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To all those who got rejected from Oxbridge (from a current student) watch

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    (Original post by Pessimisterious)
    Sounds like A-levels need to be altered and acceptance criteria needs to be looked at.

    My younger brother is at Oxford and hasn't complained once. He's very active in his various social things, too.

    Probably depends on the subject though.

    Also, I would agree that it may be harder at Oxbridge, but not because of tougher content. The stress is likely due to the condensed semester length. What I do at my uni in 10 weeks, Oxford does in 8.

    I've compared course content however and it's all the same, at least for physics it is. Probably changes in higher years but then at that point it's not about the difficulty, it's about what material the university is able to teach. This is often what sets unis apart - the earlier year modules are all the same, it's the 3rd/4th year stuff, taught by professors who are rare specialists in their field, that sets unis apart. For example my uni has an awesome 3rd year course in geophysical fluid dynamics which you can only get at a handful of British unis.

    Not that my uni is super duper - I'm just pointing out how a lot of universities have equally difficult material, and the only difference is the variety of modules available to students in later years.

    Conclusion: Oxbridge stuff is more difficult because of the condensed semester length. Course content isn't much different overall.
    That's contrary to the vast majority of accounts I've read, and to what I've seen for myself. I don't know about physics or what uni you're at, but I've seen content from other courses and there can be vast differences.

    (Original post by Luke7456)
    See these are the sought of things that confuse me could that issue not be resolved by reading ahead? I mean if I was fortunate enough to get an Oxbridge offer and after having sat the exams was under the impression that their was a realistic chance that I had met the offer and was in, I would spend the summer period reading ahead to try and get a small lead or to compensate for that. I don't mean to imply that myself self studying could work at the same pace as oxbridge obviously not but I'd like to think that with a whole 2-3 months I could shave of at least a week or two? And if we have 3 terms that is 24 weeks a year we are at Oxbridge what happens to the other 28 weeks? Can we not utilise that?

    Am I missing something here?
    I think you're missing that that poster is not correct. Oxbridge most definitely has harder content, as per the vast majority of accounts I've read and the fact that students from different unis can have such differing abilities on entry.

    Obviously almost all students continue working in the holidays (although summer can be fairly free), but its still challenging to keep pace.
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    (Original post by nexttime)
    That's contrary to the vast majority of accounts I've read, and to what I've seen for myself. I don't know about physics or what uni you're at, but I've seen content from other courses and there can be vast differences.


    .
    Maybe it's a STEM thing.

    Every technical course learns the same basics which were mostly established a century or so ago. This foundation is then applied to more specific modules in later years.

    Like I said, it's the later years that count and set universities apart.
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    (Original post by Pessimisterious)
    Maybe it's a STEM thing.

    Every technical course learns the same basics which were mostly established a century or so ago. This foundation is then applied to more specific modules in later years.

    Like I said, it's the later years that count and set universities apart.
    Nope.

    Firstly - your theory that its because of term length at Oxbridge is definitely wrong. Students very much do work in holidays to catch up and consolidate knowledge from the previous term. The idea that they just...stop and chill whilst their peers are still at uni working is nonsense.

    So the main personal experience i have is from chemistry. I can barely even understand the questions for Oxford chem first year papers. The quantum mechanics papers were particularly baffling. I compared that to my friend's experience, who went to Nottingham. They don't even touch on anything quantum in first year - it was a third year module. Similar differences between the level of calculus and matrices/series content.

    I think the differences are more obvious in STEM. Maths content of science courses is probably one of the things that varies the most - just look at course requirements for maths top unis vs those lower down.

    There are more problems with your theory - you perhaps don't go to a uni where the average a-level attainment is a C or below but there are unis like that. Think back to your school days and the difference that existed between those getting Cs and those easily getting A*s (like most Oxbridge students do). You can't be telling me with a straight face that those two groups of people are going to learn the same content just months later in the first year of uni?

