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    I would just like to say that if Cambridge have got to a point where people have to dredge up so-called 'roller-coaster letters' as a point of complaint, then congratulations are in order for having made the admissions process so smooth that only such extremely petty points of dispute remain.
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    Sorry if this is a little off-topic but I wonder whether Admissions Tutors make an attempt to judge the amount of parental input that some students get in the applications process? Of course it's hard to quantify, but as this thread demonstrates, many parents become very involved and personally I think it has more influence than type of school.

    I would say I was relatively low-key in my involvement when my daughter applied two years ago, but I took an interest and was keen for her to get in. We spent hours chatting about the topics on her personal statement which didn't come up, but I also recorded an earnest documentary series related to her subject. She didn't watch it until the night before the interview (tore herself away from Come Dine With Me!) and as a result was able to talk intelligently about a turbulent area of the world she had known nothing about two days before. i have no idea if it clinched her getting a place, but I'm sure my input helped her focus on her application. Anecdotally, I know of a history applicant who was coached extensively by her (history teacher) parents, and of some very clever children who applied after good AS results (usually to Kings because they'd heard of it) with no parental guidance at all. The history applicant got in, the others had mixed fortunes.

    I'd actually be interested to know how many Cambridge students are the sons and daughters of teachers or academics who know the system and have plenty of time to prepare their offspring - although there's obviously a limit to the number of statistics you can gather!

    As I said before I know it's hard to quantify, and you make valiant efforts to ensure the application system is fair, but I just wondered if it's anything Admissions Tutors ever discuss?
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    (Original post by parentlurker)
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    Thanks for your further points, I'll do my best to respond.

    1) Differences between colleges. I suppose it depends what one regards as significant in this context. The University average is around 26% and 15 of the 25 colleges fall within 3% either side and 18 within 4%. Given the number of colleges involved and that this includes data for around 80,000 applicants (five years' worth of applications), I do not think it reveals any major imbalance. The figures also do not suggest that 'targeting' of particular colleges by schools 'in the know' works. Your chances of getting an offer for Cambridge having applied to Homerton, for instance, are 27.35%, whereas for applicants at Clare they are 27.75%. Given the fact that Homerton is (wrongly) thought of as an 'easy' college and Clare a 'hard' college to get into, this would seem to suggest that our pooling system, while not perfect by any means, does the job reasonably well of mitigating college choice.

    2) Interviews: You are absolutely correct, of course, in stating that it is possible to judge what factors correlate with degree performance and Cambridge has done a massive amount of research into this and published it freely (unlike other universities) which has helped both to inform and to explain our admissions processess.

    It is only possible to do this, however, with quantitative data (UMS, GCSE results, A*s at A Level, TSA, BMAT, IB, STEP etc.) but interviews are not quantitative and cannot be treated as such effectively for research purposes. Although each interview is given a score out of ten, this is, by its very nature, a subjective judgement and scores from different people do not always mean the same. I am not a statistician (I'm a historian) but I can work out that trying to use interview scores in Admissions research in the same way as other factors is not scientifically sound.

    Given all this, of course, there is an argument for getting rid of interviews altogether for which I think there are two important rejoinders that I want to make here. First, all our admissions research which calculates correlations between various data and outcomes at Cambridge also include interview performance silently within the data. Everyone at Cambridge has been interviewed and, generally, done well enough in the interview for us to consider that they are suited to the Cambridge course.

    Secondly, the interview always us to see things face to face that aren't evident on paper. There are some outcomes that may not be outstanding on paper but are outstanding for the person involved. Interview allows us the chance to spot potential and to give people the opportunity of studying at Cambridge when otherwise their paper application might not make them stand out from the pack. Take someone, for instance, with a high 80s or low 90s average from a mediocre to poor educational background. We get a lot of applicants who fall into this bracket - if we purely used a quanititative approach, hardly any of them would get offers, but the interview allows them the chance to show us something else. Such a person may not go on to get a first, but if they get a 2.1 from Cambridge it may change their lives in a much more profound way than it would if we offered the place to someone who was taught very well at a very good school to get good grades and who went on to get a solid 2.1 from Cambridge.

