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What you wish you'd been told before coming to Oxford

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    (Original post by bysshe)
    Really, the workload's fine. As I keep saying to prospective English students, just make friends with some PPEists and you'll be fine. I haven't found the workload too bad at all. Just keep up with the reading, work hard without getting too stressed out, and you'll be all right. The deadlines might seem scary at first, but you'll quickly adapt.
    Will try to! I spent/d so much time procrastinating over essays during A levels that i reckon it'll do me good to learn how to just get cracking on things instead of dossing.
    I also want to get involved with drama and I'd imagine that that could take up quite a lot of time so I'd have no choice but to be organised really!

    Also, are you just given things to read over the holidays, or essays to do as well? Because someone said that Oxford have the longest holidays of any uni in England (and the shortest terms), but I'm sure that's counterbalanced by lots of holiday reading?
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    (Original post by eenie_pod)
    Will try to! I spent/d so much time procrastinating over essays during A levels that i reckon it'll do me good to learn how to just get cracking on things instead of dossing.
    I also want to get involved with drama and I'd imagine that that could take up quite a lot of time so I'd have no choice but to be organised really!

    Also, are you just given things to read over the holidays, or essays to do as well? Because someone said that Oxford have the longest holidays of any uni in England (and the shortest terms), but I'm sure that's counterbalanced by lots of holiday reading?
    I think it would be pretty unusual not to get a huge reading list for the holidays. I think I had an Old English reading list for Christmas, as well as a translation, an essay, and revision for collections. Over Easter I had more revision, a modern literature reading list, and two essays. It sounds like a lot, but you have such a long time off. This summer it's not too bad. I've got one very long reading list, one shorter one, and have to do a 2,000 word essay.
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    (Original post by eenie_pod)
    Because someone said that Oxford have the longest holidays of any uni in England (and the shortest terms), but I'm sure that's counterbalanced by lots of holiday reading?
    It's true that we have short terms but I'm not entirely sure that - over the year as a whole - the time we spend at university is considerably less than elsewhere. As one of my friends pointed out, for most subjects Oxford has three terms of 8 weeks worth of work, whereas it seems to be the case for a lot of my friends that they will have two longer terms/semesters/whatever you call them between September/October and, say, April but are then just revising for exams. In Oxford you can expect to be working up until mid-June. So whilst other universities may be in residence for slighly longer, I'm not sure if they will have much more or less than the 24 official weeks of teaching that many Oxford students get.

    This might be total rubbish though - I don't really know all that much about term dates elsewhere.
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    actually i think the 8 week term is a myth. it's actually a 9 week term as everyone arrives in 0th week and cracks on with reading/essays to be submitted in 1st week.
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    That I would hate my course and end up wanting to drop out every single day.
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    (Original post by Mathlete91)
    That I would hate my course and end up wanting to drop out every single day.


    :hugs:
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    (Original post by Skippeh)
    If people here say 9hrs is killing yourself, workloads not as much as I regularly spend 9-12hrs on A levels per day but thats me, I'm odd and doing too many A levels
    Hm. I've never done 12 hour days for anything (except paid work, that is) - but whatever your working routine is, you need to remember that 12 hours of A-level revision =/= 9 hours of dense reading and essay writing. 9 hour days can most certainly be absolutely exhausting when the work you're covering is difficult (and the work level at Oxford is definitely more intense than at A-level!)

    (Original post by HoVis)
    - That it is actually ok to leave Oxford for a weekend and go home to avoid 6th week blues!

