Application

 Oxford

 Lady Margaret Hall (open application, allocated college)

 Human Sciences

 2000

 offer made

Applicant

 A-levels

 post-qualification

 N/A

 N/A

 Independent – selective

 yes (6 A*,3 A,1 B)

A-levels

(A at AS)

(A at AS)

(A at AS)

Details about the offer

 conditional

yes

N/A

 offer met

Decisions about the application

Wanted a first-class education that would be respected the world over. Wanted to meet others who had a genuine love of learning for the sake of learning and finding out as much as possible about the world as it is today – and how it came to be that way. For the individual attention the tutorial system offers. The opportunities for one-on-one interactions with tutors who were experts in their fields. The college system – mixing with others studying all different kinds of subjects. Also for the subject – not many universities offer it. Not to mention the oak-pannelled bedrooms and ensuite bathrooms!

Oxford-only course

First off, not all colleges offered my subject. I looked round the college and liked it very much. I initially decided to look at it because of its history as the first women’s college (I went to one’s of England’s most prestigious girls’ schools and had found I liked being in an environment with such associations) I liked its slightly out-of-town location and huge gardens. In terms of number of students, it was not too big and not too small. I knew I did NOT want one of the very old traditional colleges such (e.g. Christ Church). I wasn’t keen on the very modern ones either (e.g. St. Catherine’s)

Preparation

yes

My teachers helped me select work to send off. All sixth-formers were given a mock interview, regardless of where they were applying. Teachers were also very helpful with UCAS personal statement. My biology teacher arranged to meet with me a couple of times to discuss a book I had been reading in preparation for my interview (“The Selfish Gene” by Richard Dawkins)

Remember, they’re not interested in what you know but in how you think and how you process new information. So you don’t need to worry about mugging up lots of facts. Try to keep a clear head. Don’t panic if you’re asked a question that you have no idea of the answer to. It is said that an Oxbridge interview does not truly begin until the interviewer finds such a question.

Interview

no

yes

I had to submit two essays. The first one I had written for a competition run by the Institute of Biology and won first prize for. It was entitled, “To Clone Or Not To Clone.” The second one, I had written for the optional module of my biology A-level. (The module was on microorganisms and biotech and the essay discussed the possibility of antibiotic resistance and its implications to society).

no

Went to stay up in Oxford for four days. Stayed at the college and was looked after by two very friendly and helpful girls who were currently studying my course. Was interviewed separately by two different tutors, both male. Some people were sent to other colleges for additional interviews.

What did I think of LMH (Lady Margaret Hall)? What were my expectations about the course? Why had I applied for psychology at other universities? (very few places offer human sciences – none of them as high-brow as Oxford)Why human sciences? Difference between an art and a science? What makes psychology a science? Some quite detailed questions about a research project I did as part of my biology A-level (that I had mentioned on my UCAS form) We talked about what makes a study scientific. We discussed a book I had read recently (“The Nurture Assumption” by Judith Rich Harris) and he asked he how I would test some of the authors theories scientifically. Talked about limitations of human knowledge. Was asked how one could test children for ADD? How valid would the test I devised be? Then finally, did I have any questions? To be honest, I don’t remember much of my second interview. It was all about societies – what makes a society? How would you define a group? Differences between English and American societies (I was actually living in America at the time and flew over for my interview)? Historical basis? How do differences in different societies evolve? We concluded that physical distance is an important factor and he asked me how I thought this might change in the future (i.e. with internet communications and so forth). Does evolution still take place in human societies? How would you measure this? Is this is a good thing or a bad thing? Talked about the evolutionary theory of mate choice.

I wore a patchwork skirt to just above the knee. Under that I wore dark tights (it was December, after all) and my usual black ankle boots, specially polished for the occasion. On top I wore a plain with long-sleeved T-shirt with a tiny little black-velvet cat motif on the front. I had worn it for my driving test and was convinced the black cat would bring me luck! Over that I wore a black velvet jacket. (I had toyed with the idea of wearing a plain black velvet skirt with this outfit, but concluded that I would stand-out more in the patchwork and perhaps show some of the eccentric qualities that Oxbridge professors are said to be so fond of! – patchwork suits my character better anyway)

Impressions

I really like LMH! It had gorgeous grounds and the people are mostly pretty down-to-earth and friendly. I also find it’s nice to be out-of-but-not-too-far-from the town centre. Plus I can keep my car here.

LMH has very nice, very spacious rooms. Some of the modern ones even have en suite bathrooms. I personally don’t have an en suite bathroom but if you want an oak-pannelled room though, you’d better apply to Christ Church.

Edible but not great
Really not that bad actually. You get used to it after a while.

Actually very nice and normal-seeming. Certainly not scary.

A bit mix really – a lot of bubbly and extrovert types though. Take their work a lot less seriously than I expected them to.

Final stage

I immediately burst into tears – anyone who’d be observing could have been forgiven for thinking that I HADN’T got a place!

Looking back

Actually no, I wouldn’t, but that’s another story entirely…….

As I said before, it’s not about what you know, it’s about how you act when you DON’T know.