    You are absolutely right that 'A 30 minute interview is a poor way to select young people who are still undergoing significant changes'. If we used it on its own it certainly would be. One could say the same about GCSE results or AS results, people are undergoing signficiant changes at 16 and 17 and people develop at different rates. The whole purpose of our admissions policies is to get as much information as possible before we make the decision. We are well aware of the dangers of over-reliance on interviews and work hard to minimise this at every stage of our process. Our interviews are far from perfect and there may be ways that we can look at at trying to even out the differences across colleges in the style and content of interviews but they remain an important part of the process but only part of it.

    3) Applicant pages: Applicants are directed to applicant pages via weblinks in emails sent to them. You are right that it is important for us not to assume what applicants do and do not know and for us to be as clear as possible. We endeavour to be so and there is a duty on us to be so. We are not solely responsible, however, applicants are also responsible for themselves. As the old saying goes 'one can take a horse to water...' One can see evidence of it on TSR to some extent when people ask a question on a thread that has been answered recently or is at the top of the thread. They simply haven't taken the effort to read things. In no way am I trying to say that most applicants are like this, most aren't and have read and absorbed the information that they need but others have not and, while sometimes this is our fault for not making it clear, on other occasions it is not, it is theirs.

    4) Open days: Accommodation for Open days is free where it is available, though I concede that it could be better advertised on college websites.

    5) Interviews and overnight stays: Our processes are quite different from Oxford. Unlike there, where an overnight stay is part of the process, we do our best to ensure that students do not need to stay in Cambridge overnight. Given that there are, consiequently, very many more students in Oxford it is necessary for colleges there to put on events, it is all part of their idea that one can sample a bit of what being at Oxford is like.

    Cambridge is not a 'stuffy' place and every talk that I and my colleagues give to prospective students emphasises the vast array of extra-curricular activities that are available to our students and when they are here we encourage them to partake in a 'normal' social life. There is, however, a time to play and a time to work - the interviews are a serious business ad we treat them as such. I wouldn't criticise a college that puts on events in the evening for those staying overnight but not doing so doesn't mean that we are stuffy. Current students are often around and plenty of 'non-organised' socialising takes place.

    6) Feedback. I can see the force of your argument and it's something I'm happy to bring up for discussion. As I say, for the reasons I have outlined I would tend to fall on the other side to you but I would certainly not object f the University decided to write to students as a matter of course.

    7) Practicals: Yes, we are aware of the differences in outcomes in practical exams and look most closely at the written elements of science exams.
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    (Original post by charles98)
    Hi, I was fortunate enough to receive a conditional offer in maths, but I just have a couple of questions out of curiosity:
    • How well understood are Australian high school results, especially considering the variance (despite similar naming conventions) between different states? I submitted my VCE (Victoria) results before offers were released, but one of my friends didn't and received extraordinarily high conditions from his pooled college (he did the HSC in New South Wales): a 98.5 in Physics, Chemistry, Extension 1 Maths and Extension 2 Maths. He unfortunately only achieved a 94 in Physics and Chemistry which, although being a very high result, doesn't meet the conditions of the offer.
    • Additionally, is there any disadvantage in doing overseas interviews? I was on holiday and elected to be interviewed in Cambridge, but three of my friends (including the aforementioned one) were interviewed in Australia and all received S,S conditions for STEP, whereas I only received 1,1. (We all applied for maths by the way hahaha)


    Thanks for your responses

    Charlie
    Hi Charlie

    thanks for your questions. Applications fro Australia have increased by c.50% in the last three years and so we are becoming more familiar with the ATAR and the differences between the states. I think we are pretty confident about the level needed for the overall ATAR. There is a spreadsheet which gives information about individual offers made by colleges in different subjects which helps us calibrate our offers in individual subjects. In broader based exam systems, these individual subjects offer are often very important in ensuring that someone is sufficiently well prepared for the course they want to do.

    There isn't generally a disadvantage to being interviewed overseas, though in Maths it might lead to very stiff offers if they have applied to colleges with an overabundance of talent. ortunately in Maths, a candidate with a very high STEP offer who just misses it will be in a strong position in the Summer Pool.
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    (Original post by Christ's Admissions)
    I am sorry to hear that you were unsuccessful, I am afraid that a lot of people are even with very high predictions. There has been quite a long discussion on the thread about private vs state schools, so I'll add my thoughts here rather than reply to each post individually.

