Application

 Oxford

 St Catherine’s

 Human Sciences

 2009

 offer made

Applicant

 A-levels

 pre-qualification

 home

 United Kingdom

 FE College

 yes (9 A*,2 A)

A-levels

(B at AS)

(A at AS)

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

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

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

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

I also completed the Extended Project qualification (A*)

Details about the offer

 conditional

AAA

yes

no

 grades pending/unknown

Decisions about the application

Oxbridge brings fantastic opportunities if you can get in. You get to study under professors who are taking part in the latest research, the quality of the degree itself is so much higher, the facilities are better. An Oxbridge degree opens so many doors that I should find it easier than other graduates to get a job after uni.

Oxford was the only one to offer my course.

At college my favourite subjects are biology and psychology. I wanted to take both further, and Human Sciences was the perfect course to do so. This course will also introduce me to new areas such as anthropology and demography which will leave me able to enter a broad number or careers.

I like the modern design of St Catherines, and the fact that is guarantees accomodation on site for all three years. The accomodation has better facilities than many other colleges, and is also large so I will have the opportunity to meet a lot of people. St Catherines also had the largest number of places for Human Sciences.

Preparation

yes

I was given a mock interview at college shortly after finding out I had an interview at Oxford. To be honest though, the difference between the mock and the real thing was so great that I think the only help the mock gave was confidence boosting. I was also given the opportunity to attend an Oxbridge conference in London, and a representative from Oxford came to talk about Oxbridge at college.

Definately try to attend one of the many Oxbridge conferences which are held around the country; they have really useful talks about all aspects of the interview, personal statement advice, subject talks etc.

I would also recommend reading around your subject as much as possible in the lead up to interview if you are lucky enough to get one; dropping in things you’ve read shows the kind of passion and interest interviewers look for, and you might be asked directly about what you’ve read (like I was).

Interview

no

no

no

My first interview felt quite relaxed and informal in comparison to how I’d imagined it! The two women interviewing me were both very friendly and encouraging. I made some pretty horrendous mistakes, but even so I came out of the interview satisfied with my performance. Apart from one question about my Extended Project, the interview seemed to be about determining how I think (which is what they emphasise they’re looking for), as I was presented with material I hadn’t seen before and had to answer a string of questions that didn’t seem linked to my course.

My second interview was quite different. The man interviewing me was much less friendly and made it obvious when he was trying to stretch or push me. The interview itself was more academic, but I felt it went better than the first interview.

I wore smart black/grey trousers and a jumper because I thought a smart appearance would be preferable, and it made me feel more comfortable to be wearing clothes that symbolised me taking the whole process seriously.

Generally though, the dress code varied. One girl stood out wearing jeans when the rest were wearing skirts or plain trousers, but I think the majority were dressed slightly more informally than me. The guys wore trousers and shirts or polos, although there were more wearing jeans than I had expected.

Impressions

I loved St Catherines when I actually got to stay there for two nights; the room I had was quite large, the students there were friendly and the atmosphere in the JCR was always pleasant with applicants chatting and student helpers making time to talk to everyone. The food was good, the staff were really helpful when there was a problem with the lock for the door to my room. I couldn’t really fault it.

I visited St.Johns college for my second interview, and I didn’t like it. From the outside it looked like a mansion and on the inside it felt like walking around a museum. Also the JCR was smaller and all the sofas were facing a huge TV like the only activity in there was watching the big screen. I preferred the more relaxed, friendly atmosphere at Catz where people talked to each other more!

I also briefly saw Wadham when I escorted a friend to her interview. Again the JCR was small, but the student helpers there were really kind and went out of their way to entertain me while I was waiting.

My room was quite large. The door opens to a little corridor with hanging space for clothes and a wash basin. There is a door off that that leads into the main room. This had a very small bed against a wall of cubby holes (this bed was so small it was hard to roll over without ending up on the floor but never mind), and several paces away there was a desk, table, armchair and computer chair against the glass wall. I loved it.

The floor I was on had a bank of shower cubicles (two between six of us I think) as well as two toilets and some sinks. Opposite there was a proper bathroom with a bath.

Applicants had to wear name badges to meals, and they were then free to take what they wanted at the dining hall at the set meal times. The food was always delicious and there was so much choice.

The tutors I met were both really friendly and welcoming. I instantly felt at ease in their company.

The college students were quite outgoing, and made the effort to go around the JCR calming nervous applicants and making people cups of tea. They seemed really kind and genuinely happy to help with any task, even taking you across town to another college for your next interview.

Final stage

This period of time took so long to pass. Inevitably I kept reliving my interviews, trying to analyse the tutors faces etc. I guess I was just really nervous.

My Mum woke me up as requested to tell me the letter had arrived. She also told me it was a rejection because it was so thin, so not to get too upset. It was pretty thin when I got it so I agreed with her, but then I tore it open and saw the words ‘We are delighted to…’. Next thing I know, I’m crying, Mums crying, we’re making so much noise my brother is woken up…if you could bottle that feeling you would be rich.

Looking back

Definately. Even if I hadn’t gotten in, it was worth it just to go to interview.

– DO NOT LET BAD GRADES PUT YOU OFF! I got average AS grades and my teachers told me not to bother applying. If I had listened to them I wouldn’t be where I am now.