    I find this topic kind of boring so won't be posting further but I can assure you - the content of degrees, science or otherwise, varies substantially uni to uni. Those differences will be smaller in some instances bigger in others, but they very much do exist.
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    (Original post by CatherineE-S)
    Not getting into Oxbridge is not the end of the world; take it from a current student at Oxford. You might love your subject, or you might love the idea of studying at Oxbridge. Whatever your reason for applying, rejection might just be the best thing to happen to you.
    I applied to Cambridge and was rejected. The next year, after achieving 3 A*s in my A levels, I was accepted by Oxford. I thought it was the best thing in the world, and at the time, I could not have been happier.
    But after being here for a term (and a few weeks into my second term), let me tell you, it is not what it seems. Sure, there is the natural small fish in a big pond; all of a sudden you're not the best, you're lucky to be average. But that isn't what makes studying here difficult. What makes it difficult (I would say horrendous), is that no matter what you do, it is never good enough. And when you have to write 4 essays in a week on subjects you don't know much (or for me, anything) about, you find yourself in a very dark place. You fluctuate from having hope and motivation that you will be able to get by. But then you start the reading, and realise that you don't understand it, that you don't like your subject anymore, and there is no hope. You have to accept that what you hand in will be bad, that you will be brutally judged on it; that is hard to accept. It is impossible to deal with. So you comfort yourself by socializing, or watching netflix, or getting involved in too many societies. And that just makes the mess at the end worse. Having realised this, I find it impossible to even start essays. I will often just sit there, miserable, inconsolable, doing nothing. It doesn't make for a good end product.
    It is a dark place from which there is no escape. And almost everyone I have talked to feels the exact same way. By the time you reach the end of term, you are sleep deprived, nutrient deprived, and often delusional. Nothing can be done about that. It is what Oxbridge does to you.
    Not only that, but most of the time (especially in arts subjects) your tutorials/supervisions don't match up with lectures; you have to write essays for subjects you have never even heard about, never mind had lectures on. And if you're unlucky enough to have four essays in a week, due to bad and unorganised scheduling (which can't be avoided when you're dealing with world leading academics), you can't even begin to imagine the emptiness and darkness that brings to your life.
    So please don't see getting rejected as a bad thing. Most other unis are actually better organised, and as a result your work will probably be better. You wont come to hate your subject. You will actually be able to have an enjoyable life. And trust me, I am not saying this to comfort you. I am saying this because I am so dejected and fed up by the whole Oxbridge system, that I feel a genuine need as a human being to warn people. I often wonder what my life would have been like if I had ended up at any other uni. I have forgotten what it feels like to have enough sleep, nutrients, a decent social life. All that is just a distant memory, and I am still only just getting by, by the skin of my teeth.
    Rejection is probably the best thing that could have happened to you. And I am writing this as someone who has no history of depression or mental illness. I don't suffer from them. This is just what Oxbridge does to you.
    I realise that it might be selfish and make me seem self absorbed to be moaning at being at such an institution. And I do appreciate the opportunity. I am grateful to have it. But it really is not all it seems. That I can assure you.
    Thanks for posting this. I suffer through depression but was hoping to apply to oxford to study History or History&Economics. But after reading your post I am not sure if I could handle the pressure of Oxford on top of my depression. You also mentioned specially for the Arts subjects the tutorials and supervision don't match he lectures and you often have to do essays on things you have no idea about - I don't quiet understand that so do you mind explaining that to me? Also I am an international student so kind of scared about everything feeling even worse as a foreigner. Also what subject do you read at oxford?
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    (Original post by transient life)
    Thanks for posting this. I suffer through depression but was hoping to apply to oxford to study History or History&Economics. But after reading your post I am not sure if I could handle the pressure of Oxford on top of my depression. You also mentioned specially for the Arts subjects the tutorials and supervision don't match he lectures and you often have to do essays on things you have no idea about - I don't quiet understand that so do you mind explaining that to me? Also I am an international student so kind of scared about everything feeling even worse as a foreigner. Also what subject do you read at oxford?
    Hey, I posted in this thread earlier (I'm at Cambridge not Oxford). First of all, it is definitely hard. But don't let that put you off applying. There are so many support networks at Cambridge and Oxford (and particularly my college, Newnham).

    The lectures and supervisions don't always match, but sometimes they do. Of course, it is easier to write essays on topics you have had lectures on. But I find that I hardly use my lecture notes, even when I could. Lectures tend to give the basics; it's up to you to do the further research for the essays regardless of whether you have had the lecture. For example, I had to write an essay on structuralism and functionalism without having had the lecture. It just meant I had to do a bit more reading. But when I had the lecture, it made more sense than it might have otherwise.
    Don't worry at all about being an international student; a lot of my friends are, and from what I gather, it doesn't really make a difference. When you're here you form a kind of community of friends; you're all in the same boat and probably all miss home.
    (I study HSPS at Cambridge by the way)
    If you have any questions at all, please feel free to message me. I'm more than happy to help and give advice
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    (Original post by nexttime)
    Nope.