    As has been pointed out, there is no state school quota. We have a target that 61-63% of our UK intake should come from state schools. This was calculated very carefully to reflect national achievement of our offer levels. Around 60% of those achieving A*AA and above are from the state sector and so it is only right that our intake should aim to reflect the national picture.

    In the 2013 admissions round (the last for which full data is currently available), 29.7% of Home applicants were from Independent schools, while 38.6% of entrants were from Independent schools.

    We tend to get it in the neck from both sides of the debate and our figures are open to use and abuse by people wanting to show bias one way or the other. From our perspective, however, we just want to teach good people and are prepared to look for them in Basingstoke, Bejing or Bradford. When making decisions, we are going to take into account all the information we have about that student, including the educational context from which they come.

    We are not bias but we do discriminate in the original and non-perjoative sense of the word - in that we recognise the different backgrounds from which people have applied to Cambridge and make careful judgements about their applications and their potential. Although we have a lot of data to help us, it is ultimately a human decision and these are prone to error. We will not always get things right, there are lots of people who get turned away who culd have done really well here had they got the chance and equally there are people whom we admit who, on reflection, properly should not have been admitted. But while we are not perfect, we do our best to ensure that we make the best and fairest decision possible given all the information that we have in front of us at the time at which we make the decision.
    Out of interest does this mean that you should in a purely rhetorical sense have targets to admit a higher proportion of private school students for sciences subjects as with the standard offer being A*A*A of the those achieving above this grade threshold surely a larger proportion would come from the independent sector than the proportions for A*AA students? Taking this to an extreme the average grades of successful applicants are nearly 3A*'s in sciences and taking the above argument surely this means you should base your suggested targets off the proportions at this level which correct me if I'm wrong would have been even more biased towards the independent sector?

    Surely admissions should be purely meritocratic and such redundant guidelines should not exist?

    But I'm probably biased having gone to an independent school on a scholarship and thus been on the wrong side of any positive discrimination present in the system.








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    (Original post by Goods)
    But I'm probably biased having gone to an independent school on a scholarship and thus been on the wrong side of any positive discrimination present in the system.
    Yeah, I feel there should be a special kind of flag for this. People assume I'm a rich and dandy spoilt brat who's been spoon fed from the age of like 3. When in reality it was just a scholarship for sixth form.
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    (Original post by Christ's Admissions)
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    Could you ask Oxford to create a similar thread? There are several things I would like to tell them.

    (Cambridge looks more student-friendly on several points. )
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    (Original post by Josb)
    Could you ask Oxford to create a similar thread? There are several things I would like to tell them.

    (Cambridge looks more student-friendly on several points. )
    They could. They haven't.

    This thread is the work of a particularly friendly and diligent admissions tutor at Christ's college and as far as I'm aware its completely off his own back, he was at corpus(?) before and did the same thing there.


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    (Original post by Josb)
    Could you ask Oxford to create a similar thread? There are several things I would like to tell them.

    (Cambridge looks more student-friendly on several points. )
    Try asking clh_hilary...

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    (Original post by jneill)
    Try asking clh_hilary...

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    I don't have questions, I just want to give feedback to Oxford.


    (Original post by Goods)
    They could. They haven't.

    This thread is the work of a particularly friendly and diligent admissions tutor at Christ's college and as far as I'm aware its completely off his own back, he was at corpus(?) before and did the same thing there.


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    I see, thanks to him.
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    (Original post by inuni14)
    Another parent of an unsuccessful applicant. I want to raise one area of admission procedure may need seriously consideration for improvement. That is how Cambridge select applicants for interview, especially calling oversea applicant (residing and studying outside UK) to attend Cambridge interview. For Oxford, they will carefully select applicants for interview, and so there is a genuine chance of getting an offer when you got an interview. But for Cambridge, you invite like almost 80% of applicants for interview. With that high %, I believe there is inevitably high number of unsuccessful candidates who have already shown no choice on their paper (or unsuitable) to Cambridge. I don't see the reason why Cambridge would still want to meet so many applicants whereas Oxford will make up their better mind in selecting their truly wanted candidates for their interview.

