Some advice for potential applicants during the open days and summer period:
Applying to Oxford can be an exciting time. There are many amazing courses to choose from, all of which offer a unique opportunity. However, it can all also be rather daunting. Here are some tips and advice based on my own experiences.
Go to the open days. Open days are the best way to explore both different subjects and colleges. Many colleges require advance confirmation/booking (which is free to do) in order to manage numbers, so do make sure that you check beforehand. Many people I met when at the summer open day at Oxford were actually attending two open days – one where they looked at different departments and the other where they looked around at a few colleges. If getting to Oxford is an issue, there are the regional Oxbridge conferences, which take place around Easter time across the UK. These are essentially open days, exclusively for Oxford and Cambridge that are held at multiple locations.
Take the freebies! Everyone loves free things, and there will be lots on offer at the open days. In the case of Oxford and Cambridge, it is worth noting that significantly more prospectuses and leaflets are given out, as every college and department will have their own. University-wide prospectuses will also be available, which include details of every course offered, colleges that offer them, admissions requirements and also thorough course descriptions. In the case of Oxford, there are also small interview guides available which offer guidance on how to prepare before an interview. These are the only official guides produced by Oxford available and are free, so they are worth looking for!
Ask lots of questions. If you have a question but are afraid that it may be somewhat silly, chances are that someone else has also had the same thought, so do ask! Open days and the regional conferences are a great place to ask current students who were applicants themselves not too long before, anything that you may not necessarily want to ask a senior admissions tutor.
If you cannot make any open days/regional conferences, do not worry. It is still possible to arrange to view a college and/or a department on an individual basis – just call the relevant college/department and take it from there. I remember showing many prospective students around my college and department throughout the year who were not able to make the main open days.
Keep an open mind. Many of you may have a set idea of what you want to study at university, be it medicine or English, etc. However, thoroughly research the course specification and syllabuses of the undergraduate degree programs, as these vary significantly between academic institutions. It may be the case that a course you may not have considered is actually more suited to what you are interested in than something which you previously thought.
Finally, have fun! Applying to university is more than just a formal requirement, as you are making a decision on what and where to invest 3 (or more) years of your life in.