Will I crack under the pressure at Cambridge? Watch

anoushka1
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#21
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#21
(Original post by Tortious)
Erm...hard to say, really. It's all interesting stuff but I'm going back over my notes now to revise and I'm finding there's loads of background detail that I doubt I'm going to need for the exam. :sigh:

Having said that, it feels like hard work but I don't think it's impossible - I'm not working as productively as I could (I'm on TSR for starters!) so I should still be able to get sorted by the time my exams come around at the end of May. My DoS is brilliant for keeping an eye out for articles - he's writing a new book on tort law at the moment and he's sending us loads of current affairs stuff in case it comes up in the exam. He's so cool.
Hmm yeah talking to undergraduates, they do say that it is very hard but they also enjoy it.

Haha I know TSR is the worst distraction why are the threads so damn entertaining!!! See thats what I love but also terrifies me about Cambridge being able to learn from the leading people in their field but also trying to have an intelligent conversation with them haha hopefully I wont fail with that

I guess you really do have the best resources though!
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A level Az
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#22
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#22
(Original post by VanillaSky)
I'm an offer holder for English at Cambridge, expected to begin my university degree in October of this year. This is a real post, not a made up story. Please be sincere and honest in your response and refrain from making derogatory remarks.

Like most people, it's been my dream to study there...
I stopped reading here and just laughed at your choice of words. Brainwashed by TSR much.

Edit - Sorry I think you've proven that you deserve your place at Cambridge, and if I were you I'd FIRM it and get the grades you need. I'm considering dropping out to apply to Cambridge myself in the next cycle.
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Whiteo
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#23
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#23
I'm sure you'll do absolutely fine as long as you can maintain a steady (high!) level of work.

My bro did English at Selwyn and he had great academic and pastoral support from his English tutors, and from his Tutor.

The atmosphere at Selwyn is lovely, and meeting his friends they seemed unpretentious, welcoming and 'genuine', if that's the right word to use. It has the beautiful surroundings and architecture of some of the grander, older colleges, but is exceptionally personal.

I hope your exams go well!
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chai wallah
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#24
(Original post by Whiteo)
My bro did English at Selwyn and he had great academic and pastoral support from his English tutors, and from his Tutor.
This is exactly the thing - I can't compare from personal experience but I'm pretty damn sure that you'll get better pastoral support at Cambridge than if you chose another university.

This is what sealed it for me - I did consider rejecting my offer but quickly realised that was a bit bonkers, partly because I knew there was only the slimmest of chances that the opportunities for one-on-one or close support at my other potential choices would really compare.

I don't know for sure yet whether this'll be true for me, but I've got my fingers crossed, and ten times more for you - please come, you can do it! :yy:
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A Proper Noun
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#25
I came from a very similar background to you, and graduated recently from Cambridge. I won't lie to you and say it was easy. I found my first term particularly tough but that also stemmed from the culture shock. You clearly have a capacity for independent study since you've done so well at school so if you are passionate about English go for it. The difficulty will be eased by your eagerness for the subject.
Don't forget once you go you aren't trapped. But if you can stay it is definitely a worthwhile experience that you should take up.
Good luck with everything.
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chai wallah
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#26
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#26
(Original post by VanillaSky)
I'm an offer holder for English at Cambridge...
Sorry, when I said 'you' in my last post I meant you, OP!
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aiva
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#27
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#27
Go for it! I bet you do amazing! I love heraring how people that come from a tough upbringing make it to the top like you! Well done, dont know you but im proud of you. x
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Scrubby
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#28
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#28
I'm a little confused as to what your background has to do with your capacity to handle the workload. If anything it might help you. You're more likely to have had to learn independently and overcome the incompetence of some teachers who don't particularly care and classmates who care even less. So I'd say you'd be more prepared for it than most. And if you did feel under pressure there's plenty of help available at Cambridge. If you were concerned about fitting in or about it being so much more different than your background would be relevant. But the workload shouldn't be a reason not to go. Not liking the course, not liking Cambridge or their style of teaching would be reasons not to go. Not the workload.
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Craghyrax
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#29
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#29
(Original post by VanillaSky)
Spoiler:
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I'm an offer holder for English at Cambridge, expected to begin my university degree in October of this year. This is a real post, not a made up story. Please be sincere and honest in your response and refrain from making derogatory remarks.

Like most people, it's been my dream to study there and I could hardly grasp the enormity of the decision when I was accepted. I come from a non-traditional background, growing up in a ****hole in one of the poorest areas of the country, the kind where the majority of the girls in my year group were pregnant mothers in their teens. Most boys would have progressed to the construction industry or some such. When I walk out of my home- where I live on a Council Estate (the majority of the houses/flats here are council homes)- I see drug dealers, unruly young people creating trouble for others in the area, mass unemployment... I couldn't possibly describe to you how much I absolutely want to get out of this place.

