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Stuart's Oxbridge Adventure Watch

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    Stuart's Oxbridge Adventure




    About Me
    Hi, I'm Stuart. This is my quest to grow my grades to AAAA at AS, and A*A*A*A* at A-level. It's probably unachievable - I don't care. I'm in here to give my damnedest, not necessarily to become a god-tier Oxbridge applicant. At the moment, I have done 11 GCSEs, and am awaiting mediocre results due to a long term illness I suffer. It should be an average of a low A, when I'm capable of better. I am a talented programmer, and have an above average grasp on the English Language. This is the foundation for my A-level choices, which were picked straight from the Cambridge recommended courses for Computer Science, which is ultimately the endgame.

    A-Level Choices
    • Mathematics - The basis for STEM.
    • Further Mathematics - I want to be pushed to my absolute academic limit, to prove to myself I'm worthy of a good University.
    • Computer Science - The basis for all my subject choices, and the subject I want to take at University.
    • Physics - Recommended course by Cambridge to supplement choices aiming for a CompSci Undergrad


    Standing Out to Oxbridge (Ignore this, bad info)
    Beyond studying, I need to stand out throughout my college career. Extracurriculars are according to the comments, no good way to show my passion for computer science. I read some bad advice online that said I should have three Extracurriculars to mention to a University: the academic one, the community one, and the interesting one. What that means is that I should have a hobby related to the degree I want, volunteering experience working with others in the community, and something to make me interesting. My academic hobby is programming competitions - a no-brainer considering my love of computer science. My community volunteering is as a Table Tennis Coach at my local club. This summer, I am taking a course to become UKCC level 1 certified, which permits me to be a 'proper' coach at last. Lastly, my interesting hobby is chess. I picked it up originally because, ironically, it seemed like a thing that smart people do. And I wasn't wrong. That's what everybody takes me for when I mention that I play chess.

    Why the Fixation on Oxbridge?
    I am a goal oriented individual. That means that I do best when I have a target to aim for. I'm not trying to put Cambridge University on a pedestal here, but it IS one of the most competitive institutions in the country, and probably the world. It gives me an incentive to excel in my studies that I just wouldn't have otherwise.





    Months 0-3 - The Summer




    June
    Life is moving. My goal is to develop my programming and mathematics skills as much as possible before term begins. To accomplish this, I have introduced a twelve (probably not) step program to keep myself moving through the summer. These are the resources I will be using to help me advance. As a goal oriented individual, I find the best way to keep myself moving is to find resources to 'gamify' my life. Visible progress, fancy bar charts, "points", "leaderboards". Call me vapid, but the appearance of progress is just as important as the actual progress for me. Here are my tools:

    • MyStudyLife - As well as being one of the best laid out timetabling apps I've ever used, it also comes with a graphical timetable(!) and the ability to track my progress through tasks. While I am using it minimally at the moment, I fully expect that it will come into its own once term begins. I use the homework feature to set myself deadlines to get to a certain point in my study each week. This keeps me from procrastinating my life away.
    • Khan Academy - The premier maths self-teaching tool, and for a reason. Fully free, gamification galore, and comprehensive for all the material I'll need going into college. I plan to complete everything in the highschool section, ideally including AP Calculus AB.
    • The Euler Project - Another free web based tool for me, this time to improve my programming skill. Challenges are mostly based around algorithms, and thinking in the right way, rather than a full implementation. Certainly a start.
    • CodinGame - Been using this site for quite a while. Among timed coding challenges against other players, there are also a large number of AI competitions. I made top 32 in MIT BattleCode in January, the same as and better than a number of university-student-powered teams, so I want to be ready for BattleCode 2018 when that rolls around. Also teaches more concepts than just rightthink.
    • Roblox Studio - Alright, hear me out. Please. Roblox is not the same cheesy game from 2008 that you remember. Ok, I tell I lie. It IS still that game, but it is also a lot larger now, and the development engine has come a long way. It is a good way to learn the full development cycle, in addition to basic networking principles that are good to understand.

    I've been making inroads into Khan Academy - I hope to have Mathematics I completed by the end of this month. Technically freshman year maths, but there are a number of things just not on the UK syllabus that I will need for A-Level. It is best not to leave anything I don't know behind. The stuff that I do is easy to breeze through. Cambridge here I come! I've decided to log my feelings about academia so I can track statistics.

