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    Have posted this elsewhere, but would love to get some opinions from Current/recently offered Oxford students. Thanks a lot.

    Ok, this is going to be a relatively long post so if you can't be bothered to read it all stop now :P.

    Well right, where do i start. I'm 17 years old and currently in my second year of college doing my A levels (Young for my year group). Not one to blow my own trumpet but *Toot Toot* i am considered to be very intelligent. Sadly though i have always been incredibly lazy, putting work off, doing a little as i can to get by, relying more on native intelligence than anything else. This was reflected in my GCSE results; (A*ABBBBCCCC). My home situation had been tough during my time at school due to my father being diagnosed with a rare type of cancer, which slowly hacked away at any motivation i had to succeed academically.

    I started college hoping to turn a new leaf, to work hard, achieve academic success, get a placement at Oxford etc etc.

    It was all going well until sadly my father, (who i was incredibly close to) died in December 2008, just before the start of my January exams. The effect this had on me is ineffable. I say this because i couldn't work out how i was meant to feel, i was put in a position where i was looked upon for support by my younger brother and sister, so i guess i didn't really focus upon myself. As expected the January (A/S) exams went terrible, and set me back immensely. I did however strive to pick it all up, to work towards resits in June hoping then i'd achieve the results i wanted.

    However this motivation, this drive, phases in and out. Depression takes over at times, college attendance becomes low, emotions become distant. Despite this i managed to gain the highest results in my year group for Philosophy 99 and 100/100 on the two papers and obviously obtained an A grade AS level. With the other AS level choices i achieved an A in one paper, an failed the other (Due to resit workload). I've just resat the AS papers that i screwed up in June, and they went okay, but not fantastic, as i didn't properly prepare. September till now has been the worst period of my depression, and college became of little importance.

    The University application has been sent off applying for (V500) Philosophy at Durham, Bristol, Edinburgh, Sheffield, Queen's Belfast. (Couldn't face the stress of Oxbridge at the time it was running at college)

    I've received an offer from Queens of BBB which is a nice easy offer, i know it could be achieved with little effort, and would relieve a lot of stress off me this year. No other offers yet, but i i do receive offers of AAA from the top three, i'm not entirely sure i'll be able to achieve these grades this year due to all the extra work from constantly chasing my tail.

    Sometimes I'm certain that intellectual esteem is paramount to me, yet other times i do not, and then i am just lost.

    So my choice really is. Do a third year at college, Fast track two A-levels to build up my academic profile for Oxford. (Sociology and Psychology which i should of taken originally but didn't due to myths of them being 'doss subjects') , round my other A levels up to A's if need be, and then Apply to Oxford (Originally what i wanted to do) and Durham, Bristol, Edinburgh, UCL, this time grades in hand and an improved academic profile. OR;

    Head off to Queen's hopefully convinced that going to a prestigious university is no longer an ambition of mine, and grateful of the low offer and the subsequent easy ride i'll have at college this year.

    Ok, that feels good to get off my chest.

    Help please ?

    PS: As it took a while to write, i didn't check spelling or grammar, so i apologise for any mistakes.

    Thanks.
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    Thing is the A-Level to Oxford isn't really a case of 'you need this many points to qualify' its 'this is how well you can cope in 2 years of study', if you get me.
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    Cambridge has the Cambridge Special Access Scheme - maybe Oxford has something similar?
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    (Original post by Rai)
    Thing is the A-Level to Oxford isn't really a case of 'you need this many points to qualify' its 'this is how well you can cope in 2 years of study', if you get me.
    argh how did you manage to get 89% overall in A2 Maths:eek3: ? I envy you! :p:

    o/t

    you remind me of myself however I still went forward with my aspiration to study at UCL, I now have an interview there on the 22nd. if I'm not successfull I'm going to take a gap year, raise a few moduals and then re apply to Camb/UCL.

    but i'm going to be studying architecture and alot of it's technical abilitity so we're not similar in that sense i guess.
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    Heyy, I've had an offer for Oxford for chemistry dependant on my grades this year and you did right not applying this year, the work load for it is huge. Your reasons seem perfectly valid and I know someone who got an offer from Cambridge of AAB under similar circumstances. If you have your heart set on Oxbridge, I think if you get your head down and explain to them your situation, you have a good chance, best of luck
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    (Original post by Supfresh.)
    Sadly though i have always been incredibly lazy, putting work off, doing a little as i can to get by, relying more on native intelligence than anything else. This was reflected in my GCSE results; (A*ABBBBCCCC).


