Even in 2018, the myth that only privately educated students belong in Oxbridge exists. I’m here to dispel it.
No matter who you are, the transition from school to university is exciting and nerve-wracking in equal measure. But for state-school students, the prospect of going to university – particularly a socially-accepted ‘good’ university, like Oxbridge or a Russell Group – has its own set of exciting and nerve-wracking challenges.
The beginning of my story…
When I was applying for university, I didn’t have any resources like UniAdmissions to help guide me through the thorny path of personal statements and interviews. My mock-interview for Cambridge involved my sixth form tutor asking me questions like “Would you prefer a book or a Kindle?” without any reference to written work I had submitted, or my personal statement; questions that clearly have no place in an Oxbridge interview. I was the first in my family to even contemplate applying for university.
The fact that you’ve sought out UniAdmissions at all – that you’re currently reading this blog post – means you’ve already been more proactive than I had been. But that doesn’t mean you’re not experiencing the same fears and concerns that plagued me all throughout Year 12 and 13. Now that I’ve come out the other side of the university experience, I’m here to reassure you of two things;
1) No matter how many self-defeating doubts you might entertain, the admissions system (particularly for Oxbridge) is designed to level the playing field.
2) If you’re even slightly entertaining the prospect of applying to Oxbridge, you’re good enough and you should apply.
Of course, both of these bullet points are purposely broad.
I’ll go into a bit more detail about both of them now… but read them. Read them again. It’s easy to buy into the myth that Oxbridge is unattainable if you haven’t studied Latin at GCSE, or if you don’t know anyone who has been to university, even if your state school is a good and high achieving one. But it’s not true.
Oxbridge aren’t looking for the finished product. All they want is someone who is passionate and engaged about the subject, and who wants to talk about it in a formal setting. And whilst it’s true that mostly everyone who applies to Oxbridge entertains these doubts about whether they are ‘good enough’, in my experience it’s a very specific experience to a state-educated student. Oxbridge can seem like a mythical, alien system – but it’s just another university.
The interviews are designed to coax students out of any pre-coaching they may have been given by their school.
Most of the courses will also have some form of formal or informal test as part of the interview package.
UniAdmissions is the perfect resource for preparing for both the exams and the interviews, from tutors who have experienced them first-hand: this goes some way to redressing the balance between the resources different schools can offer. But whilst these resources are absolutely something you should tap into, you should also have faith in all the skills you’ve already naturally picked up, even if you don’t know it. You’re smart, you’re engaged, you’re an independent learner, you’re ambitious. It’s these traits that will stand out in the interview.
As always, it comes down to a bit of luck.
For the luck to work, you need to put yourself out there. Whilst the admissions rates of private to state school students have improved over the years, Oxford and Cambridge are still in need of more talented, driven state school students in their system, and this will never not be true. Apply.
Don’t want the horror story interview of “Would you prefer a book or a kindle?”
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