Application

 Oxford

 Worcester

 Music

 2002

 rejected

Applicant

 A-levels

 pre-qualification

 home

 N/A

 Independent – selective

 yes (4 A*,4 A,1 B)

A-levels

(NA at AS)

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

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

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

Other universities

yes

N/A

Decisions about the application

I suppose I’d always considered it, and people had encouraged me to apply. And … Oxford is pretty ^_^

For some reason Oxford has always appealed to me more … To quote the Oxford alternative prospectus, it is not an “insular tinsel town” like Cambridge ^_~ I liked the look of the Oxford music course as well.

Because I read about the tutors there and they seemed absolutely great (and they are – they’re both really nice.)

Preparation

yes

Yes! Too much! I corrupted my mind with too much preparation. My school was extremely helpful with mock interviews etc, but they were NOTHING LIKE the real thing.

On Oxford Application Form: Um … well, I wouldn’t know what a successful one exactly involves (bitter? me?!) but, just try to communicate why you think you should be at Oxford, and at that particular college.

On interviews: It’s pretty useless to try to learn the Grove dictionary off by heart and know everything. They don’t necessarily want people who already know it all – they want people who can learn. What I would advise you to do is to really brush up on your aural skills and improvisation. And make absolutely sure that you understand figured bass and can play Bach chorales. It’s useful to be able to play the piano.

Interview

no

yes

I submitted two essays, a sample of Bach harmony and some composition. Composition is optional but I thought I’d send some because it’s my main interest and I’d written about it on my statement.

yes

See “what questions were you asked during your interview(s)?”

The one at Worcester was in a poky little room in which the two interviewers sat on chairs and stared at me and asked many evil questions. I was on a sofa, so I felt really small. I had another at LMH, but … that went hideously wrong, because I went all the way up there, and got lost, only to find out that my interview was actually supposed to be at the Faculty of Music, not at LMH … so they rearranged it for the next day at LMH, which, in daylight, I managed to find. Still, I’m sure they decided I was definitely a total reject when I didn’t even make it to my interview … *sigh*

I also had to do a practical test, which was in the faculty of music. That went fairly well, except there was a big light in my line of sight that just kept flashing and clicking. The clicking was fairly rhythmic too, which is most distracting when one is trying to play a Chopin nocturne … However, the tutors were very lovely and offered to let me come back and audition elsewhere, if I thought it had put me at a disadvantage. Should’ve taken them up on it …

Well, being the fool I am I applied to the college where the tutors are really into giving formal tests. What I had to do was this: improvise some variations on a given bass line, improvise a short piece based on a really nasty nonsensical scale and evil rhythmic passage, play a Bach chorale all the way through given only the melody and a few figures, and discuss a rather vicious essay question. They also handed me a Beethoven sonata and made me analyse the harmony, etc.

My sixth form has a fairly smart dress code so I was OK. I wore a skirt, shirt and v-neck jumper thing. I wore clothes that were smart, but that I felt comfortable in.

Impressions

Worcester wasn’t, to be honest, what I expected. It looked much smaller than it did in the prospectus, and it’s not your typical Oxford college … it’s quite unusual. However, it is very very beautiful and lovely and there is a lake.

Lady Margaret Hall … heh … that will always be fondly remembered by me … I think it’s a nice college, but due to the disastrous interview there I will never see it as being particularly splendid.

I had a really great room in Worcester, actually. It smelt weird … but there was a separate sitting room, bedroom, and bathroom (with a shower! excellent! So we’ll disregard the mould growing on the ceiling!)

Umm … as Worcester is supposed to have great food, it doesn’t give me much confidence for the other colleges. The chips were made of rubber, I swear …

Very nice and friendly.

Also very nice and friendly. But slightly intimidating.

Final stage

I sat there staring at it for a while, then shredded it into tiny little pieces and burst into tears. Then I went to the computer to fill this profile out so that perhaps some people can benefit from my failure. I think the hardest bit will be going back to pick up the pieces of the letter, which are currently scattered across my living room. I’m not as upset as I thought I would be, though, because Oxford itself was certainly not what I expected.

Looking back

Umm, seeing as I adore having my self-esteem crushed to a sticky pulp, yes, definitely.

Don’t over-prepare, as it will just make you more nervous. Don’t put Oxford on a pedestal – it’s a fantastic university, but there are other amazing ones out there, that are equally good. Unless you are super-confident, try to apply to a college that will not be hugely competitive. I didn’t anticipate that Worcester would be, but there were 19 applicants to 3 places.

Make sure you visit Oxford, if possible. Just spending a day looking around will help you immensely in your college decision, which I know is very difficult. Try to get to some open days, as well, they do help.

Remember that Music is a fantastic, diverse, amazingly brilliant subject. If you have applied to do it, I’m certain that you will be happy wherever you go.

And please do not hesitate to email me. I would really love to be able to help you. I was lucky enough to know someone who’s been through it all before, and it really helped to be able to talk it over.