    Even worst for oversea applicant like my daughter, she has applied Architecture at King's. She has requested for oversea interview option in her application. Later, King's sent email to ask her if she could attend personally an Cambridge interview. And specific stating in the email that there is very few successful offer if only attending overseas interview for her subject. With this email interview invitation and statement, we seriously thought that my daughter has a strong application (at least) on paper and good chance of getting an offer if we go Cambridge interview. So she went UK for interview at King's. But the 2 interviews were really like a causal talk and ran uneventful. Unfortunately, she didn't get an offer, not even been pooled. We then requested for feedback from King's and stated our question specifically why they invited her for a Cambridge interview. They gave their feedback simply saying that my daughter was unfit to Cambridge course. But didn't go into detail of where how unfit she is (or how bad in interview)? As you have suggested before, if applicant is strong on paper but weak in interview, she at least worth given a chance pooling or receiving a higher offer! I still don't get the idea why King's asking her to spend all that money and time to just attend those 2 30-min interview for nothing.

    My suggestion is DON"T invite applicants for interview when you are not interested in offering them. It just waste their money, time and emotional fluctuation. Take Oxford's practice (or other top universities), select applicants carefully and only invite those you are truly interested. Most people in TSR know getting a Cambridge's interview is NOTHING. They all know almost every applicants got interviews (cool joke). Why you have to do that? Can't Cambridge be more serious in selection of interview.

    Thank you for reading this.
    I am sorry to hear that your daughter was unsuccessful. obviously, I can't comment in detail on her case but in general Architecture is a subject where we encourage overseas candidates to come to England because of the importance of the portfolio in making an assessment of the strength of the candidate.

    On the general point, we do invite fewer people than we used to to interview now, epsecially where we have UMS data from AS Levels and there are arguments to be had about whether this is a fairer system than Oxford's route of testing. The costs issue is one we need to bear in mind, and we try hard not to invite people who have no prospect of gaining an offer, but we also want to ensure that we give as many people as possible the chance of securing a place.
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    (Original post by PendaMercia)
    You have kindly pointed out in a number of places in this thread that feedback is not given by the admissions tutors to offer holders, which given the number of the letters you are writing to those who have rejections, I can fully understand. However, my daughter has an offer for which it would be helpful to receive feedback. Her offer is Pre-U D2 D2 D2 in Economics, History and Geography to read law. In terms of UCAS tariff points that equates to 435 points compared to 420 points for an A*A*A* offer, 400 points for an A*A*A offer and 380 points for the typical offer in law. She pointed out that in the statistics published by the Admissions Office for the 2013 cycle, Cambridge only published acceptances up to 420 UCAS tariff points.

    As my daughter's offer is three levels above the typical offer, compounded further by the fact that subjects such as Economics and History are so subjective as to make the attainment of a D2 grade something of a lottery, she feels her offer is somewhat extreme. An offer which is one level above the typical offer is par for the course, two levels above the typical offer would no doubt have some justification of some sort, but three levels above the typical offer feels tantamount to a rejection.

    I fully appreciate why the policy exists of not giving feedback to offer holders, but would it not be reasonable for those with the most extreme offers to also be offered some kind of explanation?
    Many congratulations to your daughter on her offer. As has been said, we ignore UCAS points in our offers. I have given some general reasons why a student might receive a higher offer in some of my other posts, but in cases where the offer is significantly higher than the 'typical' offer it is not unreasonable to try to find out a bit more as to why the college has made the offer. The college may not provide more information (it is their preogative to give what offers they like) but it is possible that they might. The best way to do this is to get the school to approach the college rather than the student or parent as colleges are more prepared to discuss things informally and explain their reasons. I have done this for a couple of students where tough offers have been made - not to change the offer but to give a bit more context.

    I hope this is helpful and best of luck to your daughter in making her offer.
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    (Original post by parentlurker)
    If PendaMErcia's child is aiming for Maths they have STEP offers as well as A level - and the offers are often very high indeed. About half the mathmos either don't take up or fail to meet their offer. The system for mathmos is quite brutal and perhaps Cambridge should be setting its own admission exams at an earlier stage rather than rejecting so many after A level.
    Well, we did used to have a separate exam for all subjects but dropped it after years of criticism that it favoured certain types of candidate who could prepare for it.

