1. What is it like to be an international student at Oxford, and how well do they usually integrate into the student body?
Its entirely up to the student at Oxford. My understanding of Ivy League colleges is that there is much more social structure (and social exclusion) - so you find a niche to fit in in Yale - in Oxford (where I did my grad work) you are supposed to make a reputation for yourself.
"could someone a bit more tightly wound enjoy his time at Oxford?" Yes - but he'd have to make an effort to get out and meet people.
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Oxford vs Yale? watch
- 06-04-2011 22:16
- 06-04-2011 22:18
2. What are extra-curriculars at Oxford like? Are they really much less prominent than they would be at an American university?
No - but they are less structured. Think of all the amazing comedy that came out of Cambridge Footlights - all the practice in formal debating at the Oxford Union that formed the basis of the skills of so many world leaders - but you have to be an autodidact at Oxford - the whole ethos is that you learn to learn - rather than learning to wait for someone to spoon feed you.
- 06-04-2011 22:27
3. What are most Oxford students like?
Extremely varied and individualistic.
There is no stigma at all in being an intellectual - you are not a nerd - just smart. Generally much more mature than those shown in The Social Network - better social skills - better access to members of the opposite sex who they seem to treat much better (many people meet their future spouses at Oxford & Cambridge). There is less bias toward the rich and toward 'jocks' in Oxford. There are no 'sports scholarships' - you get in on intellectual merit and you can do sport if you want. No-one thinks just because you can pull an oar or kick a ball there is anything amazing about you at Oxford. Girls seem to go for nice guys not muscle-bound oafs.
At Oxford there is not such a bias to just the rich as Ivy League - you get in on talent (and character) not money. Obviously with money you can develop your talent more to get an advantage getting in - but you simply can't buy your way in.
"would there be less dynamism and, in some ways, less people with interesting backgrounds and career-driven achievements?"
No - quite the opposite - I've met amazing people with incredible achievements at Oxford. Visiting students and grad students from the Ivy league seem duller and less mature. Many Oxford students have travelled well off the tourist structured path - have worked with aid organizations - have all sorts of unexpected skills (one friend reading Psychology, Philosophy and Physiology, turned out to be a spectacularly good Unix hacker (in the good sense), chess master and concert pianist as well).
Oxford's endowment (amount of money) is much less but it has produced far more Nobel prizes than Yale. Yale closes the gap by using its cash to lure them in after they have got their prizes rather than nurturing genius early on.
- 06-04-2011 22:38
- 07-04-2011 09:30
I went to Queen's for 4 years and loved it but from what you have said, I do get the feeling that you would prefer your time at Yale.
Firstly, just to answer your question about colleges:
Not all Oxford colleges are the same but you can't really rank them in order of how generally good they are! Queen's is extremely relaxed, and unfortunately for you VERY politically apathetic- we were lucky if we had 2 people running for jcr pres (someone got in one year without even going to hustings).
Having said that, if you want to make it politically in Oxford you would probably be spending all your time at the union anyway.
Fitting in wise, there was a girl in my year who had a similar attitude and background to yours who fitted in fine (queen's is known for being friendly) but you obviously have to be willing to make a little bit of effort!
As has been said, either way you have a good option but the courses are clearly very different and it's only you who can decide which you would prefer.
- 07-04-2011 09:38
oxford why..... legal drinking age 18 which means non of this hiding beer in frats crap jsut go the pub an bam ale
- 07-04-2011 09:40
- 07-04-2011 10:58
- 07-04-2011 11:37
You say oriented, and I say orientated,
You say dynamistic and I say dynamicistic
All together now..
- 07-04-2011 11:41
I'd re-apply and try and get into Hull.
- 07-04-2011 11:42
All of you creatures do not know what you're talking about. Oxford is clearly more superior to Yale. Why would you even associate the two in the same sentence?
- 07-04-2011 11:57
From the sounds of it, you would perhaps have a better time at Yale. They're both top academically so you needn't worry about that and focus on where you'd feel happiest.
Furthermore, you can't rank colleges at Oxford in terms of best to worst.
(Original post by desertfox)
- 07-04-2011 12:01
I'm an international student in Asia currently choosing between Yale and an offer to take up PPE at Queen's. I am extremely grateful for being able to make this decision, but at the same time, am wrestling with the choice.
1. What is it like to be an international student at Oxford, and how well do they usually integrate into the student body? In my case, I come from a non-commonwealth Asian country and have been geared towards an American education all my life. In addition to general concerns about adjusting to this new environment, I am much more familiar with American than British culture. Neither am I the most naturally outgoing person, and I don't go out, drink and party or anything. My fear then is that I'd have a difficult time meeting people, and all other factors aside, Yale is reputed to be a very friendly and welcoming place ... but at the same time, could someone a bit more tightly wound enjoy his time at Oxford?
2. What are extra-curriculars at Oxford like? Are they really much less prominent than they would be at an American university? (interested in debate, Model United Nations, student council, and writing for the student newspaper) Is the focus more so on the academics? Similarly, would you consider it a much more intellectual environment rather than career-driven environment?
3. What are most Oxford students like? This may be loosely related to the last question. This is surely oversimplifying things, but would it be far from true to say that Oxford students would be much more focused on their academics? American universities aren't just academic environments, but places that attract ambitious students who are perhaps more career-oriented. Think Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network. The U.S. college admissions process also puts a premium on holistic standards, such as life experiences you offer through your essays and recommendations. Although Oxford students are no doubt brilliant, would there be less dynamism and, in some ways, less people with interesting backgrounds and career-driven achievements?