The GCSE pass rate at my school was the highest ever- at... 40% and the teachers were mostly crap, probably because they knew most of the students in the class were 'no hopers'. But that's another story. You see, what I'm trying to say is that I've had to work incredibly hard to get to where I am. I've had to overcome an enormous amount of psychological barriers and internal conflict to progress to A levels and have the confidence to apply to the best universities. Over the years, I've become progressively confident and self-motivated but the internal battle remains. I know the academic pressure at Cambridge is going to be incredibly tough, but will I be able to handle it? What is the work load like? As you can appreciate, I've had an unusual upbringing compared to most people who are probably attending Cambridge and desperately don't want to make the wrong university choice. I have offers from London Universities to read English, would I be better off there?
What to expect?
You will be in a competitive environment. There will be other English students in your college and you will probably be a small group who know eachother very well and see an awful lot of eachother. In first year and maybe second you'll have alot of the same work at the same time.
In first year everybody is absolutely paranoid of getting a 2.2. and very stressed. This means that some of the more insecure students do sometimes try and make themselves feel better by trying to make others look bad, or by trying to draw attention to their successes.

You'll be an environment where it is assumed that you're going to get a 2.1. Your exam results will be publicly displayed on classlists in the centre of Cambridge at the end of each year, and your college and course acquaintances will probably take an interest in them.

In supervisions you will sometimes be with another student or two other students, and you may be put on the spot to come out with your view in front of them.

Depending on which department you're in, at the end of each year you'll get a letter telling you which number you came out of your whole yeargroup - a piece of information I really DIDN'T want to know in my first year, but one which was very smugness inducing in second year for me...

There is alot of work, and some points of term you'll be working flatout. It will also seem like your course mates are creaming it and that you're the only one struggling, when that's actually not true and everybody's stressing.

So in short I've been completely honest with you and I've told you the worst, and you know what to expect.


Now to put it in context...
I bet you've faced far tougher challenges in your life already.
I don't believe that Cambridge is any more pressurised than the work place. I've met graduates who say that it is, but I've had alot of work experience myself, and I definitely found Cambridge less stressful than the jobs I had by and large. So whether you see this as good or bad, you should definitely see it as good preparation for the workplace, and also a reality that you'll have to adjust to someday in your life so why not get on with that now?

Finally I think that if you want it bad enough then all of the pressure and stuff is fine, because you have a goal and you have the motivation and enthusiasm to counteract that. It sounds like you do. I certainly found Cambridge stressful.... but it was also a fantastic experience and I would definitely not have gone anywhere else given the choice.
I think if you prepare yourself for the environment I mentioned above, then you can rise above it.

I think the main pressure is in your first year. Some people get over it after a term, some like me struggle with it for a year. But I think it definitely gets much better for the vast majority after your first exams. After that everybody breathes a sigh of relief and has a much more comfortable second year knowing they're not going to get a 2.2. if they do their homework :p:

From what you're saying, do you feel that you're already used to being different from everyone else around you? If you are, then that helps because it will make you stronger if you're able to resist peer pressure and mentality in first year, and stay clearheaded and don't get affected by any competitive students you meet who try to involve you in their insecurities. Also if you're clear about your own reasons for wanting to do the degree, and if you know that all your other alternatives are much less desirable, then that will give you a very good platform for your motivation. FYI I went to an FE college in a bad area and didn't have perfect grades.

I think if you've thought clearly about your aspirations and what you want, then you'll be fine and you'll also probably have a better time and make better use of the opportunity than people who just sort of stumble into Cambridge from their good schools, and then struggle with motivation and with suddenly not getting stellar grades.

Congratulations on your offer - I'm very happy for you And read the sticky 'a week in the life of a Cambridge student' to read personal student examples of what their day to day life here is like.
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overtherainbow
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#30
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#30
i would say a lot of it depends on your personality before you get here- if you are a natural stresshead this place is going to make you much worse- im currently watching people having breakdowns and all the pastoral help in the world wont make a difference if you wont accept it. this said, most people cope and enjoy their time here- the english students i know are only stressed around deadlines, like at any uni.
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Craghyrax
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#31
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I agree with that about personalities. If it helps though, I'm definitely a natural stresshead but I still did fine, got good grades and had a good time.
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comrade_jon
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#32
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#32
Surely the support available at Cambridge is superior to that of the London universities you have offers from? Even if you think that the Cambridge workload is somehow unmanageable, the idea of having one to one/two to one supervision, the close attention paid to your essays in smaller college environments rather than whole universities (remember there will probably be less than 10 English students in your year and college versus many many more at somewhere like UCL etc.) would surely work in your favour.