    STEP is hard, that is the point of it because Maths at Cambridge is hard, and everyone who applies for Maths at Cambridge goes into the process knowing what it is. There is a significant advantage for us (and for offer holders) in students taking STEP when they do rather than earlier in the process. By it being taken in the summer, they have had a chance to do all the modules necessary for STEp and for Maths at Cambridge and we can judge them on their performance as close as possible to the time of admissions. The University provides a lot of support for students taking STEP who do not receive help from their school.

    Given that STEP is the best indicator for performance at Cambridge out of any indicator for any subject by quite some distance, I am afraid there is no way that we are going to get rid of it.
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    (Original post by whatacrydonnie)
    I applied to Christ's and got rejected, unfortunately, but they handled the entire admissions process very well. I knew exactly what was happening and when, which was very reassuring. A girl I know applied to Jesus and had no idea when application outcomes were sent out - she thought she'd be contacted on the day of Oxford outcomes! Maybe there should be a univeristy-wide blanket email after interviews are completed outlining the decisions process, like Christ's sent out?
    It is a good idea for candidates to be contacted in this way. I think it is best coming from their individual college but it would undoubtedly help applicants if all colleges did this. I am sorry that your application to Christ's was unsuccessful but am glad you thought we handled the process well, thank you! Best of luck in your other applications.
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    (Original post by alcibiade)
    For EU students, the conditions given are relatively high, on a par with those required in the A-levels, many of which are also surpassed. From my d's experience in France, with a French (i.e. not international) BAC, she had to get 16 (read A*) in 2 STEM subjects and 16 overall. That is the 99th percentile. It made her entire life a race to prepare for these exams.
    We do give tough offers for those outside the British system (the ones within the British system are no walk in the park either!). It is necessary for us to know that we are getting the very best people from these systems because they will need to adapt to a degree that it not designed to follow on directly from their system but from A Levels and because, for many of them, they will be doing that degree in a language which is not their mother tongue. That does make life toughfor them but I hope they feel it is worth it afterwards.
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    (Original post by MistySmith)
    But no such ''necessary pooling'' exists for international applicants, I presume? While I fully understand that it is hard to create the same criteria to put international applicants with a variety of different qualifications in the Winter pool, it seems rather unfair that only UK applicants should have this chance (if that is indeed the case, of which I am not sure).
    Just to give an example, I have applied to Pembroke and received a straight rejection after my interviews, even thought my grades (the high school transcript) were perfect (and by perfect I mean 100% of what I could have achieved) and I was predicted to achieve 100% in my final examinations. So even thought apparently I must have royally tanked my interviews, it would have been nice to be put in the Winter pool based on my grades, not just on the decision of the college I have applied to.


    Sorry for posting in this thread as my comment is not directly connected to Christ's admissions, but perhaps Cambridge as a whole could give this some thought Thank you for reading!
    I am sorry to hear that your application was unsuccessful. There is a compulsory pooling criterion for those interviewed overseas, which is a score of 8 out of 10 in their interview. This ensures that those applicants who do very well in overseas interviews are given another look if their original college decides not to offer to them.

    The compulsory pooling criterion for British qualifications and the IB are in place because we have thousands and thousands of data points of information about the correlation between performance in these exams and at Cambridge. While we have good information about the necessary grades to study at Cambridge, we simply don't have as much information for us to be confident about compulsory pooling criteria for each and every examination system.

    Compulsory pooling is very important to us to ensure fairness but it is the stuff that keep Admissions Tutors and Co-ordinators awake at night, worrying that we have missed someone out who should be in the Pool. I would fear for our sanity if we added in criterion for dozens of other systems.

    A final point to make, our criteria for exam performance are solely based on grades and marks achieved and not on predictions. While we have the transcripts for overseas candidates, for the vast majority who apply they are applying with predicted grades in their final exams and not achieved ones.
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    (Original post by Blue Cat)
    I am the parent of a first year Cambridge student - he fortunately received a direct offer last year and did not have to endure the pool. Your "Ask an admission tutor" threads were very helpful in demystifying the process - so a rather belated "Thank you".

