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    Hi, I'm an offer-holder for Geography at Oxford. I basically want to change course to Earth Sciences. I know I should have applied for the course I wanted to take in the first place But I only fully realised I wanted to do Earth Sciences very recently, after I had submitted my application. I applied to Geology at another uni with the one choice I had left on UCAS, but because my PS is so blatantly geography-oriented, I doubt I'll get an offer. Do you think that considering Earth Sciences isn't an extremely competitive subject(although neither is Geography) I could successfully change course once I'm there? When and how should I request this?

    edit: my college doesn't offer Earth Sciences
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    Once you start a course at Oxford its really hard to change to another one (though not impossible), its best if you address this before you start - contact your college and see if they can give you any advice.
    If it does occur that you can switch (and remember this is really rare) then prepare for the possibility of having further interviews and also potentially being asked to change college.

    You obviously need to be 100% sure this is the course you want to do before pursuing this as it can be very disruptive.
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    In my very limited experience, successful changes tend to occur at the end of the first term or first Collections, or after Prelims, and college support is more likely if it's in their own interests too; if you're working hard but heading 2.2-wards for example, or if you're looking like a First would be a realistic prospect with the other course, or if you are extremely unhappy with the course and it is affecting your work. That kind of thing. In any event, some sort of coherent narrative is required.

    Just my opinion, but I wouldn't agree that it would be advisable to give Oxford advance notice that you're neither committed to your course nor your college before even giving it a try. Your college may even have an Open Offer holder up their sleeve if you place them in too difficult a position, so you might not have the leverage that you may have later.

    Are you sure that Geography doesn't have modules that may be relevant to your Earth Sciences interests? I read History, initially thinking that I would have preferred History & Politics, but in the end my History degree was as 'political' as I wanted to make it.

    This is particularly the case when it comes to your final dissertation. At my college, one Geographer got a First for an incredibly fascinating thesis, but it seemed to have little to do with 'Geography', at least as non-Geographers would understand the term; IIRC it intellectually reconstructed a long disused funfair using kinesthetics (I'm saying that as if I have the slightest clue what it means )

    Anyway, my impression was that Geography is a pretty flexible subject at Oxford; maybe other TSR members can offer a better perspective

    Good luck
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    (Original post by gumsum)
    Hi, I'm an offer-holder for Geography at Oxford. I basically want to change course to Earth Sciences. I know I should have applied for the course I wanted to take in the first place But I only fully realised I wanted to do Earth Sciences very recently, after I had submitted my application. I applied to Geology at another uni with the one choice I had left on UCAS, but because my PS is so blatantly geography-oriented, I doubt I'll get an offer. Do you think that considering Earth Sciences isn't an extremely competitive subject(although neither is Geography) I could successfully change course once I'm there? When and how should I request this?

    edit: my college doesn't offer Earth Sciences
    The first thing to say is that you have absolutely nothing to lose by contacting your College in advance to enquire about a possible switch, although to be on the safe side you might choose to wait until your offer has ben uploaded to UCAS. Even if you tell them you now hate Geography and give them every expectation that you will be a rotten student, they can't withdraw your offer and as long as you get the grades required they have to admit you. The fact that they don't do the alternative course is a potential problem for a possible switch both before and after October but if you are clear that you do not want to study Geography then discussing it before you take up a place for Geography is the only way for it to be possible to study from the start the subject you want in a College that teaches it.
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    (Original post by gumsum)
    Hi, I'm an offer-holder for Geography at Oxford. I basically want to change course to Earth Sciences. I know I should have applied for the course I wanted to take in the first place But I only fully realised I wanted to do Earth Sciences very recently, after I had submitted my application. I applied to Geology at another uni with the one choice I had left on UCAS, but because my PS is so blatantly geography-oriented, I doubt I'll get an offer. Do you think that considering Earth Sciences isn't an extremely competitive subject(although neither is Geography) I could successfully change course once I'm there? When and how should I request this?

    edit: my college doesn't offer Earth Sciences
    Hey. I was actually in a sort of similarish situation to you (I have an offer for Earth Sciences and was thinking about switching for a short period of time although I've seen sense now!), I'll PM you
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    (Original post by astro67)
    The first thing to say is that you have absolutely nothing to lose by contacting your College in advance to enquire about a possible switch
    Well, you will be letting your college tutor know that you're not keen on studying his/her subject at his/her college.

    (Original post by astro67)
    ...Even if you tell them you now hate Geography and give them every expectation that you will be a rotten student, they can't withdraw your offer and as long as you get the grades required they have to admit you...
    Who suggested otherwise? If you think that I did, you missed my point concerning leverage.

    (Original post by astro67)
    ...discussing it before you take up a place for Geography is the only way for it to be possible to study from the start the subject you want in a College that teaches it.
    States the bloomin' obvious! But this wasn't the OP's question: is it more likely that a request for a change would be granted before starting or after?