    Firstly - your theory that its because of term length at Oxbridge is definitely wrong. Students very much do work in holidays to catch up and consolidate knowledge from the previous term. The idea that they just...stop and chill whilst their peers are still at uni working is nonsense.

    So the main personal experience i have is from chemistry. I can barely even understand the questions for Oxford chem first year papers. The quantum mechanics papers were particularly baffling. I compared that to my friend's experience, who went to Nottingham. They don't even touch on anything quantum in first year - it was a third year module. Similar differences between the level of calculus and matrices/series content.

    I think the differences are more obvious in STEM. Maths content of science courses is probably one of the things that varies the most - just look at course requirements for maths top unis vs those lower down.

    There are more problems with your theory - you perhaps don't go to a uni where the average a-level attainment is a C or below but there are unis like that. Think back to your school days and the difference that existed between those getting Cs and those easily getting A*s (like most Oxbridge students do). You can't be telling me with a straight face that those two groups of people are going to learn the same content just months later in the first year of uni?

    I find this topic kind of boring so won't be posting further but I can assure you - the content of degrees, science or otherwise, varies substantially uni to uni. Those differences will be smaller in some instances bigger in others, but they very much do exist.
    So you think a shorter term length, and therefore a more dense workload, has no effect on the stress levels of a student?

    About course content - ok sure, some unis may have easier material, but only insofar as they don't have much else to teach beyond a certain point, because, as I said, unis only truly differ in what they can offer in later years when students tend to branch out and pick optional modules based on the things that interest them most.

    There are more problems with your theory - you perhaps don't go to a uni where the average a-level attainment is a C or below but there are unis like that.
    If the average attainment is too low, the course wouldn't be on offer because students wouldn't be able to pass.

    An accredited degree is an accredited degree. This means every institution must teach students a specified set of material to for their degree to be worthy of its own title.

    If I meet someone who's done physics at Nottingham and someone who's done the same at Oxford or wherever, I can at least know that they'll both have reached a certain standard to the point that they're both classed as qualified physicists according to the Institute of Physics. This has to be the case, otherwise their degree wouldn't be called a degree. The only difference is in the specialist stuff, most of which they learn... in later years, and like I keep repeating, this is where the bulk of the variety and 'better vs worse' comes in.

    Your point about "1st year material isn't covered until 3rd year in some of the worse places" is moot, too. Some content doesn't have an order to it. I did quantum physics and vector calculus in 1st year at a decidedly average uni. A lot of 'better' unis do those topics in 2nd year. It's just a different ordering of the content.

    Plus, the fact that a student can do well in their degree at any university then apply to do a postgrad at a better uni, as long as they've done relevant topics to their desired postgrad course, pretty much proves that it's module variety that sets a uni apart, not just 'how difficult it is'.
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    (Original post by Pessimisterious)
    So you think a shorter term length, and therefore a more dense workload, has no effect on the stress levels of a student?

    About course content - ok sure, some unis may have easier material, but only insofar as they don't have much else to teach beyond a certain point, because, as I said, unis only truly differ in what they can offer in later years when students tend to branch out and pick optional modules based on the things that interest them most.



    If the average attainment is too low, the course wouldn't be on offer because students wouldn't be able to pass.

    An accredited degree is an accredited degree. This means every institution must teach students a specified set of material to for their degree to be worthy of its own title.

    If I meet someone who's done physics at Nottingham and someone who's done the same at Oxford or wherever, I can at least know that they'll both have reached a certain standard to the point that they're both classed as qualified physicists according to the Institute of Physics. This has to be the case, otherwise their degree wouldn't be called a degree. The only difference is in the specialist stuff, most of which they learn... in later years, and like I keep repeating, this is where the bulk of the variety and 'better vs worse' comes in.

    Your point about "1st year material isn't covered until 3rd year in some of the worse places" is moot, too. Some content doesn't have an order to it. I did quantum physics and vector calculus in 1st year at a decidedly average uni. A lot of 'better' unis do those topics in 2nd year. It's just a different ordering of the content.