    However this motivation, this drive, phases in and out.
    Obviously you had extenuating circumstances for the poor AS results and they might well take that into account, but by the passages above, are you deserving of a place?
    Not doubting you are intelligent, but so are pretty much all oxbridge applicants and (forgive me, the passage was unclear on whether you had consideration for the GCSEs) but those aren't very good results.
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    (Original post by Rai)
    Thing is the A-Level to Oxford isn't really a case of 'you need this many points to qualify' its 'this is how well you can cope in 2 years of study', if you get me.
    Yeah i perfectly understand that if someone was to take an extra year simply to improve and apply, it could damage their application. However couldn't my mitigating circumstances cover that?
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    (Original post by JacobM)
    Obviously you had extenuating circumstances for the poor AS results and they might well take that into account, but by the passages above, are you deserving of a place?
    Not doubting you are intelligent, but so are pretty much all oxbridge applicants and (forgive me, the passage was unclear on whether you had consideration for the GCSEs) but those aren't very good results.
    Yeah sorry it's not the most chronological of posts, but yeah my Dad suffered from the cancer all through my secondary school years which impacted on my GCSE's greatly for obvious reasons. My current reference provides special consideration for that too. But yes in terms of deserving a place, despite my past laziness i really would work incredibly hard in the third year to get the best results possible. Otherwise there would be no point at all, i might as well just doss in style at Queens.
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    I'm so so sorry that you had to lose your father. I can't imagine how that must have hurt. I think it sounds like you need a break and a wonderful university experience. I think you should just go to Uni next year and not stay in a situation which is keeping (if not even making) you depressed. I myself have always thought that intellect was paramount to me, but now that the prospect of Oxford stands before me, I am more sure than ever that I want to go to Edinburgh, which has been by 'dream' destination for about a year. Also, I'd prefer the subject at Edinburgh. I also have serious emotional... y'know... I'm unhappy a lot of the time, and I'm also quite inconsistent with my work in school, even though I could do really well if I properly applied myself. One reason I'm struggling so much is the stress I put myself under; a combination of the pressure to get great grades, and also the fact that I really don't like school. I know you aren't me, but I would say leave Oxford to the side and do what's good for yourself. You might well enjoy yourself much more at University if you let yourself have other emphases than just intellectual stuff. I wish you all the best.
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    The eight week terms make Oxbridge the worst univerisites in the country if you suffer from depression; there simply isn't time to be depressed. If you go under for a month, you'll have missed half the term's teaching. Academically, you have to make every week count. And, contrary to popular belief, you have very little control over when depression's going to hit you. There'll be a two week period in your final year when your whole degree will be assessed, and if you can't face doing your exams due to depression you will fail your degree.

    I know a guy with depression who went to Cambridge, and when he had a complete breakdown there the college were less than sympathetic. He was strongly advised to switch universities, but the idea of "failing" Cambridge made him even worse. In the end they awarded him his degree (with no honours I assume), but in my opinion it was a very, very painful way to get an Oxbridge certificate.

    If you want to take another year doing your A levels and go to prestigious university, your extenuating circumstances certainly will count. Personally I would advise against Oxbridge though, just because of the short terms. Maybe look around for universities with reading weeks, as that will further ease the pressure
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    (Original post by goose123)
    The eight week terms make Oxbridge the worst best univerisites in the country if you suffer from depression; the structure is so consistent and all-consuming there simply isn't time the opportunity for you to fall off the radar if you were to be depressed.
    Corrected.

    Actually, I agree with a lot of the points here. If you can't manage consistent motivation then never mind A-levels: how are you going to cope with the steady stream of work at Oxford? As a scientist I wrote 200 000 words over the course of 3 years, at the same time as doing labs and lectures and so on.

