Application

 Oxford

 Mansfield

 Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE)

 2002

 rejected

Applicant

 A-levels

 pre-qualification

 N/A

 N/A

 Grammar School

Selective state school/grammar school

 yes (5 A*,4 A,1 B)

A-levels

(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)

Other universities

yes

N/A

Decisions about the application

First it was just sth. to aim for, but then other ppl at school were applying so i thought why not. my teachers encouraged me too. the whole lifestyle seems so far away from any other uni experience, i wanted to be an oxford graduate

2 of my teachers went there, SPS didn’t appeal, the application procedure seemed more friendly, just a gut feeling really.

I thought i’d have a better chance of getting in, but it seemed modern and friendly too

Preparation

yes

Yes, a lot of pointless seminars and meetings about choosing a college and filling in forms, more about oxbridge candidate elitism than actual preparation. i had a practice interview which made me confident. I could have easily done without it all

Don’t agonise over trying to make it ‘sound right’, if you have relevant info write it down, but on the open day i went to, i was told half of successful candidates left the oxford box blank

Interview

no

yes

One bad essay, which was all i could find coz we only started writng proper essays in U6th. my teacher gave it A/B but i knew it was rubbish, i should have written one in the summer hols. another i stressed over for days that i wrote with oxford in mind. it was marked an A, but again was very bad coz it was just five pages full of quotes from the masses of extra research i did instead of having any decent analysis. it wasn’t mentioned in interview but from other candidates’ comments i gathered they took them quite seriously

yes

You’re told u can’t prepare for the exam so i didn’t, i looked at previous papers which let me know what to expect. some ppl were given the chance to redo qus in the interview so if u can, get the question paper and think about the qus.

The most unsettling thing was being in oxford for a day prior, u forgot u were there for an interview, it was all a bit strange. i had one interview with 3 tutors, it’s very different from a one-on-one. 1 tutor walked out almost immediately, but returned. Each took ten minutes to talk to me while the others watched. they weren’t aggressive but the seating arrangement made it difficult to engage with them

I had to read a passage on house prices and define a bubble for econ a horrible logic problem for phil. a scenario about freedom of speech for pol., i took a really extreme point of view then had to fight tooth and nail to defend it with some odd arguments, i should have caved. asked about german politics too which i wasn’t sure about, but i tried to struggle through instead of saying i didn’t feel i knew enough about it to discuss it, as other candidates did. i had to read all the problems during the interview in front of them which was really difficult, i couldn’t absorb the info and i felt rushed

Purple cowl neck jumper, smart grey trousers, heels. i wanted to be smart but show some personality, but i think comfort is the most important thing, i’d go more casual now, but maybe that’s coz my college was relaxed- it doesn’t matter. in case this hasn’t been mentioned enough: THE COLD!

Impressions

I only visited mansfield prior to interview, i saw magdalen when i went in dec. Magdalen is proper oxford, that’s what i was expecting when i went to mansfield so i was a bit disappointed. it was nice but not striking

I was told my accommodation was among the worst in the college, but it was still pretty nice. there was a toilet to every three rooms and two showers for the whole corridor. the rooms were boiling hot but everywhere else was freezing with draughty windows. my wardrobe had labelled shelves for pyjamas, underwear etc. which i thoguht was pretty cool. really oxfordy. the unexpected visit from the warden was…unexpected.

Good

Vegetarians seemed to lose out, but the puddings made up for it. there were strict meal times that changed every day.

They were all foreign, so not the typical englishy oxford don…one smiled a lot but said hardly anything, another smoked a lot and said hardly anything, while the third seemed in charge. friendly but a bit distant. they didn’t talk as much as i expected, lots of silence. we all had the chance of re-interview, i didn’t take it… this is turning into How Not to Apply to Oxbridge… : S

Just a bunch of ppl, generally the atmosphere was relaxed. i don’t know if this is an oxford thing, bu they all seemed to be wearing a fleece. some were nice and made an effort to get us chatting at dinner, i remembered some from the open day, there a few Charles Wilcox from Howards End characters who were just funny. others kept to themselves.

Final stage

It had a vague reference to the pool, so it took me a while to accept it was actually a rejection. they promised feedback which i haven’t got yet, i always half intended to reapply if i got rejected, which is what i’m still deciding now, depends on the feedback. it seems everyone else from my school got in, which makes it much worse.

Looking back

Yes, but i wish i’d done a million things differently. it seems anyone famous and successful went to oxbridge, the whole lifestyle is really appealing and i genuinely think i’d end up a better person.

However u prepare make sure u do it way in advance, don’t leave extra reading for the train or for when you arrive – as i did. coz the most important thing is being confident and relaxed. i reckon they know everyone is capable of getting in, they’re looking for people they can get on with and discuss issues with. i think a big part was looking at how u deal with being wrong or whether u can accept another argument. expect oddities, it’s an oxbridge interview after all.

Do not be nervous, it will stop you from thinking straight. research colleges, and other schemes e.g. access scheme, which i qualified for but didn’t take part in. u can’t predict what will happen in the interview as they vary SO much from college to college. don’t stress over extra reading and preparation, for me a lot of it was based on general knowledge and then developed further.don’t be in awe of oxford. be yourself, they can see through any pretensious rubbish, u don’t have to be posh or a genius at all (looking at the ppl i know who got in).