    Plus, the fact that a student can do well in their degree at any university then apply to do a postgrad at a better uni, as long as they've done relevant topics to their desired postgrad course, pretty much proves that it's module variety that sets a uni apart, not just 'how difficult it is'.
    I think an important point here is that at Oxbridge, because of the large amount of contact time (one on one, or one on two) with world leading academics, it allows you to challenge a lot of preconceptions in your field and really think originally. In most cases, that means that even if you've technically got the 'right' answer and understand it, you are still being pushed beyond that on a weekly basis. I do an arts subject, and maybe it's different (I genuinely don't know). But the thing that can be considered most difficult, is that there is never really a right answer on even the most obvious of things. So you're being pushed not only on textual material that other unis do, but also your interpretation and understanding of it. For example, one supervisor I have is always encouraging me to develop mt 'original' ideas with force. So I have to cover/understand the content, but then develop that further by looking at it from an original perspective, which is a very hard thing to do!!
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    (Original post by Pessimisterious)

    If the average attainment is too low, the course wouldn't be on offer because students wouldn't be able to pass.
    That's just incorrect. You're proving the other posters point about only knowing about unis with high attainment. Many unis have poor average attainment and still offer the related course. Students pass anyway because the content is extremely easy. E.g computer science at middlesex.
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    (Original post by pairofjeans)
    That's just incorrect. You're proving the other posters point about only knowing about unis with high attainment. Many unis have poor average attainment and still offer the related course. Students pass anyway because the content is extremely easy. E.g computer science at middlesex.
    Yes and the degree ought to still be accredited by the relevant professional body.

    More info here: http://www.bcs.org/upload/pdf/hea-gu...sfull-2015.pdf

    Minimum standards are minimum standards. I'm sure a person who went to Middlesex for their computer science degree and passed will still know a hell of a lot more about computer science than me.

    The thing setting unis apart is what they offer in later years. (Like I keep saying!)
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    (Original post by Pessimisterious)
    Here's a thought: If I pass my degree from a redbrick with 40% on every subject, am I automatically better than someone who averages 60% or higher from a polytechnic?
    I am so sorry but, what nexttime was alluding to, this discussion has been had on TSR dozens of times.

    The main topic, current and recent Oxbridge students' candid reflections on undergraduate teaching and course organisation, is comparatively novel and shouldn't now be crowded out by this.
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    (Original post by cambio wechsel)
    I am so sorry but, what nexttime was alluding to, this discussion has been had on TSR dozens of times.

    The main topic, current and recent Oxbridge students' candid reflections on undergraduate teaching and course organisation, is comparatively novel and shouldn't now be crowded out by this.
    Absolutely right - this is a really interesting thread. Anyone who wants to read the never-ending discussion about standards and other unis etc etc etc has got a million-and-one other threads already on TSR.
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    (Original post by cambio wechsel)
    I am so sorry but, what nexttime was alluding to, this discussion has been had on TSR dozens of times.

    The main topic, current and recent Oxbridge students' candid reflections on undergraduate teaching and course organisation, is comparatively novel and shouldn't now be crowded out by this.
    Heh, you caught that little snippet before I edited it out. I know it was beside the point.

    Funnily enough I too noticed it creeping towards the 'which uni is better' is better debate. As I said earlier, I haven't used this forum for years. I forgot how much people here seem to enjoy gravitating towards that topic.
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    (Original post by transient life)
    Thanks for posting this. I suffer through depression but was hoping to apply to oxford to study History or History&Economics. But after reading your post I am not sure if I could handle the pressure of Oxford on top of my depression. You also mentioned specially for the Arts subjects the tutorials and supervision don't match he lectures and you often have to do essays on things you have no idea about - I don't quiet understand that so do you mind explaining that to me? Also I am an international student so kind of scared about everything feeling even worse as a foreigner. Also what subject do you read at oxford?
    I am not the OP but I personally (I know many will disagree with me here) would advise against applying to Oxford if you suffer from something that is more than mild depression. Even if yours is mild, actually, I would find out as much information as possible about support provisions, exams concessions, etc. that would be offered/available to you, before taking up any offer from Oxford. It is a very high pressure and can often be an unforgiving environment.

    Do lots of research before taking up any offer, regarding your depression. Others have explained the other things already. I don't think you need to worry about being an international student, though I believe some disability support (i.e. Disabled Students' Allowance) may only be for UK-funded students only :yes:
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    (Original post by Pessimisterious)
    ... I haven't used this forum for years. I forgot how much people here seem to enjoy gravitating towards that topic.