    Having seen the process last year and watched the various threads this year, I have some comments:

    Pooling system
    The pooling system has been improved - it seems to have been much smoother this year but there are a few things to be ironed out - and I may be repeating other comments:

    Emails should be the preference form of communication and there must be a day on which all offers and rejections go out to all applicants. Some applicants this year waited a week for an offer or rejection (not including the small number of medicine applicants still waiting for a decision). I can't imagine what the waiting applicants and their families went through. The applicants are by-and-large 18 years old and feel that their whole future rests on this decision. The failure of some colleges to recognise this is cruel.

    Offer communications should clearly say what they are (the word "offer" in the subject line?). There should no "roller coaster" communications.

    Offer conditions
    From what I can see, more "hard" offers have been made this year - 3 or 4 A* offers and, in particular, Magdalene seems to have given a 3 A* offer to all the science offer holders who have posted on these threads. You have explained the idea that some variation is appropriate in some cases but great care must be taken. Making a higher offer "standard", which it seems Magdalene has done, is unfair. From what I can see, Magdalene did not warn applicants that this year they were making 3 A*offers standard - the applicants could have applied to another college had they known. Certainly applicants for Engineering have fair warning that your college and a number of others may ask for STEP and they can choose to apply elsewhere.

    My particular concern about these high offers is that they are potentially discriminatory. Care must be taken in giving them to ensure that there is no bias but the other aspect is the effect on those with these high offers. They may choose not to "firm" Cambridge, feeling that the pressure to achieve a much higher offer than expected is too much (and that they are less "worthy" candidates because they have been given higher offers). It seems to me that those most likely to be put off in these circumstances will be those who are less self confident (and it is pretty well documented that young women tend to be less confident about their abilities than young men) and those whose schools or parents are less able to support them in achieving such high offers (more likely to be those at state schools). I am aware that many Cambridge students exceed their offers, even the very hard offers, but those statistics will not necessarily reassure the less confident holder of a hard offer. Careful monitoring is needed.

    General information
    Colleges should be encouraged to be much more open with prospective applicants. My particular gripe is the difficulty we had in trying to find out the room and meal charges from some colleges - they behaved as if this was an unreasonable request and that no one had ever had the temerity to ask before. Their responses were frequently quite unhelpful. And the costs DO vary considerably.

    Thank you for asking for feedback.
    Thank you for your comments and I am glad that the threads last year were helpful. Providing I can persuade my college to stump up the cash for being an official representative here, I will be running more threads this year.

    Pooling system

    I do think this year's arranegments have been an improvement on previous years but I agree that we need to tighten up the way and timing of when we communicate with applicants.

    Communication, whether by email, letter or both, needs to be clear and some wording used was certainly ambiguous about whether students were getting offers or interviews from the Pool but I am not sure how we can completely eliminate the 'roller-coaster' for those made offers from the Pool. Whether we put it in the title or not (and as Mini Me says in her post, there are reasons not to do this), such candidates will inevitably undergo a 'roller-coaster' of emotions because of the disappointment of not getting into their first choice college but the excitment of getting an offer from another college.


    Offer levels

    I think it would be wise not to read too much into the small sample here on TSR: around 4,000 offers will have been made and Magdalene will have made scores of offers in the Sciences. That said, I agree that there needs to be co-ordination abotu the 'typical' offer and colleges are not supposed to raise these unilaterally.

    There is, however, a problem with the Sciences which is caused by the combination of Maths and Further Maths. I have touched on this in this thread and on other ones, but because there is no standard way of combing Maths and Further Maths, it makes it hard to make a 2 A* offer to students who are doing Maths and Further Maths as two of their A Levels which treats everyone the same. As there is no standard way for schools to do this there is consequerntly no standard way for us to deal with it that does not seem to prejudice one group or another. What I have done for Science subjects where Maths is a very important part (Maths, Engineering, Physical Nat Sci), is to make 2 A* offers but with Maths not included in the A*s. This, in reality means a 3 A* offer for these candidates (as many have or are one module away from an A* in Maths) but it is does treat everyone the same. Other colleges may have adopted a 3 A* policy but allowed Maths to be included. We are dealing with a problem that is not of our making hich makes it harder to come up with a workable and agreed solution.
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    (Original post by Mini-Me)
    Sorry I just wish to disagree with some posters about some points that I wish for you to keep the same.