Congratulations anyway, but that's how I'd see it since I'm doing the largely similar workload History and really it's the close personal attention Cambridge give that to me is its best selling point.
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chrypton
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#33
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#33
I'd say go to Cambridge.
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Craghyrax
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#34
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(Original post by comrade_jon)

Congratulations anyway, but that's how I'd see it since I'm doing the largely similar workload History and really it's the close personal attention Cambridge give that to me is its best selling point.
No you're not :p: You'll have one essay a week. She, like me, will have two to three.
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comrade_jon
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(Original post by Craghyrax)
No you're not :p: You'll have one essay a week. She, like me, will have two to three.
More proof that History is superior to English then haha!
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Craghyrax
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#36
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(Original post by comrade_jon)
More proof that History is superior to English then haha!
I think the general consensus is the reverse: that you're dossers because you have less work and every other subject is more serious and therefore more respectable...

Subject rivalry is absolutely pathetic so I try never endorse that. However I shamefully retain some bitterness because the Historians in my first year took every opportunity to say that my subject was 'a joke' academically, whatever that meant :confused: Only to realise that they spent half their week in the bar, while I spent most of my nights in first year in the library :sigh:
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Zoedotdot
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#37
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(Original post by Craghyrax)
I think the general consensus is the reverse: that you're dossers because you have less work and every other subject is more serious and therefore more respectable...

Subject rivalry is absolutely pathetic so I try never endorse that. However I shamefully retain some bitterness because the Historians in my first year took every opportunity to say that my subject was 'a joke' academically, whatever that meant :confused: Only to realise that they spent half their week in the bar, while I spent most of my nights in first year in the library :sigh:
Last year we had some bet with one of my historian friends that he couldn't do all of his work in a day. He got up at 6 and worked until 2am or something, but he got it all done and actually did pretty well on the essays. I mean, it was kind of impressive, but there isn't a hope in hell that I could get a week's worth of work done in 20 hours (an essay takes 7 hours to plan and write, AFTER I've read at least one novel in a foreign language, and that's only one paper of five!) and I'm also considered to be a dossy arts student, so while he was proud of himself I think he was also sort of sad because he'd just proved that he had far less to do in a week than the rest of us. And he also spent the week really bored because he had no work :p:

That's not to say that History isn't rigorous. It's just different, and the set workload is comparatively small, which gives you much more flexibility for reading around. My other historian friend works incredibly hard and has a strict daily timetable to compensate for the lack of lectures and keep her focused.
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Craghyrax
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(Original post by Zoedotdot)
Last year we had some bet with one of my historian friends that he couldn't do all of his work in a day. He got up at 6 and worked until 2am or something, but he got it all done and actually did pretty well on the essays. I mean, it was kind of impressive, but there isn't a hope in hell that I could get a week's worth of work done in 20 hours (an essay takes 7 hours to plan and write, AFTER I've read at least one novel in a foreign language, and that's only one paper of five!) and I'm also considered to be a dossy arts student, so while he was proud of himself I think he was also sort of sad because he'd just proved that he had far less to do in a week than the rest of us. And he also spent the week really bored because he had no work :p:
Well quite
That's not to say that History isn't rigorous. It's just different, and the set workload is comparatively small, which gives you much more flexibility for reading around. My other historian friend works incredibly hard and has a strict daily timetable to compensate for the lack of lectures and keep her focused.
I'm confused what anybody means by 'rigor' anyway. They kept on going on that PPS wasn't rigorous, but nobody ever substantiated this. I think they've made it up to try and hold onto the reputation of the subject as traditionally academic :p: Because believe me... any social scientist has methodological and philosophy of science standards and procedures flowing out of our ears by the end...

Anyway yeh I really wish we had so few essays, because I felt like a dog on a leash most of the time, and if I'd had a whole week for each essay I would have used that time to do more reading and really get into it more. No question. I know historians who do, do that, so it's not like having less work means everyone will take that as excuse to take shortcuts.
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comrade_jon
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(Original post by Craghyrax)
I think the general consensus is the reverse: that you're dossers because you have less work and every other subject is more serious and therefore more respectable...

Subject rivalry is absolutely pathetic so I try never endorse that. However I shamefully retain some bitterness because the Historians in my first year took every opportunity to say that my subject was 'a joke' academically, whatever that meant :confused: Only to realise that they spent half their week in the bar, while I spent most of my nights in first year in the library :sigh:
I might have been a tad sarcastic... although I prefer the bar part over your library part
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Craghyrax
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(Original post by comrade_jon)
I might have been a tad sarcastic... although I prefer the bar part over your library part
Whatever subject you do, if being in the bar is what you want, you'll be able to do that. It just means making compromises with your work. You can still manage a 2.1. in any Arts subject and prioritise your social life, but it might not be a particularly good 2.1. It's just down to personal choice and approach really.

If you read that sticky with 'week in the life of' accounts you'll see how much it varies by individual.
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