    Original post by Pessimisterious;69864598
    Also, I would agree that it may be harder at Oxbridge, but not because of tougher content... What I do at my uni in 10 weeks, Oxford does in 8.

    I've compared course content however and it's all the same...

    etc etc

    Original post by Pessimisterious;69864598
    I've compared course content however and it's all the same...
    :wtf:
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    (Original post by Pessimisterious)
    The thing setting unis apart is what they offer in later years. (Like I keep saying!)
    Like you keep saying incorrectly! Look at your posts:

    "I'm just pointing out how a lot of universities have equally difficult material"

    "also, I would agree that it may be harder at Oxbridge, but not because of tougher content. The stress is likely due to the condensed semester length. What I do at my uni in 10 weeks, Oxford does in 8."

    First of all you back your entire argument up with an anecdote about your uni course in physics. First of all I don't know why you're assuming it must be the same with all courses across the uni. Second of all, your statements wrong anyway. What I'm sure you've done is just googled oxfords unit titles, saw they're the same as yours then assumed you did the same thing. You can see why everyone's disagreeing with you right now if you just look at what they actually cover within units.

    Then you keep incorrectly reiterating what sets unis apart is what they offer in later years. Where have you gotten that from? What exactly are you referring to by saying later years? After year 1? Go and google a first year semester 1 exam from Cambridge on something you think you've covered before.

    Like damn. It's ok to admit you don't know what you're talking about sometimes. I'm doing engineering. My friend at Cambridge occasionally rants about his own engineering work in our group chat. We're both in first year it's on structures. I can assure you that it's significantly harder content. Some of the stuff hes given just looks horrific.
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    (Original post by alow)
    Practical marks seemed to depend a lot more on the demonstrators mood than anything else really. The one I was marked down in was also compulsory and obviously if I could have chosen a harder one for more marks I would so it's really not fair.

    Yeah that sucks. I pay £3.6k per year for ensuite accommodation which includes £600 to spend in hall/buttery and I can stay until the end of June. It's really not fair how different colleges have such drastically different living costs.

    Are the supervisions your DoS organised the bad ones (and shouldn't it be their job to fix that)? The ones I've had organised by the department have been good so far, and they've all said they can do some revision supervisions closer to exams without having to talk to my college to confirm it. Does that mean Murray Edwards contacts supervisors to tell them they won't fund extra supervisions before they have time to offer any?
    Urgh, I could moan about practical marking for years...

    What college are you at??? That's such a great deal! I pay £5000 a year (admittedly for very nice, modern ensuite - not that I had much choice, the cheapest rooms in college are just over £3000 (but that's shared) or £3700-ish for a tiny, unrefurbed single room) and that's excluding meals, for something like a 26 week contract (basically, we can move in the Sunday before lectures start, get kicked out the Saturday after lectures end, and have to leave at the very start of May Week :'(

    Yeah, all the bad ones were generally organised by my DoS - but whenever I have asked about switching supervisors/ some advice on what to do to get more out of our supervisions, I've always been told that it was really hard to find supervisors that year, all the good ones were already taken by their own colleges, none of them wanted to cycle up the hill (not that any of us have issues with cycling to another college/ the department anyway!), it was probably just a one-off issue so I should just give the supervisor another chance, etc. etc. It's got a bit better this year, probably because supervisions are now organised by the department/ ourselves and my DoS this year is actually a Chemist.

    Regarding the funding issues - it's always been the supervisors mentioning it to us first, e.g. we'll say "would it be ok to have a revision supervision to go over all of this/ through some past paper questions" and they'll say something like "I'll have to double check with the college if there's funding for that", then come back saying that unfortunately they won't be able to do a revision supervision. I got the impression that they'd had issues in the past with getting college to cough up money...
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    (Original post by dragonkeeper999)
    Urgh, I could moan about practical marking for years...

    What college are you at??? That's such a great deal! I pay £5000 a year (admittedly for very nice, modern ensuite - not that I had much choice, the cheapest rooms in college are just over £3000 (but that's shared) or £3700-ish for a tiny, unrefurbed single room) and that's excluding meals, for something like a 26 week contract (basically, we can move in the Sunday before lectures start, get kicked out the Saturday after lectures end, and have to leave at the very start of May Week :'(

    Yeah, all the bad ones were generally organised by my DoS - but whenever I have asked about switching supervisors/ some advice on what to do to get more out of our supervisions, I've always been told that it was really hard to find supervisors that year, all the good ones were already taken by their own colleges, none of them wanted to cycle up the hill (not that any of us have issues with cycling to another college/ the department anyway!), it was probably just a one-off issue so I should just give the supervisor another chance, etc. etc. It's got a bit better this year, probably because supervisions are now organised by the department/ ourselves and my DoS this year is actually a Chemist.