    - That the Alternative Tuck Shop should be visited on the first day of 0th week rather than halfway through Hilary!
    You know, the 'blues' tend to hit me around 6th week rather than 5th as well - but as others have pointed out, they're definitely known as '5th week blues' across most of Oxford. Yay for ATS though - their coconut raspberry triangle things are made of win. :yep:

    (Original post by tigrrmilk)
    - that choosing my degree based on it being oxford (which is what i did really), and based on the course being one that i thought would be good for me, rather than one that i would actively enjoy, was completely stupid.
    Hey, you. I totally did that too.. I think I've been pretty lucky in ending up at a slightly more flexible college than most, but there are definitely courses up and down the country that would have suited me much better. Think I even knew it at the time I was applying, but ignored the fact because I was so in love with the idea of being at Oxford. I don't really regret the decision to come here, though..

    (Original post by eenie_pod)
    I thought the English course at Oxford was really flexible and free, and that you had loads of choice?
    is it particular to your college? I'm hopefully a Teddy Hall fresher (for English) and was expecting quite a lot of freedom in the course...:confused:

    on another note, which course would you have done if not for English lit?
    Nein.. it's very restrictive; I mean, unless you take Course II, you sit exactly the same finals papers as everyone else in the year - that's pretty limited, even by Oxford standards. Some colleges will even dictate the exact authors you study (fortunately mine doesn't, and I know of a couple that are a bit more flexible - though there are a few authors you can't escape!) That said, you get a bit of freedom in third year with your special options.. but yeah, overall, it's a very prescriptive course. As for other subjects.. I would have gone for PPE if it hadn't been Lit.

    (Original post by eenie_pod)
    Also, are you just given things to read over the holidays, or essays to do as well? Because someone said that Oxford have the longest holidays of any uni in England (and the shortest terms), but I'm sure that's counterbalanced by lots of holiday reading?
    Hm.. vacation work from first year onwards has looked a little like this:

    Summer vac before first year: around 20 Victorian novels; essay for 0th week
    Christmas vac in first year: the whole of the Canterbury Tales and Malory; commentary for 0th week
    Easter vac in first year: Hardy's canon (including poems); essay for 0th week

    Summer vac before second year: The Faerie Queene; assorted Renaissance plays and poetry; Troilus and Criseyde and appropriate secondary reading (e.g. Boethius' Consolation of Philosophy); collected works of Robert Henryson; two essays for 0th week
    Christmas vac in second year: Paradise Lost; assorted Restoration plays and poetry; The Book of Margery Kempe; essay for 0th week
    Easter vac in second year: enough reading to give a working familiarity with all of the Romantic poets; novels by Fielding, Richardson and the Gothic novelists; various language-based works; two essays and a commentary for 0th week

    Summer vac before third year: entire works of Shakespeare; Austen's canon; criticism on Austen; essay for 0th week

    It's perfectly manageable - but basically what I'm trying to highlight is that you can expect a lot of work in the holidays!

    (Original post by Mathlete91)
    That I would hate my course and end up wanting to drop out every single day.
    If you feel like that now, why not change courses, as long as you like the uni, that is? Provided you've got through any preliminary exams reasonably well, you should be able to do it - and there are plenty of options open to you, if you got in for Maths. Sorry you're having an awful time - please do think about switching; it's horrible to be here studying a course you don't enjoy. Hope things work out for you!
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    (Original post by *pitseleh*)
    Hm.. vacation work from first year onwards has looked a little like this:

    Summer vac before first year: around 20 Victorian novels; essay for 0th week
    Christmas vac in first year: the whole of the Canterbury Tales and Malory; commentary for 0th week
    Easter vac in first year: Hardy's canon (including poems); essay for 0th week

    Summer vac before second year: The Faerie Queene; assorted Renaissance plays and poetry; Troilus and Criseyde and appropriate secondary reading (e.g. Boethius' Consolation of Philosophy); collected works of Robert Henryson; two essays for 0th week
    Christmas vac in second year: Paradise Lost; assorted Restoration plays and poetry; The Book of Margery Kempe; essay for 0th week
    Easter vac in second year: enough reading to give a working familiarity with all of the Romantic poets; novels by Fielding, Richardson and the Gothic novelists; various language-based works; two essays and a commentary for 0th week

