Application

 Cambridge

 Selwyn

 Oriental Studies

 2001

 offer made

Applicant

 A-levels

 pre-qualification

 N/A

 N/A

 Grammar School

 yes (2 A*,6 A,1 B)

A-levels

(NA at AS)

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

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

A2 level in Irish. Predicted A.

Details about the offer

 conditional

AAA

yes

N/A

 grades pending/unknown

Decisions about the application

I was looking for an intensive course that would be well-taught. I therefore liked the idea of a supervision system (unique to Oxbridge) and knew I would be guided by the finest scholars in the country. I also wanted to go somewhere that would have students with the same amount of dedication as myself.

I had a better feeling about the course at Cambrige and thought it suited my interests better. I also knew people who had gone there, and all other Oxbridge applicants in my year applied to Cambridge. It’s also higher in the league tables than Oxford both for my subject and overall.

It apparently has a good success rate for Japanese and has a Director of Studies in the subject. It’s also very near the oriental studies faculty and the master of the college is Professor of Japanese Studies.

Preparation

yes

Yes – 2 mock interviews and a series of talks. Not bad since I only decided to apply in late September.

If you said on your form that you can speak some Japanese, be prepared to do so at the interview. I wasn’t expecting to have to do this and was a bit flustered. Read up on issues relating to Japan too – it will provide a good topic of conversation and help convey your enthusiasm. But they are unlikely to ask specific questions relating to Japanese history etc unless you bring up such topics yourself. The main thing is to appear enthusiastic, intelligent and open-minded.

Interview

no

no

Nope, wasn’t asked for any.

no

The first interview was a subject one (unusual order I know). They were very friendly and immediately made me feel at ease. It went on for quite a while (probably because I talked so much) but they didn’t seem to mind. At the end they asked if I had any questions (which I did) and they spent a good while answering them (which I thought was a good sign). The second interview was a general one with a chemist, but we still talked about issues relating to my subject for most of the interview. Again, a very friendly guy.

Subject interview: 1) How are new words coined in the Irish language? 2) The Japanese language is clearly fascinating for you, but is it so for Japanese people? 3) (This question was asked in Japanese) Tell me about your experience as an interpreter last summer. 4) Why did you choose those A-levels? They didn’t seem particularly impressed that I’d chosen ‘Business Studies’ and asked what exactly the subject entailed. I had to try and justify why I’d chosen a subject like that instead of History.

Nice trousers, shirt and tie, jacket.

Impressions

Lovely nineteenth century architecture, beautiful location on leafy Sidgwick Avenue.

Funny and friendly.

I only met one – she was really down to earth and friendly.

Final stage

I wasn’t expecting it to arrive before the new year, so I couldn’t believe it when my mum came in to wake me up with the letter in her hand. I was still lying in bed when I opened it – first I saw that there was a seperate yellow leaflet with it (a good sign) and then I read what was written on the white paper. I looked up at my mum, gobsmacked and said ‘I got in!’

Looking back

Yes – the whole process really did take it out of me but it was worth it in the end.

If you don’t get in, just try to put the experience behind you and tell yourself it was for the best. I know lots of people who didn’t and they’re all really happy where they’ve gone.
If you do get in, don’t let it go to your head. Chances are the high grade requirement will hit you harder than you think and hopefully enable you to focus.