Application

 Oxford

 Oriel

 History (Modern)

 2007

 offer made

Applicant

 A-levels

 pre-qualification

 home

 United Kingdom

 FE College

Attended a non-selective independent school up to GCSE.

 yes (10 A*)

A-levels

(B at AS)

(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)

Details about the offer

 conditional

AAA, Not including General Studies.

undecided yet

I will do when my final choice has come through on UCAS.

N/A

Decisions about the application

I wanted to go to one of the best universities in the world. Other reasons included: good GCSE grades, the sense of tradition and the college system.

I had visited Oxford once before as a child and liked the city, and had heard negative comments about the atmosphere of Cambridge as a city i.e. that is was too university-centric.

History is what I’ve always wanted to do – if you’re doing to give over at least 3 years of your life to studying it, there can be no room for doubt.

It provided accommodation for all 3 years, was well located, a good size, pretty, a good mix of old and new in terms of traditions and I had a good time at the Open Day.

Preparation

no

Interview

yes

HAT – it didn’t go as well as I had hoped.
Having sneaked a look at my feedback letter, I now know that my score was “not outstanding”, so applicants shouldn’t necessarily feel disheartened if an exam doesn’t go as well as it could have done. Other parts of the application procedure will allow you show your true potential.

yes

One essay. Mine was simply a homework essay of about 1200 words.
My interviewers commented that it was on a topic which they had not seem from any other candidate. Lots of applicants had submitted their coursework, many on the same topics, so I would suggest that sometimes doing something different can set you apart.

no

I really enjoyed them and felt at the time that they had gone reasonably well. The tutors were extremely friendly – making jokes, smiling and trying to reassure me – and it was a genuine discussion, rather than an interrogation.

The head interviewer offered me a piece of advice during the interview which I think would serve all History applicants well: “Don’t be frightened to state the obvious!”

First interview: half time was spent discussing submitted essay and the other half discussing general history topics, particularly concerning how you would go about researching topics.
Second interview: discussion of a set text, which we were given 1 hour before the interview. In my case, the piece was about 10/11 pages and was on a topic I had no prior knowledge of. Lots of the questions were thematic, rather than knowledge specific.

Quite casual really, with hindsight. Black trousers (which were actually semi-jeans in the disguise) and a shirt/jumper. Most of the boys wore smart trousers and shirt, or a full suit, but it varied a lot more with the girls.

Impressions

Well located in the city – just off the High Street, without attracting swarms of tourists in the summer. Relatively small but friendly.

Both rooms that I have stayed in on two different occassions have been comfortable and well-equiped. Ensuite, with a large wardrobe, study desk and chair, an armchair and, last but not least, a bed.

I’m a fussy eater and I was happy. A good selection of options at very reasonably prices, with formal hall at your disposal whenever you feel thus inclined.

Young, enthusiastic and very approachable. Ordinary – if highly intelligent – people.

Again, nothing but positive feedback really. Very kind and down to earth, sharing their mince pies with us poor terrified applicants and showing us around.

Final stage

I didn’t have to wait too long – 11/12 days. I was thankfully otherwise occupied with college/friends/work for most of the time. My letter arrived later than some of my fellow applicants, so it can very much vary depending on your own local post system.

I dashed home for my lunchbreak from work, only for it to arrive just as I was heading back out of the door. I was stunned, my Mum cried, my brother gave me a big hug and then I had to go back to work – skipping all the way, obviously!

Looking back

Of course! Even if I hadn’t been offered a place, it was still a fantastic experience and I have met some great people and learned a lot about what I want from my university experience.

If the subject is what you really, genuinely want to do, then go for it with all your heart and soul. Have faith in yourself, even if other universities reject you (I received a rejection the day before my Oxford interviews), and trust that whatever the decision is you will be happy wherever you end up.