What is the reality of Oxbridge?

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Zigzag843
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What is being in Oxford or Cambridge actually like in reality? How long time do you spend studying/reading everyday and how much pressure is put on you to get a first?
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c9yyy
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You have a bigger reading list and you do more work than a normal university. I wouldn't say there's a lot of pressure to get a first, especially during your first year since you're only required to pass. I wouldn't say there's much pressure in general since it's very difficult to get a first - it's considered almost impossible in Oxbridge.
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Doones
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(Original post by c9yyy)
I wouldn't say there's much pressure in general since it's very difficult to get a first - it's considered almost impossible in Oxbridge.
Cambridge and Oxford students have among the highest % of Firsts of any university.
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c9yyy
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(Original post by Doonesbury)
Cambridge and Oxford have among the highest % of Firsts of any university.
Yes, but there isn't as much pressure as people expect to get a first in the first year. There's definitely pressure to get a 2:1, but it's as daunting as any other uni. Well, aside from the pressure of being an Oxbridge student.
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MaxReid
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I've just finished my first year studying History & Politics at Oxford so can tell you about my experience.

The reality is that it's hard work, harder than you've ever known. I didn't handle it as well as others because I had a gap year before and hadn't done any academic work in that time aside from the HAT and pre-reading for interviews. The week before my first year exams I ended up in hospital because of a panic attack (yes it was that stressful). The welfare services and disability services are very helpful though and the college doctors will basically prescribe anything you need (I currently take Metoclopramide and Propanalol tablets for my anxiety and migraines).

The social life is very good too. I didn't drink until 2nd term but rapidly made up for lost time when I started. There's something for everyone in terms of nightlife and the social scene (extra-curriculars etc).

So yes it's tough, but worth it.
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Doones
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(Original post by Zigzag843)
What is being in Oxford or Cambridge actually like in reality? How long time do you spend studying/reading everyday and how much pressure is put on you to get a first?
Which course(s) are you considering?

When are you thinking of applying?

You've just missed some Open Days at Cambridge (not sure about Oxford) which would have been a great opportunity to speak to students and get a feel for the place. Have a look when the next ones are, or just visit. Most colleges will let you into public areas if you are considering applying.
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The_Lonely_Goatherd
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(Original post by Zigzag843)
What is being in Oxford or Cambridge actually like in reality? How long time do you spend studying/reading everyday and how much pressure is put on you to get a first?
It can be really variable. Like the other poster, I'd say the pressure is more to get a 2.1 than a First, though this of course depends on your tutor: how pushy they are and what they think you are capable of. A lot of time is spent studying (it's hard to say how much, this will vary from term to term and subject to subject), but there is still enough room for most people to have downtime/extra-curriculars, if that's what you're worried about.

It's a very hard slog, no doubt about that, but for many people, it is worth it :smartass:
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Serine Soul
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Totally depends on who you ask

For me, I'd say most of my day was spent on work, whether that was going to lectures/practicals/supervisions or doing supervision work, going over my notes etc. I'd say I still had time to unwind with friends at least once a week though

There hasn't been that much pressure to get a first yet from my DoS and supervisors, but they will hint at it and tell you that you are capable of achieving it every now and then. I suppose the biggest source of pressure are the people you hang out with - the type of people who end up at Oxbridge are usually very competitive and that can create an intense atmosphere. If you're like me and don't care much about how you compare to others, you won't be too affected by it
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Doones
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(Original post by c9yyy)
Yes, but there isn't as much pressure as people expect to get a first in the first year. There's definitely pressure to get a 2:1, but it's as daunting as any other uni. Well, aside from the pressure of being an Oxbridge student.
But you said it's nearly impossible to get a First. It simply isn't. Approx 30% at both get Firsts.

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OxFossil
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I used to be a lecturer at ANOther RG uni, and my daughter has just completed her degree at Oxford. The difference in how the student workload is structured was interesting.

At Oxford, you have a 1:1 or small group tutorial every week, and have to complete an essay for every one. In addition to the public exams, most people also get internal college exams which don't count towards your degree, but are designed for your college tutor to find out how you are getting on. The result of this structure is that you are always very conscious of needing to keep up with your work - it's really hard to cruise along under the radar at Oxford. I suspect there is also a selection effect - people who get to Oxford tend to be people who are used to working hard for tests, exams etc and often feel they have to "justify" being there - "imposter syndrome" is real thing for many Oxford students. I think the higher proportion of Firsts at Oxford (over 30% compared to around 20% UK average I believe) reflects this.

Conversely, at the uni that employed me, the workload was less constant, with some periods of slack and others of great intensity. Students who wanted to do well sometimes had to be more proactive in taking responsibility for their learning.

Overall, I do think the average Oxford student works longer/harder than the average non-Oxbridge.
But having said that, I knew many students at my lecturing uni who worked equally hard and who were equally able. And it is possible to get a First and still have a great social life wherever you go.
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Zigzag843
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(Original post by Doonesbury)
Which course(s) are you considering?