    But while some people might struggle with the pressure, my experience - and the experience of one of my best friends too - was that between rowing and doing a science subject we kept our problems under far better control, because there was always an outside force chivvying you and forcing you to face up to your illness if it snuck up on you. If you suffer from depression at any university you'll miss work. But if you do it anywhere else, you can miss a month without anyone knowing. When you're seeing your tutor every week or few days it's a lot easier for problems to be noticed and worked around.
    There'll be a two week period in your final year when your whole degree will be assessed, and if you can't face doing your exams due to depression you will fail your degree.
    Or you'll defer the year, like tens of people do every single year. Right up until you begin your final exam it's possible to withdraw and take the exams a year later.
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    I haven't read all the replies but I'd definitely suggest talking to an admissions tutor before you do anything because I was told / have read so many times that they want you to complete your A levels in 2 years only so going back to college probably wouldn't be the best idea.. If you talk to a tutor they can tell you their opinion in your exact circumstances though..
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    (Original post by Bekaboo)
    Corrected.

    Actually, I agree with a lot of the points here. If you can't manage consistent motivation then never mind A-levels: how are you going to cope with the steady stream of work at Oxford? As a scientist I wrote 200 000 words over the course of 3 years, at the same time as doing labs and lectures and so on.

    But while some people might struggle with the pressure, my experience - and the experience of one of my best friends too - was that between rowing and doing a science subject we kept our problems under far better control, because there was always an outside force chivvying you and forcing you to face up to your illness if it snuck up on you. If you suffer from depression at any university you'll miss work. But if you do it anywhere else, you can miss a month without anyone knowing. When you're seeing your tutor every week or few days it's a lot easier for problems to be noticed and worked around.

    Or you'll defer the year, like tens of people do every single year. Right up until you begin your final exam it's possible to withdraw and take the exams a year later.
    It's not that people didn't notice he was depressed: the reason the college sent him home in the end was because all his friends were so worried about him it was messing up everyone else's work too.

    Also, depression is an illness. It's like breaking your back: it's all very well for people to notice that you're not coming out of your room and going to your tutorials, but joining the rowing team isn't going to do any good. If you're feeling low, throwing yourself into your work or doing a load of exercise are really good coping strategies. Once full blown depression takes over though, either option is going to seem completely pointless.

    Not that it's particularly relevant but the guy I know did retake his final year, and the same thing happened. Some people, clever or not, aren't meant to go to Oxbridge.
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    (Original post by goose123)
    Also, depression is an illness. It's like breaking your back: it's all very well for people to notice that you're not coming out of your room and going to your tutorials, but joining the rowing team isn't going to do any good.
    Depression is a spiral, and for lots of people, myself included (you seem to have conveniently ignored all the personal pronouns in my post) it DOES hit hardest when things seem out of control; when work gets on top of you; when it all seems unmanagable and you feel like drowning. Of course it's a medical disease, but there is a psychological aspect to it. People rarely jump from totally balanced and happy and under control to cutting and drinking and unable to face the daylight with no middle ground.

    Anybody who has what I guess you might call "active depression" (i.e. is in a current state of depression and can't even get out of bed) isn't going to be helped by these things: but missing 50% of an 8 week term in Oxford isn't going to be worse than missing 40% of a 10 week term at another university, and it's either misguided or malicious - but either way unhelpful - to suggest that that's the case. The key thing is how you get back from that, and how sympathetic your academic staff are to the fact.

    It's a well researched fact that people best achieve goals and aims when they have regular milestones and are accountable to somebody else. Losing 4 weeks is no better or worse if you're at Oxford or Bristol - but having somebody around to notice, and to help you find the structure again, and to make up for work you've missed is a helluva lot easier than just being expected to hand in a term's worth of essays for the end of term when nobody even knows you've been ill.
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    In response to those saying it'll be hard to cope: I've only been here a term and a bit, but I have ME and depression (believe me, I know about not being able to get out of bed, heh) and the college have been really good at helping me out. I had to miss a week last term so I had a catch-up tutorial over the Christmas break, and I'm worse this term so the disability office is helping me apply for DSA and college is temporarily paying for my taxis to lectures and classes. I've had extensions when I've been unable to hand in essays, and every tutor I've spoken to about it has been understanding and helpful.

