Application

 Oxford

 Magdalen

 Philosophy and Modern Languages

 2009

 offer made

Applicant

 A-levels

 pre-qualification

 home

 United Kingdom

 FE College

Only one in my school.

Was home-educated until I started GCSEs/A-levels.

 yes (2 A,1 B)

A-levels

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

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

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

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

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

Details about the offer

 conditional

AA

yes

yes

no

 grades pending/unknown

Decisions about the application

It’s where I live and want to stay.

Cambridge is too far North and doesn’t have my course.

Think philosophy is really important, but only in the light of other problems. So figure I should be studying other problems in some way or another.

It’s near my current residence, so that will be useful if I decide to live out. In retrospect I wish I’d applied to a more modern college.

Preparation

no

One of them recommended that I read a book. Yes, that might help.

Read everything you’ve mentioned in the PS.

DON’T think they’re not going to ask obvious/extremely general questions which invite a rehearsed answer. Most of my interviews consisted of fairly bland/straightforward questions e.g. “What did you think of [book]?”

So do rehearse answers to obvious questions.

Interview

no

no

Sent two very analytical essays that I was proud of. One was an A-. :O

no

Yes, 1-hour test. I thought it went terribly.

Extremely underwhelming.

In the first one, I made the most incredible gaffe which involved failing to read the notice board and hanging around for half an hour when I should have been reading an extract. They were kind enough to start the interview 30 mins late, but I was still slightly perturbed about it and left the philosophy interview with a bad taste in my mouth.

The actual discussions we had were semi-interesting, although they were a bit unfocused, I thought. From the extract, we talked about skepticism and solipsism, which I failed to refute. Moved on to talk about a book in the PS — I honestly don’t recall articulating any good idea relating to it. Attempted to explain a couple of things but only scratched the surface.

The literature interview was more fun/friendly. We chatted about literature; interviewer erratically changed the subject every couple of minutes. However, we were talking about the nature of humour for what seemed like a huge portion of the interview, which I enjoyed.

The tutor talked a lot. On the one hand I didn’t want to interrupt him, but on the other I didn’t want to walk out not having said more than 5 words…

“What did you think of this book”

“what about this book (in your PS)”

“What about the philosophical society you’re running.”

“What did you think of the extract.”

Loads of really general stuff. In the literature interview I was asked a few really specific questions that I outright couldn’t answer, e.g. “what form is this poem in” and “What’s the significance of this reference to antiquity.”

White blouse, blazer, dark trousers. Just to feel confident.

Changed to jeans for the literature interview because I know what these literary people are like. 😛

Impressions

Magdalen was nice, I suppose. I found it stuffy, though. Very stuffy – not necessarily an inspiring atmosphere.

Really nice rooms! Bath water was a bit cold though. They had sinks in the rooms but not the lavatory. A bit awkward.

Fine. Good salads.

The two I met were nice. Met three Modern Language tutors while mingling; they seemed really friendly.

Philosophy person was slightly intimidating, but ultimately kind.

Upper-class. 🙂 No, I lie. They were mainly ‘normal’ people.

Final stage

I decided I wouldn’t get in. Spent a week feeling depressed about it, but at the same time not wanting to re-plan my life just in case. Bad times.

Basically didn’t want to get out of bed to read the rejection letter. Realised it was actually quite thick. Grudgingly started to open it and saw a bit of orange something or other. “WTF is that?” Realised it must be an offer. Very happy.

Looking back

I suppose I would. Even if I hadn’t got in.

The whole experience was really interesting, especially all the self-reflection it invoked.

Oxford is NOT special.