Application

 Oxford

 St Hilda’s

 Philosophy and Theology

 2002

 offer made

Applicant

 A-levels

 pre-qualification

 home

 N/A

 FE College

 yes (4 A*,4 A,3 B)

A-levels

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

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

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

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

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

Details about the offer

 conditional

AAB

yes

I have named my conditional offer from Oxford University as my firm choice, and a conditional offer from King’s College, London as my insurance choice.

N/A

 grades pending/unknown

Decisions about the application

Because both the course specification and the reputation of the institution are second to none.

Oxford offered the course I wished to study.

Because, after having visited a number of colleges, it appeared much less austere, with a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere. Also, I appreciated the benefits offered by an all-female environment, and the fact that St HIlda’s seemed to be a very diverse community.

Preparation

no

When writing your UCAS personal statement try to be articulate and write fluently, especially if you are applying for an arts-based subject (eg. English, history, philosophy). Also, demonstrate enthusiasm for your subject in your writing and back this up with examples of books or publications you have read, field trips you have taken part in, etc. Finally, try your best to add something that is unique to you and demonstrate a little personal spark; remember, admissions tutors may have to read hundreds of application forms so make yours stand out!

Interview

no

yes

I had to submit two essays written as part of my A Level courses from arts-based subjects and one on a philosophical theme. I chose a history essay I wrote in the lower sixth on the fall of the Weimar Republic and an English assignment on complarative literature set just a few weeks before, as I had gained good marks in each and hoped this would demonstrate my academic development as well as my past achievements. I wrote an essay set by my teacher on a philosophical subject specifically for this purpose as I felt that this would be the best way to bring together all my knowledge efficiently.

yes

Yes, I had one written examination. This was a one-hour reasoning test as part of the philosophy selection procedure, and I prepared by obtaining a specimen paper from the Oxford Colleges Admissions Office.

Altogether I had four interviews, a short examination and another test and questionnaire which was for research purposes only. First, I sat a one-hour philosophy examination, after which I was interviewed by a philosophy and a theology tutor together. The next day I was interviewed by the college pricipal, and after I had begun preparing to leave I was told that I would have to attend two more interviews at St Peter’s college. The following morning I was escorted to St Peter’s by a lovely second-year student called Alice where I had two spearate interviews, one with a philosophy tutor and one with two theology tutors. I then waited until the 4:30 deadline by which time I would be made aware if I was required for interview elsewhere, and after having received no indication that this was the case I was allowed to leave.

I had one general and three academic interviews. My first was a joint philosophy and theology interview at St Hilda’s college, and I was asked questions on a document which I had been given to read beforehand, the written work I had submitted, my A Level courses and some common philsophical problems. My second interview was with the college Principal, and I was asked questions about my interests and career aspirations, as well as my reasons for choosing the subject, the college and the university, and what qualities I would hope to bring to St HIlda’s if successful. My third interview at St Peter’s was the most enjoyable as I was not as nervous as I had been before. The tutor asked me about controversial philsophical issues which I had read about before, and i was able to use my own thoughts on them as part of a mini ‘debate’. During my final interview I was mainly asked questions on my personal statement, especially the theology books I had read and the areas of interest which I had written about.

My mum was really excited that I was applying to Oxford, so she bought me loads of new clothes for my interviews! I just wore baggy flares, jumpers and purple Dr Marten’s because I felt comfortable in them and I wanted to come across as me rather than simply a clothes horse!

Impressions

I personally felt that many of the older former men’s colleges were austere and a little intimidating, and I chose St Hilda’s because of the relaxed nature of an all-female learning environment. Also, it is in a beautiful position on the river and has a cheap bar. My interviews at St Peter’s made me realise what a special place St Hilda’s was, as the atmosphere was much more formal and the position in the main modern shopping area of town was not ideal.

The rooms at St Hilda’s varied. The room I satyed in was very cold as the window was broken and looked out onto a brick wall. However, on inspecting the rooms allocated to other candiates I realises that they had carpets(!!), windows which worked and fantastic views over all the dreaming spires.

Good

Good provision for vegetarian and other specialist diets.

I found them generally reassuring and helpful, and not at all like the traditional protrayal of the Oxbridge don. They appeared keen to give me an opportunity to overcome my nerves and put across my knowledge and skills to the best of my ability.

Most of them were very helpful and reassuring. Although some were a little hostile to new faces, most were absolutely lovely, and some were completely mad (in a good way!). This helped put my mind at ease considerably.

Final stage

As the postal service in my area is, to put it politely, terrible, I sat in the front room every morning after having arrived back from Oxford ready to accost the postman. When the letter finally came (on Christmas Eve) I held it for about ten minutes before I dared to open it, and after having felt that there were about seven sheets inside it i suspected it was good news. When I did read it I smiled to myself and rang my mum, who screamed down the phone.

Looking back

Definitely. It is far too good an opportunity to miss. I have friends from my sixth form college who did not apply for fear of encountering an elitist attitude towards inner-city kids like ourselves, but these individuals will never know whether or not they would have been successful. The opportunites opened up by an Oxbridge education should not be passed up simply because of a few misinformed preconceptions.

Be assertive, but not over-confident about the whole application process. Try not to set your hopes too heavily upon gaining a place, but do not write off your chances straight away. Remember that tutors are interested in you, not any false persona you invent for yourself, so make sure that you sell yourself as yourself. If you are likely to get good grades, you should definitely apply.