    Regarding the funding issues - it's always been the supervisors mentioning it to us first, e.g. we'll say "would it be ok to have a revision supervision to go over all of this/ through some past paper questions" and they'll say something like "I'll have to double check with the college if there's funding for that", then come back saying that unfortunately they won't be able to do a revision supervision. I got the impression that they'd had issues in the past with getting college to cough up money...
    so they only do supervisions if their is funding? which means if the university are paying them I assume? as for a lot of subjects the only commitment is peoples time but obviously those taking the supervisions get paid.

    So what is the situation if 3-5 students want to get together and self fund the supervision? eg pay the guy taking the supervision to do extra ones. Is this out of the question or a possibility?

    Just curious.
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    (Original post by Luke7456)
    so they only do supervisions if their is funding? which means if the university are paying them I assume? as for a lot of subjects the only commitment is peoples time but obviously those taking the supervisions get paid.

    So what is the situation if 3-5 students want to get together and self fund the supervision? eg pay the guy taking the supervision to do extra ones. Is this out of the question or a possibility?

    Just curious.
    Yeah, they are paid to supervise undergrads - often they are PhD students looking for some extra income They are paid be each college, rather than the university as a whole, hence the issues I've been having...

    I've never heard of students getting together to organise self-funding a supervision, students don't usually have that kind of money lying around and I doubt many supervisors would feel all that comfortable private-tutoring some students separately from their university contracts. I guess it is a possibility though, I've just never heard of it being done. Also, you'd ideally want the extra supervisions to be from the same supervisors who usually supervises you for the course (so you don't have to waste time getting to know each other/ expectations/ academic level/ lecture content etc.) so you'd have to get them to agree...
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    (Original post by pairofjeans)
    Like you keep saying incorrectly! Look at your posts:

    "I'm just pointing out how a lot of universities have equally difficult material"

    "also, I would agree that it may be harder at Oxbridge, but not because of tougher content. The stress is likely due to the condensed semester length. What I do at my uni in 10 weeks, Oxford does in 8."

    First of all you back your entire argument up with an anecdote about your uni course in physics. First of all I don't know why you're assuming it must be the same with all courses across the uni. Second of all, your statements wrong anyway. What I'm sure you've done is just googled oxfords unit titles, saw they're the same as yours then assumed you did the same thing. You can see why everyone's disagreeing with you right now if you just look at what they actually cover within units.

    Then you keep incorrectly reiterating what sets unis apart is what they offer in later years. Where have you gotten that from? What exactly are you referring to by saying later years? After year 1? Go and google a first year semester 1 exam from Cambridge on something you think you've covered before.

    Like damn. It's ok to admit you don't know what you're talking about sometimes. I'm doing engineering. My friend at Cambridge occasionally rants about his own engineering work in our group chat. We're both in first year it's on structures. I can assure you that it's significantly harder content. Some of the stuff hes given just looks horrific.
    Haha. The problem here appears to be that you're in 1st year so you can't have a clue about what I'm on about when I say things vary and diverge in later years.

    I'm in 3rd year so I'm nearly finished.

    What I mean is, universities all cover the same basic material - possibly at differing rates - but the basic material must all be covered for a degree to be classified as a degree regardless of institution. This is fact. Take your argument to the institute of engineering, or whichever accredited institute for whatever degree course anywhere. It's fairly obvious to me that minimum standards exist for a reason.

    The fact that your mate at Cambridge is doing tougher stuff in 1st year simply means there'll be more time to do broader topics in later years. You'll catch up to him, but it'll be further down the line so you won't have as much opportunity to broaden into as many specialisms. That's the only difference.

    And so now I explain what I mean by this. Later years are where universities can teach in areas that their own staff specialise in. Oxbridge probably covers the lot. Other unis need to go with whatever they can get, or whatever niche they can get into, which largely depends on the professors they have working on campus, who are therefore able to teach the subjects that they're professors of.

    I said in an earlier post that my uni offers modules in advanced fluid mechanics, up to the geophysical level which very few other unis offer. York uni specialises in nuclear physics. I don't know about other degrees but overall it's just the way it is - different unis specialise in different areas.