    I am a person who worries a lot before receiving results etc. Because I was in a gap year and the only person I knew applying to Cambridge, I was able to ensure I didn't learn the date that responses were sent any more than January time, so didn't spend the time before extremely worried and have a very sleepless night. I feel reminding applicants when the date is regularly would upset those who simply don't want to know. The date is clearly shown on the Cambridge website and the websites of all Colleges, so applicants should be easily able to find it out, should they want to.

    Also, I received both a letter and email from Emma. I was out the morning/early afternoon of the response day with a big group of people and received the email on my phone. The layout of this email meant that the subject and summary shown did not tell me the result of my application. If,as someone suggested, the outcome was shown in the subject of the email, I would have found out my result in front of people, something I really didn't want to do, as dealing with rejection would be terrible in public. Because of the layout I was able to wait until I was home alone and open my letter, allowing me to find out my outcome in a situation I was happy to do so.

    Just some points to think about when considering some changes, and thank you for allowing feedback.


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    Thank you for this. It is good to be reminded that there are different opinions about the best way to communicate with applicants and for applicants to receive the news.
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    (Original post by dogwalker)
    Sorry if this is a little off-topic but I wonder whether Admissions Tutors make an attempt to judge the amount of parental input that some students get in the applications process? Of course it's hard to quantify, but as this thread demonstrates, many parents become very involved and personally I think it has more influence than type of school.

    I would say I was relatively low-key in my involvement when my daughter applied two years ago, but I took an interest and was keen for her to get in. We spent hours chatting about the topics on her personal statement which didn't come up, but I also recorded an earnest documentary series related to her subject. She didn't watch it until the night before the interview (tore herself away from Come Dine With Me!) and as a result was able to talk intelligently about a turbulent area of the world she had known nothing about two days before. i have no idea if it clinched her getting a place, but I'm sure my input helped her focus on her application. Anecdotally, I know of a history applicant who was coached extensively by her (history teacher) parents, and of some very clever children who applied after good AS results (usually to Kings because they'd heard of it) with no parental guidance at all. The history applicant got in, the others had mixed fortunes.

    I'd actually be interested to know how many Cambridge students are the sons and daughters of teachers or academics who know the system and have plenty of time to prepare their offspring - although there's obviously a limit to the number of statistics you can gather!

    As I said before I know it's hard to quantify, and you make valiant efforts to ensure the application system is fair, but I just wondered if it's anything Admissions Tutors ever discuss?
    Thank you for your comment. As you say, parental input is very hard to quantify but we do try to think about so-called 'cultural capital'. There used to be a box on the application form which asked for parents' professions. My colleagues from this period tell me it was very helpful in judging culltural capital, more so even than the type of school they went to, but was removed because it was thought to be an inappropriate question to ask. Whether this removal came from internal or external pressure I do not know.
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    (Original post by Goods)
    Out of interest does this mean that you should in a purely rhetorical sense have targets to admit a higher proportion of private school students for sciences subjects as with the standard offer being A*A*A of the those achieving above this grade threshold surely a larger proportion would come from the independent sector than the proportions for A*AA students? Taking this to an extreme the average grades of successful applicants are nearly 3A*'s in sciences and taking the above argument surely this means you should base your suggested targets off the proportions at this level which correct me if I'm wrong would have been even more biased towards the independent sector?

    Surely admissions should be purely meritocratic and such redundant guidelines should not exist?

    But I'm probably biased having gone to an independent school on a scholarship and thus been on the wrong side of any positive discrimination present in the system.








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    The target was worked out with the Office for Fair Access (OFFA) in exchange for raising the tuition fee when our standard offer was A*AA. When our agreement with OFFA is renewed I expect that we will look at it again.

    The Sciences is pretty state heavy at Cambridge and it is in the Arts & Humanities where many successful private school applicants are to be found so I am not sure how much of a difference changing the offer level in Sciences will make to such calculations.

    Should admissions be purely meritocratic? Ideally yes but one person's idea of 'fair' very quickly clashes with someone else's. Should we purely use UMS without context or, if we do use context, how much should it be and how do we judge the difference in two candidates' educational contexts? Once you get into the details a clear picture fades away very fast. We do our best to make our processes as fair as we can but, as is clear from a cursory glance at the newspapers, Oxbridge admissions is a political football which all sides feel is weighted against them.
 
 
 
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