When are you thinking of applying?

You've just missed some Open Days at Cambridge (not sure about Oxford) which would have been a great opportunity to speak to students and get a feel for the place. Have a look when the next ones are, or just visit. Most colleges will let you into public areas if you are considering applying.
I want to apply for philosohy and theology at Cambridge in 2018. I went to the open day but I didn't get a feel for what student life is like. It felt like they were underplaying how hard it is and how difficult it is to get in.
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Doones
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(Original post by Zigzag843)
I want to apply for philosohy and theology at Cambridge in 2018. I went to the open day but I didn't get a feel for what student life is like. It felt like they were underplaying how hard it is and how difficult it is to get in.
Well thats probably fair comment. Potential applicants often need encouraging rather than discouraging

If you are on target for the typical requirements then you can be competitive regarding admissions.

I can't specifically comment on the course and workload but I'm sure others can.

Any leading university has a significant workload, but a key point about Oxbridge is the short terms does make things more intense, and the supervision/tutorial system is pretty much unique.

Most students do have to work hard to keep up, but they also have time to enjoy themselves too. And longer vacations too...

Also keep in mind the dropout rate is extremely low.

I guess, in brief, it's all a bit more full-on than most other universities.

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chazwomaq
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It's a LOT more intense.

I did NatSci at Cambridge. I compared my workload to friends doing similar courses at other RG unis. It was about 3 times as much. I worked about 50 hour weeks in the first year (this reduced in subsequent years).

I didn't have one supervision a week, I had 4. And for each I completed an essay or series of maths problems etc. This is a lot more than most university courses (and don't forget all the lab books, lecture reading on top of the 28 hours of scheduled teaching).

It was a lot harder than anything I experienced at school as a straight A/A* student. But, in the end, it was totally worth it.
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Appazap
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Most youtubers i've watched who go there say as the term time is shorter than other universities it is more intensive. Thats not to say people there never leave their rooms but it takes a lot of planning to make time for working and socialising. Just like for london unis youd need to manage money more, with oxbridge you'd probably need to manage time more
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obn
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At Churchill open day in April workweeks of 45 +h were mentioned.
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the bear
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for me it was work hard play hard. 6 days a week of lectures ( yes we are talking Natural Sciences, not touchy-feely studies :mad: ) after 2 hours rowing at the crack of dawn. then wind down at the pub/buttery with real ale + college Madeira. then 3 hours homework and a bedtime kebab. & repeat.
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black1blade
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(Original post by the bear)
for me it was work hard play hard. 6 days a week of lectures ( yes we are talking Natural Sciences, not touchy-feely studies :mad: ) after 2 hours rowing at the crack of dawn. then wind down at the pub/buttery with real ale + college Madeira. then 3 hours homework and a bedtime kebab. & repeat.
Living the life man.
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TheTechN1304
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I just finished my first year at Oxford. The workload very much depends on your subject; I study Japanese and we have a lot of contact hours (~12hrs of language per week plus lectures 3-4 times a week plus one or two tutorials) so it is quite intense. I came on to the course with quite a high level of Japanese, and so I don't study very much outside of classes (maximum of 3 hours a day). For the people on my course who are beginners, however, they are required to put in a lot of work outside of classes. There isn't really any pressure from the university to get a first (all you need to do is pass), however, pretty much all students aim for firsts, and a lot of colleges offer monetary rewards/better position in the accommodation ballot etc. for those who get firsts in prelims, so there is quite a lot of pressure, even if it isn't explicit.

I'm personally very happy with my life at Oxford, though I do wish terms were slightly longer, as fitting so much work into 8 weeks makes everything more stressful.
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TimmonaPortella
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(Original post by Zigzag843)
What is being in Oxford or Cambridge actually like in reality? How long time do you spend studying/reading everyday and how much pressure is put on you to get a first?
It's what you make of it. You'll spend plenty of time in the library but you can also have an active social life and do other stuff. I didn't notice much pressure to get a first but I suspect this is college and subject dependent. I know some DoSs are pretty insistent that their students get firsts but mine was pretty chill.

(Original post by Zigzag843)
I want to apply for philosohy and theology at Cambridge in 2018. I went to the open day but I didn't get a feel for what student life is like. It felt like they were underplaying how hard it is and how difficult it is to get in.
On the last part I suppose it depends what you mean by 'difficult to get in'. Statistically I suppose it is, but you don't really have to do anything difficult. For law I sat through a couple of 20 minute interviews, submitted an essay, and took a one hour test that couldn't be prepared for. You do your best and either make it or not. It's not inherently particularly scary or stressful, or difficult even.

On how hard it is, assuming you have some interest in your subject it's really not that bad. You'll spend quite a lot of time reading about philosophy and theology, but presumably you don't hate the idea of doing that.
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okey
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he said it was considered nearly impossible. not that he thought it was nearly impossible.
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