Application

 Oxford

 Keble

 Law

 1999

 rejected

Applicant

 A-levels

 pre-qualification

 N/A

 N/A

 Grammar School

 yes (1 A*,7 A,2 B)

A-levels

(A at AS; predicted B; 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)

Other universities

N/A

Decisions about the application

Having always been told I am fairly capable academically and should aim high, it seemed the natural choice. I will also admit to being swayed by the myth and kudos of having an Oxford degree.

People I spoke to that went to Cambridge had a few horror stories to tell, while Oxford people had nicer things to say. I also preferred the city of Oxford.

Directed towards it by teachers since it claims to be sympathetic to state school applicants.

Preparation

yes

I had guidance and advice from a teacher who went to Cambridge, but no actual extra tuition.

Interview

no

no

yes

Yes, a one hour paper. Surprisingly it was a multiple choice paper rather like an English comprehension, but with legal subject matter. We were not told until we started the test what it was going to be about, so it was hard to prepare. During that week I had just familiarised myself with any legal stories which had been in the news recently to show I was aware of what’s going on.

Stayed in college for 3 days and an extra night, attended a written test and two 20-minute interviews. I got to meet lots of other candidates, most of whom were very nice people.

First Interview: Began with a few very short questions about ambitions I’d written about in the personal statement, then on to questions on a legal document that had been given to me several hours earlier. Very tough, I didn’t get all the answers. People say that doesn’t matter, that it’s about arguing your point. But I was so nervous I don’t think I even did that well! Second Interview: Much better than the first. Was posed moral/ethical situations and asked what I feel the law should be in these examples. No previous knowledge was needed, just opinion and once again ability to argue my point.

A suit

Impressions

Keble was a very nice and friendly college. But I applied there thinking there would be loads of other state school applicants, and there simply wasn’t. I was in the minority and felt a little insecure. I also felt a little under-qualified, the people I spoke to had got most of their GCSEs at A* grade.

Accommodation was of very good standard, en-suite, nicely furnished, perhaps a little small.

Awful

Food was truly bad, and dining was a terrifying experience seeing it was like being in a cathedral. I’m told it is one of the most lavish dining halls in the uni. The Eton boys were at home, but it was just another class difference thing for me!

Tutors were very friendly. One Prof was a truly typical Oxford don, and I won’t forget my interview with him (he was blind and although a little disconcerting at first, this was an amazing interview experience).

A mixed bunch. Most were friendly, full of advice and very reassuring – they also put up with answering loads of questions about the course. Others were more aloof and didn’t say very much.

Final stage

Being honest, i was devastated to get the letter saying I didn’t get in. I knew it was coming, a friend I know at Keble said that unofficially they phone you at home the next day if you got in, otherwise you receive a letter about a week later. I’d wanted to be part of that elite so much I convinced myself I wouldn’t go anywhere else (a shallow reason – I know!).

Looking back

Of course I would reapply, there is no doubt that despite their peculiar idosyncrasies, Oxbridge represents the pinnacle of university education. I think I’d think more carefully about college choice, and I’d have probably re-written my personal statement though!

As procedure varies from college to college, it is hard to say. But for my interviews, apart from being aware of my subjects relavence to society and any topical issues of late, there really was no way of preparing for anything they asked me in the end!

Be realistic from the outset, choose your college carefully (the Alternative Oxford Prospectus is very good for finding out which ones are the richest/poorest, which ones are Etonian hangouts, which ones have a higher intake of state school etc.) and make the most of your interview, it’ll be terrifying, thrilling, challenging, and a real eye-opener.