“Oxbridge is expensive” – MYTH!
Going to Oxford or Cambridge can actually be cheaper than many universities! Firstly, the terms are short – only three 8-week terms per year – so you’re not supporting yourself independently for very long. In addition, you’ll almost certainly be living in accommodation run by your college for at least 3 years, which has two advantages. Firstly it’s reasonably priced, and secondly you normally only pay rent for the time you’re actually using it. Everything’s close by in Oxford and Cambridge, so you won’t spend money on expensive rail fares and taxis to get around. A bike is more than enough! AND on top of all this, there’s generous support for students from lower income families!
Don’t be put off by cost – it really isn’t a problem.
“There’s no time for fun” – MYTH!
Whilst it’s true that the work is hard, there is time for fun too! You only have to glance down the names of top sportsmen, actors and comedians who have been to Oxford and Cambridge to realise that it’s very possible. In fact, having interests away from the work can help you to keep everything in perspective and ensure you approach your work with a clear mind. Even if you aren’t a county-standard rugby player, there are loads of clubs and societies to choose from – check out the students’ union websites for more details.
“No-one is from state-schools” – MYTH!
More than half of all new students are from state schools. In 2013 the figure was 57% for Oxford and 63% for Cambridge, and has been steadily rising for years.
“You need 12 A*s at GCSE to get in” – MYTH!
Most successful applicants don’t have 10 A*s at GCSE – the average quoted figures are from 5 – 8 A*s depending on the subject. Whilst good grades help you stand out, admissions tutors consider all aspects of your application and interview performance to get a balanced measure of your academic potential.
“Interviews are really scary” – MYTH!
Look at this from the interviewers point of view. What’s the purpose of the interview? It’s very much a test of what you CAN do, not what you can’t. The interviewer wants to see how you think, to judge how well the teaching styles and academic work wills suit you. This requires a two-way discussion, where you have chance to express your ideas and work your way through tricky problems. The interviewer wants to bring out the best in you, so a scary grilling would be rather counter-productive! A good interview should be an interesting and stimulating academic experience. The days of Oxbridge dons barking at you are well and truly gone.
Of course not everything is a myth:
“You’ll need to expand your vocabulary” – TRUTH!
This one is true, even if you’re not a language student! Both Oxford and Cambridge are very traditional universities and are not without their fair share of bizarre terms for everyday items. For example in Cambridge, a kitchen is a “gyp room”, cleaners are called “bedders”, a rowing contest is called “bumps” and you enter a college through the “plodge”. In Oxford, dinner might be a “crew date”, a party is a “bop” and the second boat is called “Isis”. That’s something to get your head around!