    Summer vac before third year: entire works of Shakespeare; Austen's canon; criticism on Austen; essay for 0th week
    Damn. Reading all this gives me the urge to do an English Lit degree
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    (Original post by Andy the Anarchist)
    Do less seriously, you'd be better off reading around the subject. A levels are hoop jumping exercises.

    surely you'd need to do the work to get the best grades possible to get into oxford.... you can read around the subject and work hard

    a levels aren't too bad, but when you're doing six like me and Skippy are, it becomes a case of managing your workload. skills like that are useful for real life

    oh and my sister is at cambridge doing medicine (not oxford i know) and got 100 in almost all her a level and is getting a 1st, so it's probably just whether you are really determined to work
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    Wow, this is a good, but overall rather depressing thread... I was at Oxford for one year only (MSt in English) but what I've read here makes me realise that undergraduate work can be way more overwhelming than graduate work, which is stressful as well but perhaps easier to go through, since you get to choose, and therefore enjoy, almost everything you have to do. Hang in there people, it gets better afterwards!

    As a foreigner, I'd say that I wish I'd been told that you pretty much can't smoke anywhere in college, that porters can be intrusive at times, and that you can't buy sweet wine anywhere for under £15...

    Perhaps it'd be worth sharing awesome experiences at Oxford as well? Just a thought.
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    Yeah, someone start a thread about good stuff. You're all unsettling me.
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    (Original post by FlobberDobber)
    surely you'd need to do the work to get the best grades possible to get into oxford.... you can read around the subject and work hard

    a levels aren't too bad, but when you're doing six like me and Skippy are, it becomes a case of managing your workload. skills like that are useful for real life

    oh and my sister is at cambridge doing medicine (not oxford i know) and got 100 in almost all her a level and is getting a 1st, so it's probably just whether you are really determined to work
    Tbh, Andy is right really. Until the day that Oxford make the offer A*A*A* with 100% UMS over all, it's more important to a) have a life and b) read round the subject. Independent learning and life skills are important and all that jazz but at the end of the day your sister getting a 1st now probs has very little to do with getting almost 100% in everything. The fact is that if you've got that mentality at A Level and come to Oxford or Cambridge and can't shake it off, you're gonna make yourself pretty miserable!
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    (Original post by FlobberDobber)
    surely you'd need to do the work to get the best grades possible to get into oxford.... you can read around the subject and work hard

    a levels aren't too bad, but when you're doing six like me and Skippy are, it becomes a case of managing your workload. skills like that are useful for real life

    oh and my sister is at cambridge doing medicine (not oxford i know) and got 100 in almost all her a level and is getting a 1st, so it's probably just whether you are really determined to work
    Please don't imply that I'm not determined to work. I've been producing work of a high 2.1/1st quality all year, got a first in my first collection, and got full marks in 7 A level papers out of 24, with 90%+ in virtually all the others, including getting one of the top 10 History A level marks in the country.

    What I am going to tell you is that having virtually 100% UMS A levels (as opposed to merely As) will do nothing for getting you into Oxford, particularly if you have to spend so much time working to achieve them. It is no joke to say that first year at Oxford is at least double, if not more work than you will ever get at A level. If you are spending so long working on your A levels now you will die at Oxford, because there simply isn't the time to deal with such a workload if you already spend that long on A levels.