    You're the (science subject) admissions tutor, so of course your answer to this question should be the one to follow rather than mine. It just seems to me that you have answered a different one.
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    First, I would check that you are actually eligible for Earth Sciences as it requires Maths plus Physics or Chemistry unlike Geography.

    Then, I would take the time to seriously think about what you actually want. Research all the papers available for Geography and Earth Sciences and see which one you actually prefer, you might find as mentioned that Geography is flexible enough to satisfy the things you are interested in.

    Email your college and ask if you could have the contact email for a current student, ask them about the course and potentially share your fears.

    If you are then 100% sure that you wish to swap, contact your tutor/the main admissions tutor and ask if there is a possibility of it happening. It is possible to switch but in your case it would require switching college as well which is less heard of (but does happen rarely). The chances are they will either just say no, or say they will consider you through interviews at the faculty etc - it's unlikely to be simple.

    At any point you can decide you are happy with Geography, or can start the course and see if you enjoy it before asking to switch after Prelims possibly. You chose the course for a reason so there must be some underlying interest in it, this could just be cold feet (which definitely happens to a lot of people!)
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    (Original post by shoshin)
    Well, you will be letting your college tutor know that you're not keen on studying his/her subject at his/her college.

    Who suggested otherwise? If you think that I did, you missed my point concerning leverage.

    States the bloomin' obvious! But this wasn't the OP's question: is it more likely that a request for a change would be granted before starting or after?

    You're the (science subject) admissions tutor, so of course your answer to this question should be the one to follow rather than mine. It just seems to me that you have answered a different one.
    I suppose impressions matter, but to be very honest, I can't see my tutors genuinely caring that much if the student does well regardless. At the end of the day, my impression is that the tutors care more about how one performs academically as opposed to passion for one's subject.

    I'm also confused about the leverage bit - how does having an Open Offer help or hurt someone who's contemplating changing subjects? The college can't possibly threaten to kick said student out in favour of an open offeree. OP has an offer, and the college is bound to honour it as long as OP meets the entry requirements. Whether there is an Open Offeree who is waiting in the wings is irrelevant.

    I'm with astro67; I think the earlier OP lets his college know he wants a switch (assuming that he's sure about this), the better. From my experience, a fair few people who successfully switched did so at the start of Michaelmas of first year, and had notified their colleges in advance. Obviously, colleges don't all have the same policy (I know one guy who did a term of History and Politics, then dropped out and came back next year to do Law because his college refused to allow an internal switch and made him go through UCAS again), but I still think OP is better off letting them know ASAP, especially since he would probably need to to transfer colleges, which is further administrative hassle. The earlier OP gets to switch, the less catch-up he'll need to do, which is an advantage given the sheer volume of work.
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    (Original post by mishieru07)
    I suppose impressions matter..
    Exactly. So I'm querying the 'absolutely' here.

    (Original post by mishieru07)
    I'm also confused about the leverage bit - how does having an Open Offer help or hurt someone who's contemplating changing subjects? The college can't possibly threaten to kick said student out in favour of an open offeree. OP has an offer, and the college is bound to honour it as long as OP meets the entry requirements. Whether there is an Open Offeree who is waiting in the wings is irrelevant...
    .
    I mean that if before starting the course you were to say, for example: 'I'm afraid that if you do not allow this change I may have to turn your offer down' (and what other leverage do you have at this point?) then your college tutor is unlikely to lose too much sleep about it, particularly as s/he may have in any case marginally preferred you over another candidate that s/he liked so much that s/he touted them round the university trying to secure an alternative offer for them. So being the underwriting college for a current Open Offer holder in Geography would, I guessed, reduce even the minor administrative inconvenience that would result from a threatened spurned offer that became a reality.

    I was trying to contrast this with a student who begins their course in Geography, works hard and gets to know their tutor well, but then after a term or a year has a heartfelt chat with the tutor to pitch a 'coherent narrative' for the change. And I'm suggesting that the second scenario has more chance of success than the first.


    (Original post by mishieru07)
    From my experience, a fair few people who successfully switched did so at the start of Michaelmas of first year, and had notified their colleges in advance...
    Really? I never came across anybody who did this, but if it's that common then I would urge the OP to ignore my advice and take yours.