    That said, you still have to be motivated. If I'm feeling even vaguely up to doing some work, I have to do it, even if I'm not entirely in the mood or there's something else I'd rather be doing at the time. I've had deadlines pushed back for essays, but those deadlines are still there, and ultimately I still have prelims at the end of the term (although I've been told that they can be pushed back or I can refresh if need be). That's going to be the case at any university, though it's perhaps worse here as the work moves so quickly (I wouldn't know, though, as I haven't been an undergrad anywhere else). It's a pressured environment so you have to be able to work well in that to some extent.

    Wait until you've got some more offers, OP, and have a think about it then. You can decide after results day whether to decline and reapply, so if I were you I'd wait to see how I'd handled this year before I thought about whether Oxford was worth it. The whole "this is how you can cope in 2 years of study" thing isn't always the case - It took me 3 years to get my A-levels and Oxford were fine with it. Applying's always a risk, though, so it's worth a) contacting an admissions office, as others have said, and b) waiting to see what other offers you get.
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    (Original post by Bekaboo)
    Depression is a spiral, and for lots of people, myself included (you seem to have conveniently ignored all the personal pronouns in my post) it DOES hit hardest when things seem out of control; when work gets on top of you; when it all seems unmanagable and you feel like drowning. Of course it's a medical disease, but there is a psychological aspect to it. People rarely jump from totally balanced and happy and under control to cutting and drinking and unable to face the daylight with no middle ground.

    Anybody who has what I guess you might call "active depression" (i.e. is in a current state of depression and can't even get out of bed) isn't going to be helped by these things: but missing 50% of an 8 week term in Oxford isn't going to be worse than missing 40% of a 10 week term at another university, and it's either misguided or malicious - but either way unhelpful - to suggest that that's the case. The key thing is how you get back from that, and how sympathetic your academic staff are to the fact.

    It's a well researched fact that people best achieve goals and aims when they have regular milestones and are accountable to somebody else. Losing 4 weeks is no better or worse if you're at Oxford or Bristol - but having somebody around to notice, and to help you find the structure again, and to make up for work you've missed is a helluva lot easier than just being expected to hand in a term's worth of essays for the end of term when nobody even knows you've been ill.
    Thanks a lot, your posts have been very helpful.
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    I just got a place at Oxford, having taken two years out after school. I was 20 a month or so before my interview. I was not in a good place at sixth form (read 'complete mess'), but I was always very keen to push myself and aim for a top university. If you are really genuinely keen to aim for the top, I would totally encourage you (if Oxbridge is really what you want) to take a year or two out, reassess your options, maybe talk to your school (and the university) about your chances. If you are happy going to Queen's then great, but the very fact you started this post suggests you might regret settling.

    Basically my point is that going straight to Uni from school isn't the be all and end all; taking a year out means you will have less academic pressure on you, you know what your grades are and it's far easier to make a measured decision about what you really want to do.

    Hope this is helpful. Good luck with your exams, and I am so terribly sorry for your loss.
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    (Original post by KittyRossetti)
    I just got a place at Oxford, having taken two years out after school. I was 20 a month or so before my interview. I was not in a good place at sixth form (read 'complete mess'), but I was always very keen to push myself and aim for a top university. If you are really genuinely keen to aim for the top, I would totally encourage you (if Oxbridge is really what you want) to take a year or two out, reassess your options, maybe talk to your school (and the university) about your chances. If you are happy going to Queen's then great, but the very fact you started this post suggests you might regret settling.

    Basically my point is that going straight to Uni from school isn't the be all and end all; taking a year out means you will have less academic pressure on you, you know what your grades are and it's far easier to make a measured decision about what you really want to do.

    Hope this is helpful. Good luck with your exams, and I am so terribly sorry for your loss.
    Thank you very much it most certainty does. Congratulations on your offer, i'm glad you got what you wanted in the end. I think that's what i need to pursue.
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    Why did you pick Queen's?
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    (Original post by Eric Arthur)
    Why did you pick Queen's?
    Heh, sadly foresaw something like this happening, but thought that even if i had a terrible year, with my exams etc, i could still go to Queen's if i was desperate to go to university (BBC/BBB offer).
 
 
 

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