    • Happiness - 9/10
    • Stress - 2/10
    • Confidence - 8/10
    • Motivation - 10/10
    • Exam Readiness - 1/10


    July
    Most of this month has been taken up by NCS, or preparations therefore. I have not been particularly impressed by the scheme, especially considering it could have been better spent learning a new skill, rather than playing the boring waiting game which far too much of it is comprised of. Regardless, I have made a little progress into my education, as listed below:

    • Khan Academy - The taster day for my College was on the 3rd, and cemented my course choices. The day was intimidating and exciting in equal measures, as the entire site is beyond labyrinthine. Class numbers are not linear and are instead dotted all over the building, meaning finding your class is just a game of corridor whackamole. One useful piece of information I obtained was the first topics being covered on the syllabus - Networking for maths, and Complex numbers for further. I have now completed all topics on complex numbers on Khan Academy, meaning I am ready in that regard. I have also made inroads into precalculus, now at 30% completion, with AP Calculus AB (US education scheme covers basically the same stuff) at 10%
    • Roblox Studio - I have finished 'learning' the Roblox variant of Lua, which took a while since the syntax is strange and I've never worked with a large object tree before. I can get down to real work now in development.
    • Table Tennis - My club is about to pay me £190 to become a UKCC Level 1 Certified Table Tennis Coach. Until I'm used to the role, I'll be working with young children. I'm not usually good with people, but I enjoy being around young children because it feels like all the social pretences of caring I usually am forced into just drop away and I can be myself.
    • Youtube - I picked up my hobby again of video production, and restarted my channel from six months ago. I've now grown to 74 subscribers with relatively rapid growth for a channel of my size.

    I have had a bit of a falloff on motivation. I'm stuck equidistant between school ending and school starting and it is lulling me into laziness and I can feel it happening. On the other hand, I'm not sure that is a terrible thing. Sometimes it is good to get the stress off my back. I just can't help telling myself I'm failing future me when I'm not working which is actually most of the day now. A vicious cycle consumes me. Oh well, at least I'm in masters at Overwatch now.

    • Happiness - 8/10
    • Stress - 0/10
    • Confidence - 8/10
    • Motivation - 6/10
    • Exam Readiness - 1/10
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    (Original post by Stuart Johnson)






    Stuart's Oxbridge Adventure






    About Me
    Hi, I'm Stuart. This is my quest to grow my grades to AAAA at AS, and A*A*A*A* at A-level. It's probably unachievable - I don't care. I'm in here to give my damnedest, not necessarily to become a god-tier Oxbridge applicant. At the moment, I have done 11 GCSEs, and am awaiting mediocre results due to a long term illness I suffer. It should be an average of a low A, when I'm capable of better. I am a talented programmer, and have an above average grasp on the English Language. This is the foundation for my A-level choices, which were picked straight from the Cambridge recommended courses for Computer Science, which is ultimately the endgame.

    A-Level Choices
    • Mathematics - The basis for STEM.
    • Further Mathematics - I want to be pushed to my absolute academic limit, to prove to myself I'm worthy of a good University.
    • Computer Science - The basis for all my subject choices, and the subject I want to take at University.
    • Physics - Recommended course by Cambridge to supplement choices aiming for a CompSci Undergrad



    Standing Out to Oxbridge
    Beyond studying, I need to stand out throughout my college career. Extracurriculars are a good wayto show my passion for computer science. I read some sage advice online that said I should have three Extracurriculars to mention to a University: the academic one, the community one, and the interesting one. What that means is that I should have a hobby related to the degree I want, volunteering experience working with others in the community, and something to make me interesting. My academic hobby is programming competitions - a no-brainer considering my love of computer science. My community volunteering is as a Table Tennis Coach at my local club. This summer, I am taking a course to become UKCC level 1 certified, which permits me to be a 'proper' coach at last. Lastly, my interesting hobby is chess. I picked it up originally because, ironically, it seemed like a thing that smart people do. And I wasn't wrong. That's what everybody takes me for when I mention that I play chess.

