29 Apr Thinking about applying to Oxbridge?
Occupying two of the top three slots in the World University Rankings, Cambridge and Oxford are seen as the pinnacle of higher education. But are you thinking about applying to Oxbridge?
Long thought of as nigh on impossible to be accepted unless you’re posh and privately educated, I’m here to debunk those assumptions and provide some useful tips about a successful application. In recent years, a widening participation programme has seen the percentage of state school pupils admitted increase year on year, currently around 70%, which really does open up opportunities for those that feel they would like to include Oxbridge within their university application.
Whilst it’s still true that you do need to be motivated to achieve top grades in your A levels, with the right study plan and revision techniques this is absolutely possible even if you feel you’re not a natural academic or are the type of person who stresses about exams. Yes, the terms at Oxbridge are intense so you need to be prepared for a lot of self-motivated studying. But if you are attracted by the idea of learning amongst historical buildings and embracing new challenging opportunities then it might just be worth investigating what’s on offer.
How to apply
The deadline for Oxbridge applications this year is 15th October. This is more than two months EARLIER than most other universities. You do need to include all your five choices at this time. This means that you will need to start researching options sooner rather than later and set aside some time over the summer holidays to draft a personal statement. And bear in mind you can only apply to either Oxford or Cambridge. The degree courses on offer at each university will have differences so make sure you explore core modules to ensure the content appeals to you.
Both Cambridge and Oxford operate a collegiate system which means that when you apply you need to choose a potential college. Or you can make an open application and be allocated a college. There are many theories about which college you choose to apply to but in the vast majority of cases, people are more than happy with whichever they end up with. Worth noting that if you are rejected by your choice then you may get ‘pooled’ which will give other colleges an opportunity to consider your application.
Because all applicants will be on course to receive top grades, both Oxford and Cambridge use a variety of additional criteria as part of each student’s application. These include submission of written work, assessment tests before or during interview, the interview process, references and contextual data.
Top tips for your application:
• Choose a course that interests you
• Don’t fret about choosing a particular college or worry about related admission statistics to certain colleges
• Do read around your subject outside of your A levels/IB curriculum
• Do start to think about your personal statement before the summer
• Oxbridge place importance on supra-curricular activities (rather than extra-curricular activities). Evidence that you’ve explored further in your subject beyond your classroom specification could include engaging in books, documentaries, and work experience related to your chosen degree subject.
• Understand that your personal statement will need to stay applicable for other universities too
Above all, if you feel inclined then I strongly recommend you include Cambridge or Oxford on your application. You have nothing to lose. If you do not receive an offer then you will still have learnt valuable application skills that will prove useful in the future. You’ll also be ahead of the game with regards to your other applications, as your UCAS submission will be complete by October. Which means when others are spending time finishing their later applications you can be using the time for revision!
It’s also worth mentioning that many other UK universities feature high in the world rankings and if it turns out that Oxbridge is not for you there are many fantastic alternative routes towards your continuing educational journey.
If you would like further advice for any university applications get in touch on our contact page.