Application

 Cambridge

 Downing

 Social & Political Sciences

 2002

 rejected

Applicant

 A-levels

 pre-qualification

 home

 United Kingdom

 Grammar School

 yes (1 A,4 B,4 C,1 D)

A-levels

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

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

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

Other universities

N/A

Decisions about the application

I am pursuing a very competitive career and wanted to give myself the best opportunity. It’s an ambition in any case.

Oxford only do Experimental Psychology (not my interest). I didn’t get a good feeling from Oxford, but did from Cambridge.

It’s a medium sized college (so not over-intimate but not alienating), it’s a very attractive looking college and (what can I say?) it felt right.

Preparation

no

I wasn’t applying as an A’Level candidate, but as an ‘affiliated’ student (having already gained a university degree).

I’m perhaps not the best person to ask, for all I know the personal statement let my application down. But clearly there is no point exaggerating or lying, as the interview will be partly based on the statements made therein. I don’t think there’s any point of laboriously churning out what you think they want to hear – it has to stand out as an indication of your abilities; so give good reasons for what you say, if appropriate, and make clear why you want to go to Oxbridge, to study the specific subject, and in a specific college. Given that they’re looking for outstanding students, trust your abilities and say something beyond the mundane (without being pretentious or OTT). They need to know two things (at least): (1) that you are committed to and driven in your studies; (2) that you have the potential to succeed in the pressured academic environment they offer. Use the statement to help make these two factors evident in you.

Interview

no

no

no

No interviews for affiliated students at Downing.

Impressions

Wide, open, Platonic. Corpus is just gorgeous.

Final stage

I was pretty unlucky in that I found out not by letter, but on the UCAS website, in typically direct style (bold red type, too!). Downing also failed to send the rejection letter, I had to contact them to confirm that I had indeed been rejected (sorry, I mean, my *application* had been rejected). It was all very dispiriting and confusing. I, too, spent a week or more in ‘denial land’.

Looking back

If I were to re-live *that* year, then I certainly would not apply. It was strange and horrific to be refused. But, this is only with the wisdom of hindsight. At the time it was a good idea. Gotta take shots on goal, even half-chances.

If you have the grades, or predicted grades, (they are pretty sticky on that issue i’m afraid), of at least ABB (I suppose), then go for it. If not, and you’re close to that, then go for it anyway and hope for an interview so you can shine. But be *very* aware in both cases that it could end in disappointment, whilst also doing all you can to prepare thoroughly. Be realistic and have contingency plans. Practise interviews, write and rewrite the personal statment (many times), and most importantly don’t forget to do well in the A’Levels. Obviously.