    Otherwise. I would agree with Lucilou: if someone is 100% sure then of course I do not want them to be unhappy for three years. But the clue is in the thread title: this isn't someone holding an offer for Earth Sciences from UCL and wondering which way to go. It's someone wavering post-offer, like many of us did, so wants to find out if they could change having started at Oxford. Proceeding along the cautious lines suggested by Lucilou makes more sense to me than immediately firing off emails to your college as if doing so is a 'no-brainer'.
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    (Original post by shoshin)

    States the bloomin' obvious! But this wasn't the OP's question: is it more likely that a request for a change would be granted before starting or after?
    My point (rather poorly expressed, I fear) is that I don't believe this is an either/or situation. If it is accepted that there is no harm in asking before OP starts, I thought the conclusion was inevitably that you maximise your chances of getting a positive answer at some point by asking beforehand and asking again after you start if the first attempt is unsuccessful. I agree that does not answer the question outlined above but that is only a useful question to ask if you assume you can only ask about changing course once or that asking before you start has a negative impact on the chance of a positive outcome if the request is made again after OP starts. I would be inclined to challenge such an assumption.
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    (Original post by shoshin)
    I mean that if before starting the course you were to say, for example: 'I'm afraid that if you do not allow this change I may have to turn your offer down' (and what other leverage do you have at this point?) then your college tutor is unlikely to lose too much sleep about it, particularly as s/he may have in any case marginally preferred you over another candidate that s/he liked so much that s/he touted them round the university trying to secure an alternative offer for them. So being the underwriting college for a current Open Offer holder in Geography would, I guessed, reduce even the minor administrative inconvenience that would result from a threatened spurned offer that became a reality.

    I was trying to contrast this with a student who begins their course in Geography, works hard and gets to know their tutor well, but then after a term or a year has a heartfelt chat with the tutor to pitch a 'coherent narrative' for the change. And I'm suggesting that the second scenario has more chance of success than the first.

    Really? I never came across anybody who did this, but if it's that common then I would urge the OP to ignore my advice and take yours.

    Otherwise. I would agree with Lucilou: if someone is 100% sure then of course I do not want them to be unhappy for three years. But the clue is in the thread title: this isn't someone holding an offer for Earth Sciences from UCL and wondering which way to go. It's someone wavering post-offer, like many of us did, so wants to find out if they could change having started at Oxford. Proceeding along the cautious lines suggested by Lucilou makes more sense to me than immediately firing off emails to your college as if doing so is a 'no-brainer'.
    I don't actually think the college is likely to cave simply because you threatened not to come if they didn't let you change. My college tutors lost 3 people in a year out of a cohort of 10 because they missed their grades, and I highly doubt they lost any sleep over the fact that the cohort was smaller than normal (we also ended up not taking any open offerees that year). I can't imagine them being too fussed that they lost someone because they changed their mind about their subject in the end.

    There's a good reason why colleges over-offer in the first place; they make allowances for people not taking up their offers for whatever reason. If you ask me, I think the administrative hassle of getting an open offeree in is far less than getting someone to transfer subjects, especially to one the college doesn't even do, bearing in mind that the open offer system has been around for ages and probably works decently well.

    I know two people who changed before Michaelmas - one was at my college and one at Magdalen. Which is why I thought it made more sense to ask beforehand because that means you don't have to waste an additional term/ year doing a different subject.

    My advice was premised on the assumption that OP knew for sure that he didn't want to do Geography any more and had his heart set on Earth Sciences (he said that he "basically wants to change" subject and he realized he didn't really want to do Geography, so I thought that was a reasonable assumption to make). If OP isn't sure, Lucilou's advice is probably the most sensible. Otherwise, if he's made up his mind, I still think it's better to send an email now and ask about the possibility of switching asap.
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    (Original post by mishieru07)
    I don't actually think the college is likely to cave simply because you threatened not to come if they didn't let you change...I think the administrative hassle of getting an open offeree in is far less than getting someone to transfer subjects, especially to one the college doesn't even do.
    :confused: I completely agree!
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    Thanks to everyone for the advice! I will probably contact the college about a possible change, but I've decided not to push the issue if(more like when) they say no. I originally wanted to do a very physical concentration of Geography and possibly do a dphil/phd in geology, at which point a degree in Earth Sciences would be much more convenient for my career, even if I had to sacrifice the breadth of Geography(the reason I applied in the first place). If(or again, when) I don't get a switch I will probably just work doubly hard for a first, and if that doesn't get me where I want, I think I'll either do a second BA, or go to the States for grad school, where they apparently care less about your original "major".
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    (Original post by gumsum)
    Thanks to everyone for the advice! I will probably contact the college about a possible change, but I've decided not to push the issue if(more like when) they say no. I originally wanted to do a very physical concentration of Geography and possibly do a dphil/phd in geology, at which point a degree in Earth Sciences would be much more convenient for my career, even if I had to sacrifice the breadth of Geography(the reason I applied in the first place). If(or again, when) I don't get a switch I will probably just work doubly hard for a first, and if that doesn't get me where I want, I think I'll either do a second BA, or go to the States for grad school, where they apparently care less about your original "major".
    Sorry we couldn't present a more united front regarding advice! But astro67 is an Oxford admissions tutor so if he says there is 'absolutely nothing to lose' in contacting them asap then I don't blame you for following that line.

    If you could update this thread when you get a yes or no, it might help future TSR offer holders with the same dilemma.

    Best of luck
 
 
 
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