    It's the variety of 'tougher topics' that sets a uni apart. I don't see what's so hard to grasp about that. The content of 1st year courses is largely irrelevant, other than to say, "This really good uni covers all the fundamentals in 1st year which leaves more room for a large variety of complex topics to be chosen from in later years", versus, "This really bad uni doesn't have enough qualified professors in any interesting areas so it just teaches the fundamentals at a slower rate."

    By the way, yes I did google Oxford uni physics stuff - it was sort of necessary to get to grips with the argument at hand. Their first year material isn't much different from anything I did (my uni is a fairly standard redbrick). However, correct to my original statement, the second and third year topics is where it diverged. Their advanced quantum mechanics was phenomenally complex. However their advanced classical mechanics course was not as detailed as the one on offer at my uni. I looked at the entire PDF for the course notes. And advanced fluid dynamics isn't available to Oxford physics students at all, whereas it is for me at my uni. These are all 3rd year topics. So there is an obvious difference between the two institutions, but not on the rather childish aspect of 'difficulty in 1st year' metric. The main thing showing the difference is what's available to be taught as specialisms in later years. This is because, as I said, uni courses from different institutions only properly diverge later on.

    You should have a look and see what optional modules your uni has available for you. I didn't realise at the time, a degree isn't necessarily just a specific timetable of courses for three years. After learning the fundamentals, you have to start thinking for yourself which direction you'd like to go in, with optional module choices having a knock-on effect on what modules you can take in later years.

    This also partly explains the American university system of minors and majors. Students can tailor their route with relative freedom from the start, which means one of the big measures of an institution's quality is on what courses are available to be chosen from. The UK system is actually very similar with the variety of optional modules that can be taken after 1st year; a degree can be quite well defined by these options later on. I think a lot of 6th form and college students in the UK aren't aware of this (I certainly wasn't). Applicants make arbitrary choices based on 'degree name' and 'university prestige'. For example (physics again, sorry), someone may hope to learn a bit of nanophysics in their degree, then be disappointed to find there's nothing aside from the basics because they didn't choose a uni specialising in that area.

    I hope this makes sense. The later year, specialist options on a course are hugely important. First year difficulty does mean something, but honestly not as much as you think. Not when, for example, you apply for for a job with the ESA and all you can say is, "Ah well space shuttle engineering wasn't available to me on my degree but I did do complex analysis in first year..."
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    (Original post by dragonkeeper999)
    Urgh, I could moan about practical marking for years...

    What college are you at??? That's such a great deal! I pay £5000 a year (admittedly for very nice, modern ensuite - not that I had much choice, the cheapest rooms in college are just over £3000 (but that's shared) or £3700-ish for a tiny, unrefurbed single room) and that's excluding meals, for something like a 26 week contract (basically, we can move in the Sunday before lectures start, get kicked out the Saturday after lectures end, and have to leave at the very start of May Week :'(
    I'm at Homerton, all of our ensuites are the same price and for third years they're pretty nice and big. The building all the third years are in is quite new too, <10 years old I think. I would really struggle to afford to live if I had to pay what you do.


    Yeah, all the bad ones were generally organised by my DoS - but whenever I have asked about switching supervisors/ some advice on what to do to get more out of our supervisions, I've always been told that it was really hard to find supervisors that year, all the good ones were already taken by their own colleges, none of them wanted to cycle up the hill (not that any of us have issues with cycling to another college/ the department anyway!), it was probably just a one-off issue so I should just give the supervisor another chance, etc. etc. It's got a bit better this year, probably because supervisions are now organised by the department/ ourselves and my DoS this year is actually a Chemist.
    It kind of sounds like your DoS wasn't doing their job very well. Only one of my supervisors has actually been from Homerton and I just have supervisions at wherever my supervisors are based. Getting around Cambridge is easy enough that I don't have an issue with it.

    Regarding the funding issues - it's always been the supervisors mentioning it to us first, e.g. we'll say "would it be ok to have a revision supervision to go over all of this/ through some past paper questions" and they'll say something like "I'll have to double check with the college if there's funding for that", then come back saying that unfortunately they won't be able to do a revision supervision. I got the impression that they'd had issues in the past with getting college to cough up money...
    Maybe Murray Edwards has that reputation so they're always cautious to check first.
 
 
 
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