    Why the Fixation on Oxbridge?
    I am a goal oriented individual. That means that I do best when I have a target to aim for. I'm not trying to put Cambridge University on a pedestal here, but it IS one of the most competitive institutions in the country, and probably the world. It gives me an incentive to excel in my studies that I just wouldn't have otherwise.
    Looking good so far, re extra curriculars Cambridge really don't care about them (super-curriculars are slightly relevant) at all, just make sure you get the highest grades you can this year.
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    (Original post by HopelessMedic)
    Looking good so far, re extra curriculars Cambridge really don't care about them (super-curriculars are slightly relevant) at all, just make sure you get the highest grades you can this year.
    Finished my last exam today. Mediocre results assured due to my illness for most of my schooling life, including missing some exams. Hopefully that's gonna be under medication control next year though.
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    (Original post by Stuart Johnson)
    Finished my last exam today. Mediocre results assured due to my illness for most of my schooling life, including missing some exams. Hopefully that's gonna be under medication control next year though.
    I'm sure you'll do great, best of luck!!
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    I got expelled from school eight weeks before my GCSE exams (was allowed to go back in for exams), got b/c average results, moved to a new school, predicted D average and finished with A*A*A*A*.

    It's possible to do but very rare.

    The most important thing is to believe you can actually do it, completely disregard/ignore anyone saying you can't. I know if someone told me that I would go on to get A*A*A*A* after being kicked out of school and being told I wasn't smart enough for a levels at all I wouldn't have believed them.

    Good luck

    (never applied to oxbridge or the top 10 mainly due to GCSEs but also confidence issues, wish I could have gone to oxford for physics)
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    (Original post by lordofbutthurt)
    I got expelled from school eight weeks before my GCSE exams (was allowed to go back in for exams), got b/c average results, moved to a new school, predicted D average and finished with A*A*A*A*.

    It's possible to do but very rare.

    The most important thing is to believe you can actually do it, completely disregard/ignore anyone saying you can't. I know if someone told me that I would go on to get A*A*A*A* after being kicked out of school and being told I wasn't smart enough for a levels at all I wouldn't have believed them.

    Good luck

    (never applied to oxbridge or the top 10 mainly due to GCSEs but also confidence issues, wish I could have gone to oxford for physics)
    I'm also pretty sure they don't take someone who's been expelled? What was it for if you don't mind me asking and where do you go now?


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    (Original post by Lmacwilliam)
    I'm also pretty sure they don't take someone who's been expelled? What was it for if you don't mind me asking and where do you go now?

    Secondary schools do, obviously I didn't say I got expelled when I applied to my sixth form. I think I also lied about my GCSE grades since they weren't good enough, they never asked to see certificates.

    If you mean unis don't take people who've been expelled they probably wouldn't, but they didn't find out in my case and I don't think they can.

    Reason for being expelled was fighting constantly/being aggressive. Although in my defence I had severe depression for years due to stressful home, and after a while went from being sad constantly to being incredibly aggressive/bitter towards people.

    I now study at a mid ranking russel group uni, think AAB entry requirements. I don't want say the exact uni since this is quite a rare situation and don't want to be identified in real life.
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    (Original post by Stuart Johnson)
    Standing Out to Oxbridge
    Beyond studying, I need to stand out throughout my college career. Extracurriculars are a good wayto show my passion for computer science. I read some sage advice online that said I should have three Extracurriculars to mention to a University: the academic one, the community one, and the interesting one. What that means is that I should have a hobby related to the degree I want, volunteering experience working with others in the community, and something to make me interesting. My academic hobby is programming competitions - a no-brainer considering my love of computer science. My community volunteering is as a Table Tennis Coach at my local club. This summer, I am taking a course to become UKCC level 1 certified, which permits me to be a 'proper' coach at last. Lastly, my interesting hobby is chess. I picked it up originally because, ironically, it seemed like a thing that smart people do. And I wasn't wrong. That's what everybody takes me for when I mention that I play chess.
    The sage advice is wrong. Cambridge is entirely disinterested in non-academic, non-relevant ECs. So table tennis, for example, is of no bearing to a CompSci application. At all.

    Do these things because you want to, they interest you, they provide a healthly diversion from academics, but absolutely not to impress Cambridge. And if they take too much time away from academics then consider reducing them.