4. How different are student personalities and cultures across colleges? I initially applied to Balliol and was then pooled to Queen's. I don't know much about the college, and would appreciate any insights for a very politically-minded, tightly wound international student looking to make the most of the next three years. That said, to put it bluntly, are not all Oxford colleges created equally? My understanding is that at Cambridge, Trinity reigns somehow above all others -- is that the case for a few of those (albeit to a lesser extent) at Oxford? Where would Queen's fall on this scale? And, if I may ask, would the students here be less engaging than at these other colleges?
Aside from those specific points, I'd also appreciate hearing your takes on the general differences between the two environments. I apologize for asking so many questions -- as a confused high schooler halfway around the world, I really, really appreciate any help you guys can extend. Thank you very much!
2) Oxford is amazing for extra-curriculars. You have societies for everything at the university level, and due to the collegiate system quite often there is a college society too. Out of your list, my college has both a debating society and its own student newspaper. There is also a governing body for the students, if that's what you mean with student council.
On top of that, the Oxford Union is recognized to be the best debating club there is (as far as I know). They have speakers (such as the foreign minister of Pakistan) who come to give a talk and there is a massive debating sector. They give lessons, enter competitions and do a range of other things.
3) I can imagine that people at Yale will be slightly more career driven in general, while Oxford is slightly more intellectual. Oxford is also slightly less competitive I'd imagine, in that the top 20% of people per subject get a first (top mark) and there is no real differentiation between them, while American universities often like to rank their students. However there is a large diversity in backgrounds and I would not call the Oxford students anything like boring.
In terms of friendliness I can only be positive about Oxford. They are very welcoming and I would say that the Collegiate system (which I believe is fundamentally different from the version Yale promotes) is a great aid.
4) There are student stereotypes from all the colleges. However as most students do not actually know much about the different colleges before they apply, they do not differentiate themselves to the 'appropriate' college so that the stereotypes kind of fall apart. The idea of the 'best' college will be made up very fast in your first week, and it will be the one you go to. From a purely academic point of view, there is the Norrington table but it is not so that some colleges are much better than others (unless you go to one of them )
Finally I'd like to recommend Oxford because I believe the lack of extreme competitiveness makes it more enjoyable, which I do imagine to be the case at Yale. Oxford has a billion oppertunities, and in terms of academic teaching it is second to none (the tutorial system + copyright library + collegiate library + working together benefits everyone -> better place)
- 07-04-2011 12:04
- 07-04-2011 12:12
OP you seem to favor Yale, saying that their students are more ambitious / entrepreneurial etc - but bear in mind that there's a whole lot more American students then there are UK students, so you can't really tell if USA universities have a higher percentage of 'Zuckerberg's or not.Last edited by Architecture-er; 07-04-2011 at 12:20.
- 07-04-2011 16:19
OP it is obviously a difficult choice, but in my view, Oxford edges it.
I would guess that you are angling towards majoring in EPE if you went to Yale - did you indicate on your form to Yale that you would likely wish to do Directed Studies in your first year? That would personally be the only circumstance in which I would select Yale. Directed Studies looks amazing, and is probably the only Humanities/Arts program IMHO that is superior to Oxbrisge in rigour, breadth and difficulty.
That said, EPE is at the end of the day, and this is meant with all due respect to Yaies studying it, essentially a descendent of PPE.
PPE is an immense course, and I often regret not having applied for it. You only need to look at the list of people who did it to see that it will open doors for you.
Also, if you will all forgive me for snobbishness, Oxford is harder academically than Yale. Directed Studies is again the exeption, but for PPE your entire degree will be examined based on 8 papers over 2 weeks at the end (each is 3 hours, and you need to learn 5/6 topics for each). It doesn't sound like much, but just this different style of grading means Oxford is much much harder than American universities.
To counteract this though, you recieve the best teaching in the world - there is in my view no better way to learn a subject than to be grilled on an essay by the word expert. When there are only one or two other students in the tutorial it means you very quickly have to be able to defend your views articulately and there is nowhere to hide. It is fundamentally something that you cannot replicate in a class of 10 people.
Academically then, I would go for Oxford.
In terms of the location, Oxford is no metropolis. In fact it is surprising just how small it is. That said, there is always a lot going on , and london is only an hour away, though I never have time to go. New Haven, CT however, is famous for being dangerous. No doubt this is an exaggerated stereotype, but even a cursory glance at crime statistics show that is is nohwere near as safe as Oxford. Even if you end up in the wrong parts of Oxford (difficult when they are far from the Uni area) , you can at least be assured that there are no guns.
Socially I think Oxford again takes the biscuit. Yale in the 1930s was redesigned so as to copy the Oxford collegiate system which fosters friendship. Having a group of about 300 people who you are always seeing around is very nice, and means that it is actually quite hard not to make friends. Of course, you do need to put in some effort, and it does help if you drink, but in general I would say it is a very sociable university.
In terms of politics, there are so many levels tot be involved at, the most obvious being he JCR (like a students union for each college) this varies in terms of how keen people are - my college is extremely competive and involved, whereas others are apathetic.
There is of course the Oxford Union, and for all its quality, the Yale Political Union does not hold a candle to Oxford. Be warned though that the Unions (at Yale and Oxford) are very cuthroat, and frequently people who used to fancy themselvess as future presidents find that they are in fact inept politicians.
Also as someone mentioned, if you are Chinese, you really need to make an effort not to simply socialise with other Chinese students as opposed to other students. Of course it happens with all the nationalities at Oxford, with the Indian and Korean communities being very tight, but with chinese students it seems to frequently become a problem, and prevents them from integrating.