Application

 Oxford

 Worcester (open application, allocated college)

 Geography

 2003

 offer made

Applicant

 A-levels

 pre-qualification

 home

 United Kingdom

 Independent – selective

 yes (1 A*,4 A,1 B,1 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)

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

Details about the offer

 conditional

A in Geography

AAA

yes

yes

yes

Oxford first choice, unsure about second choice, though it will probably be LSE

 grades pending/unknown

Decisions about the application

The Oxford course was one of the only ones n the country that allowed you to follow an equal balance of human and physical geography, which is quite important to me. Also the fact that I knew that I would be pushed academically, and the unique tutorial system. The collegiate system was very appealing, and the beauty of the place as a whole.

I visited Oxford on an open day, was beautiful. Didn’t visit Cambirdge. I also got the impression that Cambridge really wanted you to have a science if you wanted to do geography, whereas Oxford didn’t.

I thought it was the most beautiful colege that offered geography. It’s got a lake, food is really cheap and its the only college with its sports fields on site, which was a major plus factor for me, as I play a lot of sports.

Preparation

yes

School took me to open day. I had one general inerview with the headmaster, no real practice interview though. Also a couple of informal chats with staff members when I happened to walk past them in the corridor.

The Oxbridge application form: Express your enthusiasm and motivation for your subjects and don’t be afraid to express your strenghts. Make it academically orientated until at least half the way through, rather than one paragraph on why you want to do the subject and then go straight on to extra-curricular stuff. On the Oxford form, write a couple of lines on why you want to do the Oxford course /+ why you want to do it at Oxford. Remember, if you love your subject, your half-way towards getting an offer.
The interview: As I said before, if you love your subject then you have a great chance. ENJOY the interview, treat it as a discussion, not a question and answer session. Know your syllabus and make sure you’re paying attention to current geographical affairs.

Interview

no

yes

Two essays ; one on burglary, one on hurricanes. They weren’t amazing (both got 20/25) but I chose them because I felt I would feel comfortable discussing them in interview.

no

I had two interviews at Worcester. One was 20 minutes with one person and the other was 30 minutes with two people.
The tutors were really friendly, made you feel welcome and you felt like they actually wanted to talk to you, rather than doing the interviews as a matter of routine procedure.

Human- I was to describe the area in which I live, and then how I would improve it. We also discussed population, resources, transnational companies, inner city issues, one or two other things as well which I can’t remember know. Physical- I was given two articles before this interview, and I chose the human geography article which was on the census. I had to give a summary on the article, and we discussed topics on it for about ten minutes. We then discussed hurricanes, drainage basin hydrology, LEDC defences against natural hazards, Malthusian theory and its modern day relation to and in the context of Esther Boserup, fieldwork. Was asked other questions which seemed random. ” If you and two other people were to measure the discharge in different parts of a river without any high-tech equipment, how would you do it? ” I think I answered it right. I said you could stand them a certain number of footsteps apart, then chuck a stone into the river. Time how long it would take to go from one person to the other and repeat at various intervals. Would only give relative velocities though. I was also asked questions on the current AIDs issues. Really thorough interview and I really enjoyed it.

I wore a suit. My school uniform is a suit as well so I didn’t feel uncomfortable. Hardly anyone else wore a suit though. If you want to wear a suit, then it won’t harm your chances. If you don’t want to wear a suit, then as long as you don’t look scruffy you should be fine.

Impressions

Worcester was a beautiful college. Fantastic gardens and a lake, buildings were also very nice. I had a great room in the ‘goldfish bowl’. The students there were fantastic, very friendly. The JCR was a bit bland, they only had a TV in there but it had a nice feel to it. They also have a pool table and table tennis table in some other rooms. Worcester isn’t in the centre of town so it was quite peaceful.
I stayed at Exeter on open day which was an AMAZING college in my opinion, but they don’t do geography :-(.
I also visited Keble , which was FANTASTIC as well. I was going to apply there until a last minute change of heart. I’ve met Keble’s geography tutors and I have to say the were wonderful, really nice people.

My room was quite big. It had 3 big armchairs, a coffee table, a desk, a bed, a sink, a wardrobe and a chest of drawers. It had big windows. There was also an electric heater which I could not have survived without on those freezing cold days!

Good

Lord Sainsbury actually went to Worcester college, so food costs are subsidised at Worcester.

The tutors were great. They were very welcoming and they were very friendly in the interviews in that they were always smiling and we shared a few jokes along the line!

There were three geography students who stayed behind to help us. The first year student was superb. He helped me settle in, showed me to my room/around the college and he also took all the geography applicants (16) to the geography department to show us around. The JCR president was very funny, he gave a speech in the common room during which everyone was laughing and the other students were allveery helpful.

Final stage

I was very nervous, initially. When I got the envelope, I literally tore it open, then picked it up and just dropped it out of sheer nerves. I picked it up again, but didn’t read it, I just scanned it quickly with my eyes looking for successful/unsuccessful when my eyes landed on “AAA”. I was delighted!

Looking back

Yes, but in a different manner definitely. I found I was stressing out too much over it, spent loads of time on my personal statements and was thinking about the interview for ages, and my school work was affeced as a result. I would do it again, but place less pressure on myself.

If you love your subject , go for it!
Just a word of advice on college selection. IF you have a certain reason why you would like to choose a certain type of college (e.g. location, accomodation, sports facilities etc) then you should choose your college carefully. If you are looking to make a tactical choice, i.e want to apply to where the least number of people have applied to, then choose an open application. However, I warn you, I don’t think that it is of much benefit. If you’re good enough but apply to an oversubscribed college, then have confidence in the fact that you will be placed in another college.