as you’re friendly and you muck in – it’s a very small community.

Final stage

I screamed! Rang my mother, who also screamed. And then my Geography tutor at school announced it to the whole place! Then went to the pub to celebrate.

Looking back

Yes! It’s hard and stressful, but getting that letter was the best feeling in the world.

Be confident. Love your subject. Read the papers every day. Get some interesting hobbies to talk about. Don’t spend money on a suit – it doesn’t matter as long as you look presentable. Smile!