Application

 Cambridge

 Downing

 Geography

 2008

 offer made

Applicant

 A-levels

 pre-qualification

 home

 United Kingdom

 Comprehensive School

 yes (10 A*,1 A)

A-levels

(A at AS (292 UMS))

(A at AS (242 UMS))

(A at AS (284 UMS); predicted A; gained NA at A2)

(A at AS (252 UMS); predicted A; gained NA at A2)

(A at AS (242 UMS); predicted A; gained NA at A2)

PASS in Open Uni module – ‘Volcanoes, earthquakes and tsunamis’

Details about the offer

 conditional

A in Biology, A in English Language, A in Geography

yes

yes

yes

Opinions on which university courses are ‘on par’ with Oxbridge’s can be debated, so I’ll just list the other universities to which I applied.
All Geography BSc.

Durham (AAA)
Bristol (AAB)
St. Andrews (Acknowledged)
Edinburgh (BBB)

 grades pending/unknown

Decisions about the application

I knew they were the top universities in the country, and although I wasn’t very confident of getting an offer, I felt the experience would be worth it.
I absolutely adore Cambridge as a place, and when I went on a Sutton Trust visit, the staff and the buildings and facilities just confirmed my dream to be there!

I preferred the structure of the Cambridge course, and the possible modules appealed to my interests more.

As above.

Downing’s location was a big pulling point, as it’s located right next to the Geography department building. Living in for three years, and the aesthetic qualities really attracted me too.

Preparation

yes

Well, I went to a short session with an ex-professor (I think) who give me some pointers and tips. I didn’t recieve any ‘tuition’ as such though.

Just know the subject you’re applying for. Read books, magazines, journals, reports – anything you can get your hand on! Don’t let people put you off looking at certain publications – be your own judge.

For human geography/anthropology/environmental history, check out ‘Guns, germs and steel’ by Jared Diamond. Great book! 😉

Here’s a tip for Geographers – even if you are specifically a physical or human geographer, make sure you don’t discredit the other side. Maybe mention somewhere in your personal statement that you respect the importance of both practices, even if it’s not your thing. That’s if you’re applying for a pure Geography course that is. Just something to think about.

Interview

no

no

no

Since I’ve only recently applied, I think it might be best to leave out any details about the interviews until a later date.

Smart black trousers and shoes, white shirt, black skinny tie and a purple cardigan. I wanted to go fairly smart, but without donning a full suit, and I felt they might remember me as the guy wearing purple!

Impressions

Kings, St. Johns, Jesus (considered applying here) and Downing blew me away, mainly because of their looks and grandure. I was tempted to apply to Trinity Hall as well, but I decided it was too small for me.

Sidney Sussex was a nice college too, although the accommodation could be brilliant or naff depending on where you were.

I had meals at Sidney Sussex and Jesus colleges. I thought both were really good, although the Jesus area for collecting food, and probably the food itself, was much nicer.

The tutors who conducted my second interview were fantastic. I just loved how enthusiastic they were about their subject, and they were genuinely nice people who allowed you to speak at length, but still politely prompted you here and there.

I never met a single student at any college who I didn’t like. All really friendly and helpful!

Final stage

I wasn’t too nervous up until a couple of days before!

I saw the words “…pleased to inform you that…” through the transparent plastic bit on the envelope, but I didn’t want to assume anything and tore it open, and then proceeded to say “no frickin way” about 18 times. =]

Looking back

Yes, yes and yes.

Even if your grades and module scores weren’t all 90%+ (like me) and you don’t fulfill other myths you hear you need to have for Cambridge, don’t be afraid to apply! I just went for it, and it paid off!