Application

 Cambridge

 Trinity

 Philosophy

 2002

 offer made

Applicant

 A-levels

 pre-qualification

 N/A

 N/A

 Grammar School

 yes (9 A*,2 A)

A-levels

(A at AS)

(A 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

yes

I hope to switch to History after Part I Philosophy. (so hopefully 2 years of philosophy and 2 years of history).

N/A

 grades pending/unknown

Decisions about the application

Well, I guess it wasn’t really a rational calculated decision on my part. It simply has always been a childhood ambition to do so. It is the best univeristy in Europe (I quote from The Guardian) and to have the opportnity to br part of such a prestigious, repsected and historical institution is amazing.
(and I hope it will be a very good start for a political career!)

Cambridge is academically better. Oxford is better for combined philosophy degrees, I don’t think it is available as a single subject there. Cambridge the town is also smaller than Oxford and I just fell in love with the university when I visited it in the summer.

It is the biggest college and arguably the most prestigous although that also makes it the most daunting! It has breathtakingly beautiful grounds it really is a mesmeising and inspring place. It is also the best for ‘thinkers’, Trinity can lay claim to Bertrand Russell, G.E.Moore, Ludwig Wittengstein and Adam Whitehead amongst others.

Preparation

yes

I went to a selective/grammar school but I am now at the most wonderful place – Loreto College, Manchester :), a brilliant inner-city state college. Loreto is allied to Cambridge, more specifically Sydney Sussex College (I’m the only not going there!). We had been invited to stay at Cambridge during the summer at Sydney and were given talks and advice on our application. We were also given practice interviews at college by two lovely elderly gentlemen who were very experienced with Oxford and Cambridge. I have the most wondeful teacher, Mr Geraghty who is like my mentor, he provides with me with so much support and enouragment.

I read a bit before the inetrviews, that’s quite important especially for a highly reading intensive subject like philosphy. I started with simple books like ‘Philsophy-the Basics (N.Warburton), books about Plato, Descartes and Aristotlelian Ethics. I also took up Theology and Ethics AS.

Interview

no

yes

Unlike other colleges Trinity does not require a written exam for philosophy (in prospectus). I was very stressed because I was convinced they wanted work to a post-graduate level or something! After much futile effort at attempting to conjure up something impressive I decided that it would probably be a good idea to send in some past work! I sent in two economics essays, teh only presentable pieces, completed unrelated to philosophy (well the mechanisms of capitalism can count as political philosphy ish? ) I was convinced that I had completed blew my chances by doing that but in fact they thought they were very good and based a lot of the interview on them (probably a good idea to read them before you go, actually do read them, I forgot, well I meant to but didn’t have time, but luckily I remmebered them the bits asked, phew talk about being lucky!).

no

There were two inteviews altogether and my experiences of them were pretty polarised. I was the first one being interviewed that day so didn’t know what to expect. I stayed overnight and met (they were lovely! Hi Ben see your profile here! 😀 and Ryan who was lovely) the fellow candidates. I felt like a lamb to the slaughter, I wasn’t really nervous until I was waiting to go into the room. The first interview was absolutely disastrous, I completely contradicted myself (“I do not believe in absolutes.” huh? isn’t that an absolutist statement! :D). As soon as I came out I burst out in tears and the guy who was with me (a lovely and very vey scared second year engineering student Andrew) had to take me to the toilet where I wailed and ranted on about my disillusionment with the whole world! I’m very very sorry Andrew :). The second interview on the otherhand was so so comfortable, Mr.Denyer (I hope it’s okay to mention names) was very approachable and it was so natural to engage in a debate with him. I told him how awful I had been in the first one, the atmosphere was very friendly with no tensions and didn’t feel like ‘an interview’ at all. I enjoyed it very much and was definately a great experience.

In the first one I was given a situation (based on my essay) regarding the notion of ‘economic effciency’. I was fine explaining what that was but was truly appalling when it came to adapting it to the proposition. I have only rather vague recollections of the specific questions but I do remember quoting Heraclitus and declaring how “I believe the world is in flux…true knowledge is impossible in a reality without constancy” blah blah something along those lines. Genral epistemological quesions. I never thought I would be asked ‘Why Cambridge/phiosophy?’ because it was so expected and cliched, but er I was. I han’t prepared at all for that! I told her the truth which was that I loved the subject and it is fundamentally what life is. I detected a really awkward air and that pretty much concluded my first one. In the second one I was questioned about my essay again (I had been told that they veryrarely so that!) but luckily it was a bit I was very familiar with. The inetrview revolved around the notion of ‘what is good?’ (with one question being “How can I judge whethere a candidate is better than another?” I think I used the Emotivist argument, Mr Denyer then proceeded reading out my GCSE grades and said “but I can compare your grades to someone elses and can compared the population of Glasgow and London and say that London is a bigger city” I think I then talked about how “There can be no independent measuring instrument of goodness, it is an abstract relative notion and factors used to detect ‘goodness’ are superspacial…”) Fortunately I was covering the topic of ‘What is Good’ in my Theology AS so it was really a wonderful piece of luck I guess. Time went by really quickly and I was really enjoying myself.

A suit. I like to be conventional but I also felt comfortable in it which is the most important thing.

Impressions

The first college I visited was Sidney Sussex, we stayed there during the summer but I knew it wasn’t for me. I took the opporutnity whilst there to look around, I went to Kings, St.Johns, Dowing, Corpus Christi, Fitzwilliam, and Trinity amongst others. I fell in love with Trinity as soon as I saw it but didn’t for one minute think that I could possibly be accepted because it was just too imposing and indimidating. I was also won over by its impressive alumni, like Sir Issac Newton, Lord Byron, Sir Francis Bacon, Jehru and 6 Prime Ministers, the list is endless.
I was adamant that I would apply to Trinity because I wanted the biggest college.

The room I stayed in was modern but my desk was directly facing the student bar and I would be able see all sorts of debaucheries whilst studying so that was quite amusing! There is digital TV in the student common room so plenty of shopping channels! There’s also a jukebox in the bar!
If I get the grades to go to Trinity, my eyes will be green with envy of those thrid years student who have amazing Victorian suites overlooking the Great Court (yes the President and the Captain of the Boat House!)

Excellent

Mmmmmm… 🙂

Lovely 🙂

Most had gone home for their Christmas holidays but I (and Ryan) was on the day of the inteview looked after by a very nice student (Andrew) who had stayed to help out!

Final stage

I wasn’t at home when the letter came so my mother rang me to tell me that the letter had come. So I rushed home semi drunk, grabbed the letter and locked myself in my bedroom. I opend it very very slowly and when I saw A A A I realised it was an offer and was a wee bit pleased!
I learnt that offers come in bigger envelopes.
I remember being on the phone to my friends because all our(all around 15 of us and we were all really good friends and we were really nervous) replies came on the same day.

Looking back

Yes because it is without doubt one of the best decisions that I have ever made.

Don’t panic 🙂