    Good luck with everything though!
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    (Original post by Stuart Johnson)






    Stuart's Oxbridge Adventure





    About Me
    Hi, I'm Stuart. This is my quest to grow my grades to AAAA at AS, and A*A*A*A* at A-level. It's probably unachievable - I don't care. I'm in here to give my damnedest, not necessarily to become a god-tier Oxbridge applicant. At the moment, I have done 11 GCSEs, and am awaiting mediocre results due to a long term illness I suffer. It should be an average of a low A, when I'm capable of better. I am a talented programmer, and have an above average grasp on the English Language. This is the foundation for my A-level choices, which were picked straight from the Cambridge recommended courses for Computer Science, which is ultimately the endgame.

    A-Level Choices
    • Mathematics - The basis for STEM.
    • Further Mathematics - I want to be pushed to my absolute academic limit, to prove to myself I'm worthy of a good University.
    • Computer Science - The basis for all my subject choices, and the subject I want to take at University.
    • Physics - Recommended course by Cambridge to supplement choices aiming for a CompSci Undergrad


    Standing Out to Oxbridge
    Beyond studying, I need to stand out throughout my college career. Extracurriculars are a good wayto show my passion for computer science. I read some sage advice online that said I should have three Extracurriculars to mention to a University: the academic one, the community one, and the interesting one. What that means is that I should have a hobby related to the degree I want, volunteering experience working with others in the community, and something to make me interesting. My academic hobby is programming competitions - a no-brainer considering my love of computer science. My community volunteering is as a Table Tennis Coach at my local club. This summer, I am taking a course to become UKCC level 1 certified, which permits me to be a 'proper' coach at last. Lastly, my interesting hobby is chess. I picked it up originally because, ironically, it seemed like a thing that smart people do. And I wasn't wrong. That's what everybody takes me for when I mention that I play chess.

    Why the Fixation on Oxbridge?
    I am a goal oriented individual. That means that I do best when I have a target to aim for. I'm not trying to put Cambridge University on a pedestal here, but it IS one of the most competitive institutions in the country, and probably the world. It gives me an incentive to excel in my studies that I just wouldn't have otherwise.
    Just to let you know, the type of extra-curriculars you talk about aren't important at all for Cambridge. They're interested in super-curricular (which means stuff related to your subjects but beyond the syllabus, like the programming competitions) but not sports and hobbies. Obviously if you enjoy them that's great, but if you ever find you're doing them just for the Cambridge application then stop, because they won't be helping you.

    Otherwise, sounds like a great plan!
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    Nice to see another aspiring CompSci, will you also be applying to the Suttom Summer School at Cambridge for 2018?
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    (Original post by mrProx)
    Nice to see another aspiring CompSci, will you also be applying to the Suttom Summer School at Cambridge for 2018?
    I hope so. With my illness however, there is a high chance that I will only make 3-4 A-A* grades (CompSci 100%, Maths 100%, English Language 75%, Further Maths 50%, Additional Science 50%, English literature 25%, History 15%. Approx odds IMO) so as not to be eligible. It makes me sad. If I had worked just a little bit harder in yr 9 and 10 I'm certain I could have pulled an A in core science. :/. High B instead.
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    Updated for July!
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    (Original post by Doonesbury)
    The sage advice is wrong. Cambridge is entirely disinterested in non-academic, non-relevant ECs. So table tennis, for example, is of no bearing to a CompSci application. At all.

    Do these things because you want to, they interest you, they provide a healthly diversion from academics, but absolutely not to impress Cambridge. And if they take too much time away from academics then consider reducing them.
    (Original post by sindyscape62)
    Just to let you know, the type of extra-curriculars you talk about aren't important at all for Cambridge. They're interested in super-curricular (which means stuff related to your subjects but beyond the syllabus, like the programming competitions) but not sports and hobbies. Obviously if you enjoy them that's great, but if you ever find you're doing them just for the Cambridge application then stop, because they won't be helping you.
    For Oxford, it's basically the same advice:
    (Original post by http://www.ox.ac.uk/admissions/undergraduate/applying-to-oxford/ucas-application/writing-your-personal-statement)
    There’s a myth that Oxford is looking for the most well-rounded applicants, and that you will only be offered a place if you have a long list of varied extracurricular activities. In fact, extracurricular activities are only helpful in so far as they demonstrate the selection criteria for your course.
 
 
 
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