Application

 Oxford

 Wadham

 Human Sciences

 2005

 offer made

Applicant

 A-levels

 pre-qualification

 N/A

 United Kingdom

 Comprehensive School

 yes (8 A*,2 A,1 B)

A-levels

(A at AS (282 UMS))

(A at AS (240 UMS); predicted A; gained A at A2)

(A at AS (261 UMS); predicted A; gained A at A2)

(A at AS (288 UMS); predicted A; gained A at A2)

(A at AS (281 UMS); predicted A; gained A at A2)

(A at AS (253 UMS); predicted A; gained A at A2)

Advanced Extension Awards

(predicted NA; gained Merit)

(predicted NA; gained Merit)

Details about the offer

 conditional

A in Biology

AAAB

yes

I’m studying at Wadham now, and it’s better than I expected 😀

N/A

 offer met

Decisions about the application

I liked the collegiate and tutorial systems, and Oxford is such a beautiful place! (Obviously, the kudos of potentially studying there wasn’t a factor at all…)

Only Oxford offered my course.

It covered all my favourite aspects of biology and geography, as well as offering me the chance to study some areas (sociology, psychology) I know nothing about. I also think there’s no chance of me getting bored!

Wadham had more than one HumSci per year (I didn’t want to be all alone), and the college atmosphere was very friendly, helpful and welcoming, as well as being in a good location for getting all over Oxford. It also has the best (and most per term) bops in Oxford. Sadly the food is as bad as expected, but I can live with that.

Preparation

yes

We (the Oxbridge, med, vet, and teacher training applicants) did group sessions that involved quizzing each other on why we wanted to study our course. An admissions tutor from a local teacher training college gave us a talk, and then we had mock interviews. The Rotary Club also offered to give mock interviews, but I said no – what do teh Rotary Club no about Oxbridge interviews?

Get used to answering “Why Human Sciences?” and expect to be asked about things you mention you’ve seen/done/read. Speak up for your opinions and don’t be surprised if you get asked some quite random-sounding questions!

Oh yes, do plenty of back ground reading, not just to talk about in the interview, but to help you out if you actually get a place!

Interview

no

yes

I submitted two essays, one on the impacts of tourism on the Antarctic ecosystem (a Geography project I turned into an essay so I could submit it), and a piece of AS Biology coursework on the impacts of stem cell research. I didn’t get asked anything about either piece.

no

I would say my first interview at Wadham was a lot more nerve-wracking than the second at New. The tutor and the Warden (head of the college, and a Sir) interviewed me at Wadham, and they had a bit of a good cop bad cop thing going on.
The New interview was more relaxed, between retiring Dr Boyce and the new tutor, who was probably nervous like the students! That was more of a chat, I felt.

There weren’t many pleasentries, and I don’t think they really cared about “Why Human Sciences?” The interviews tended to give you a question, and then pick apart something in your reply, or ask you to elaborate, or challenge you. Tiring, but very interesting.

Why Human Sciences? Interpret these graphs. What findings can you take from this experiment? Should 16 year olds get the vote? Tell me about the issues of an ageing population. What have you read? How much preparation did you do for this exam? (An AEA, taken a year early).

I wore a purple long sleeve shirt (and black zip-up top and black winter coat) and smart grey trousers, because Oxford was f. cold, and I always feel more prepared when I’m dressed a bit more smartly. It’s what we had to wear to Sixth Form, so it felt familiar.

Impressions

Wadham was really friendly – when I saw how well the shy third year who looked after the HumSci applicants got on, I knew Wadham must be OK. All the other applicants were friendly (I was adopted by the lawyers) and we took over the JCR all day.
New looked imposing, and but again the students were friendly, and the interview room had far more mod cons than Wadham!

I had quite a big room for my interview, looking down the street that New College is on (Holywell), which was nice. Some of the rooms I know are tiny, but they all have their advantages. The only thing I really disliked was that my staircase had no kitchen, and there seemed to be only one loo for the whole house!

Erm… breakfast and lunch were canteen style, and as such were very nice – good size portions and a nice choice. Evening meals were less nice – I hate salmon, and Wadham own a salmon farm :s

Wadham – being interviewed by the Warden wasn’t as scary as it sounds – apparently the tutor’s just gruff, and a good guy.
New’s tutors were really nice, put you at your ease and got the most out of you.

The students were laid back, happy to chat to you and help and seemed a lot of fun.

Final stage

When the people I’d met at interview started to hear on Thursday afternoon, and I hadn’t heard by Monday morning, I’d had several sniffles, certain I must have failed. I accosted the postie on the Monday morning on the way to school, desperate to hear!

I *finally* got the letter five days late (damn Christmas post!) and my parents woke me up with it. I had five minutes to compose myself while my parents held the envelope up to the light to try to work out what it said (as they told me afterwards!). When I found out I’d got an offer I jumped up and down on the bed, then came back to earth with a bump when I read my offer conditions!

Looking back

Yes, I made my offer today, I’m so, so glad – it’s been absolutely worth it.

EDIT: Now I’m actually here, even when I’m doing essays or persuading the mathematicians to help me with my stats, it’s even more worthwhile. The people here are great – it’s not a chance I’d pass up.

Commit yourself to Oxbridge and really go for it. Don’t let anyway, including teachers, put you off.