    With that in mind, it is far better that you complete your A levels adequately (get As) and find time for a social life to keep yourself sane and not turn into a recluse, and to read around the subject. It is only when you get to university you realise how limited A levels are, and how they prioritise regurgitation over critical thought. Tutors do not want to know if you have read the A level textbook inside out, they want to know how you think and how you apply yourself to the unfamiliar, something you will be able to better demonstrate if you do more than simply your A levels 10 hours per day.
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    Ah well i want to go to cambridge anyway xD
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    A new thought:

    That even if you spend three years in Oxford and have a scholar's gown for some or all of that time, this does not mean you will be able to become an extra in a Harry Potter film :no: :cry: :no:

    :nopity:
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    brilliant thread <3 i'm considering whether to take english at oxford but i'm the kind of person who really likes having a life and i'm a little lazy, i don't work as hard as i should in favour of slobbing in front of come dine with me or something, would the workload for english at oxford kill me? by the looks of that holiday reading list above, it might.

    also, is there very little focus on modern english then?

    and i know it's a little irrelevant, but what other universities did you oxford englishers like before you accepted oxford? i'm a little scared i'll choose the oxford course (on the crazy chance i get in) over others that i would have liked a lot more ie. flexible, modern.

    thank you so much
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    (Original post by griffle)
    brilliant thread <3 i'm considering whether to take english at oxford but i'm the kind of person who really likes having a life and i'm a little lazy, i don't work as hard as i should in favour of slobbing in front of come dine with me or something, would the workload for english at oxford kill me? by the looks of that holiday reading list above, it might.

    also, is there very little focus on modern english then?

    and i know it's a little irrelevant, but what other universities did you oxford englishers like before you accepted oxford? i'm a little scared i'll choose the oxford course (on the crazy chance i get in) over others that i would have liked a lot more ie. flexible, modern.

    thank you so much
    I think most English students manage to have very busy social lives, so I guess it's a matter of whether or not you're able to concentrate and work hard when you need to. As I've said before, you don't need to work for twelve hours a day, but if you're the kind of person who struggles with self-motivation in general, you might find it hard. The reading lists really aren't that much work, as long as you like reading! Reading a poem like "The Faerie Queene" might be an effort, but even so, I don't really think of reading as work.

    Focus on modern literature - not much. Most people study modern literature in their first year (so spending approximately a term on it), and then that's it. I think you might have more flexibility and get to focus on modern writers in your third year, but I don't know much about the course at that stage, so I might be wrong.

    The other universities I applied to were UCL, King's, Queen Mary and Royal Holloway, and I was accepted by all of them except UCL. I didn't realise how limited the Oxford course was before I applied, and I always thought I wanted something much more flexible (like the Queen Mary course), but now I'm here, I'm actually quite glad I'm doing something more traditional. If I'd gone to another university, I might have been able to avoid certain areas of literature altogether, which isn't such a good thing, really. I like the way you're sort of forced to cover everything at Oxford. You do get some choice, but at the same time, you couldn't get away with avoiding 200 years of literature, which is probably just as well.
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    (Original post by Sooz2471)
    Wow, this is a good, but overall rather depressing thread... I was at Oxford for one year only (MSt in English) but what I've read here makes me realise that undergraduate work can be way more overwhelming than graduate work, which is stressful as well but perhaps easier to go through, since you get to choose, and therefore enjoy, almost everything you have to do. Hang in there people, it gets better afterwards!

    As a foreigner, I'd say that I wish I'd been told that you pretty much can't smoke anywhere in college, that porters can be intrusive at times, and that you can't buy sweet wine anywhere for under £15...

    Perhaps it'd be worth sharing awesome experiences at Oxford as well? Just a thought.
    I thought you were a visiting graduate and did your MA at UCL? Or have I got you confused with somebody else?
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    (Original post by hobnob)
    I thought you were a visiting graduate and did your MA at UCL? Or have I got you confused with somebody else?
    I may have asked a question about my application to UCL on the postgrad forum a few months ago, perhaps that's what got you confused? I was a visiting graduate doing the MSt last year, but I'm from the Sorbonne.
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    (Original post by Sooz2471)
    I may have asked a question about my application to UCL on the postgrad forum a few months ago, perhaps that's what got you confused? I was a visiting graduate doing the MSt last year, but I'm from the Sorbonne.
    Oh, right. I know you did your undergraduate degree in France, but for some reason I thought you had then gone to London.:confused: Never mind, then.

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