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Four year cf. three year Classics course Watch

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    My daughter will probably be applying to read Classics at Oxford or Cambridge to start in 2012. Does anyone have a good justification for taking a four year course rather than three, especially considering how much more it will cost in student loan? If the fees are £9,000 a year and living expenses £4-5,000, that's a lot of money. Is it worth it? Or will Oxford have to make the cost for four years comparable to three at Cambridge?

    Julian
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    That's a good question. Of course, it depends on your (or her, if the two aren't, for all intents and purposes, equivalent) finances: however, you say that you consider the potential extra costs [of studying Lit. Hum. at Oxford] to be significant, as many people would, so I'll take that as read. (And, from what I know of the funding proposals, I don't believe that Oxford would have any duty to make their total fees for their four-year courses equivalent to those for the three-year ones, since the limits are only annual, and the simple fact is that, in line with the greater costs incurred over a greater length of time, the fees will almost certainly be greater, otherwise they'd be subsidising classicists, something that I doubt they'd do!)

    To my mind, the only compelling reason for taking a four-year course over a three-year one (if we assume, not without justification, that the teaching standards etc. are roughly equivalent at Ox. and Cam.) is in order to build up a stronger foundational knowledge, if one wishes to become an academic. However, many excellent academics have studied at Cambridge (amongst other places), so it's certainly not a necessity even in that situation (and, really, an extra year is next to nothing in the long lifespan of an academic). An important point is that one often doesn't know if that's a route that one wishes to pursue until beginning the course though, which makes its use as a deciding factor well and truly redundant! Of course, there are subjective factors to be placed into the equation (e.g. attachment to a particular college, personal desire to study for three/four years etc.), but many people might not consider them to be as pressing as the financial concerns. All in all, I can't personally see that the Cambridge course would be any lesser, in practical (if not real) terms, than the Oxford: employers certainly wouldn't view it in any darker light. But I am sure that there are Oxonians on here who would come to the other conclusion, even if only out of understandable pride in their alma mater.

    Ultimately, however, it may be a good idea to leave the final choice up to her (with a little parental input), since it is a relatively significant decision in one's life and if you were to pressure her too much into choosing what she later considers to have been the worse option, she may not be thankful (especially if she's eventually going to pay all/most of her fees herself). And all this, of course, is assuming that she'll be accepted at her top choice (which, statistically speaking, is much more likely for classics than many other subjects, but, as goes without saying, never certain). She's obviously relatively intelligent to be considering such courses at all, so it's a safe bet that she'll choose wisely!
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    Thanks so much for that very thoughtful reply. Lots of good ideas. It's very helpful.
 
 
 
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