Application

 Cambridge

 Jesus

 Social & Political Sciences

 2001 (deferred entry)

 rejected

Applicant

 A-levels

 pre-qualification

 N/A

 N/A

 Independent – non-selective

 yes (3 A*,6 A)

A-levels

(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

N/A

I am dropping out to re-apply.I always planned to have a gap year and had already arranged to go to Lesotho to teach for six months before I went to my interview

Decisions about the application

It is the best education available in the UK and it was the only university with a course I really really wanted to do

The course I wanted was only available at Cambridge

Good reputation, advice of older friends, offered financial support for worthwhile projects during non-term time

Preparation

yes

One mock interview, four times longer then my actual interview and far too friendly

Yes, put in what You want to talk about during Your interview (in my interview I was asked nothing about what was on my statement except what I was doing in my gap year)

Interview

no

no

no

I had 2 20 minute interviews, one purely academic, the other on my interests

I was told that having done A-level politics I must understand Marx and that I should explain his politcs, then asked to define a nation state, then to define terrorism

Black polo neck and smart-ish trousers, becasue I did not want to wear a suit but still didnt want to look too scruffy

Impressions

Looked very nice, niec accomdation. However nothing was done to welcome us. We were told where our rooms were and then left to our own devices (with the aid of a basic map of the college) to find where our interviews were. ALso we had nothing planned for the evening, many people ended up staying in therir rooms, alone. There was the Marshall lroom where you wiat in between your interviews, and there I met several people in need of a trip to a pub, which relaxed us that evening before our next interview, obviously we didnt get too relaxed. Just that however made me feel moe at home in the college and able to perform better in my next interview, which was unfortunately the college one rather than the academic one.

Nice room, bathroom between six, plus a sink in each room. Looked out into the quads.

Edible but not great

Dont touch the croissants

One of the academic interviewers had a special talent for making You feel stupid, the others were nice.

Very friendly, normal people who were (thankfully) less geeky than I had worried.

Final stage

I thought that the system wasnt very fair.That was my overriding thought, that and that even so I was upset to have failed it. 20 minutes to prove your academic ability is insufficient. Arriving in a strange college and being thrust straight away into a discussion with two fantastically intelligent people makes it difficult, especially as the interviewers appeared to be quite keen to prove just how fantasticly intelligent they were. You are trying to settle in whilst also trying to prove how smart you are. Whilst the ability to deal with pressure is important it robs candidates of the ability to form cohesive arguments, this is exarcebated by the probing questions. I was not given a chance to talk about anything I knew or understood except the nation state. This, although probably intended, made it more difficult as the interviewrs generally began by saying ‘of course you will understand this because of your A-levels’ only to ask me about things never to have appeared on any A-level syllabus I have seen e.g. an explanation of and arguments for against Marxist theory in contemporary politics (all to be done in five minutes). It is a very tough process and I can understand that it would be difficult to do it any fairer way. The fact that I have just felt the need to so justify my failure suggests the keen sense of injustice I felt at being rejected in such a fashion.

Looking back

Yes, because I would always want to know if i could have got in, and I would always want the chance to get to study that course.

READ EVERYTHING, dont specialise in one area, but remember that however much you do read they will still know more about the subject. Expect to go in and feel stupid, You will permanantly be a step behind in any argument. You will come out feeling as though You didnt do well but try to have made at least one or two perceptive arguments. This is difficult.

Go up there the night before if possible, talk to lots of candidates and see if you can arrange something gentle to do in the evening. Try to find out where your interview is as soon as you arrive and if possible find out if You will be called or have to wait outside the room etc. Make sure you say no if they assume you understand something you have never heard of, even if this means you sound very stupid. You cannot waste those minutes. I did not feel I had teh chance to say I didnt understand, I now regret not having made it absolutely clear that I had not studied Marx.