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My parents want me to go to Cambridge...

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(edited 1 year ago)

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To put it simply- if you don't like Cambridge, don't apply. £9000+ wasted a year just to please your family is a bit ridiculous. I know this is probably hard, but you will have to be firm with them if they are pressuring you so seriously.
Original post by roo13
I'm sure this is the case for a lot of people, so I wanted to create a place where you could post your feelings and stories.

So I got good grades at GCSE and AS level- good enough that my parents think I should consider applying to Oxbridge. At the beginning I wanted to apply for myself; I thought that I should at least try and that it would be an amazing experience to go there.
Ever since going to the open day for Cambridge, my dad mentions me being a 'future cambridge girl' nearly every single day, and my grandma says that she will do everything she can to get me into Cambridge. My mum just said to me that I don't have much time for building up my cambridge application.

All these comments that are made daily, the continual reminders that I should go to this university has put me under more and more pressure to please my family. I'm starting to feel as if it isn't good enough that I get good a levels, go to university and get a degree, and that my parents will be disappointed if I go anywhere else. It feels as if they aren't encouraging me, instead they just keep pushing me.
I get stressed and anxious, sometimes finding these conversations frustrating and even annoying, because I realise this will keep going, and my family hasn't taken my feelings into consideration. On top of all the stress that is associated with the Oxbridge application I have to experience the way my family treats the matter.

Over time, I feel more and more like I don't want to go to Oxbridge any more because I don't think I will be happy there or that it will suit me, partly because of how much I feel like my parents are relying on me to go there.


If you don't think you're going to be happy there, then don't go. Also, if you don't think it will suit you, that will probably come across in the interview.

Your parents might not say it, but they're going to be proud even if you don't get into Oxbridge.

There are plenty of other world-class institutions in this country.
Wow we're the opposite, Oxbridge is my goal but my parents don't want me to go there :frown:
Original post by roo13
I'm sure this is the case for a lot of people, so I wanted to create a place where you could post your feelings and stories.

So I got good grades at GCSE and AS level- good enough that my parents think I should consider applying to Oxbridge. At the beginning I wanted to apply for myself; I thought that I should at least try and that it would be an amazing experience to go there.
Ever since going to the open day for Cambridge, my dad mentions me being a 'future cambridge girl' nearly every single day, and my grandma says that she will do everything she can to get me into Cambridge. My mum just said to me that I don't have much time for building up my cambridge application.

All these comments that are made daily, the continual reminders that I should go to this university has put me under more and more pressure to please my family. I'm starting to feel as if it isn't good enough that I get good a levels, go to university and get a degree, and that my parents will be disappointed if I go anywhere else. It feels as if they aren't encouraging me, instead they just keep pushing me.
I get stressed and anxious, sometimes finding these conversations frustrating and even annoying, because I realise this will keep going, and my family hasn't taken my feelings into consideration. On top of all the stress that is associated with the Oxbridge application I have to experience the way my family treats the matter.

Over time, I feel more and more like I don't want to go to Oxbridge any more because I don't think I will be happy there or that it will suit me, partly because of how much I feel like my parents are relying on me to go there.


I was weirdly relieved when I missed my Cambridge offer on results day this year. I know exactly what you're talking about. Some of my family have stopped talking to me since.
I always pushed myself to the nth degree, I did two extra subjects during my GCSEs, I did 4 a levels and an engineering qualification. And on top of all that I'm dyslexic. (I get 25% extra time in exams but not in life!)
I have so many home issues, and coped with it all until this year. When I got that offer I put myself under so much pressure (and my brother got really ill during exams), and so I only got 4 As. (I needed 2 of those to be A*s for NatSci.)
My school said "oh just phone admissions, they'll let you in if you ask". I phoned them, knowing that's not how it works, double checked I had been rejected and that was that.
But now my family keep telling me to reapply and resit some exams because a friend of mine is doing this (but she applied for history so it's kind of a diff situ).
It's awful the obsession people develop about oxbridge. (My dad was like "phone oxford they couldn't not take you through clearing" smh)
I'm much happier with the prospect of UCL as I will have time to look after myself. (I've put on 15kg since yr 10, from stress and lack of time for exercise.) And it will be a nicer pace of life. I didn't want to work quite so hard anymore or be hothoused. It's exhausting. I've been living on 5-6 hours sleep for 3 years and tbh I'd be glad to have a break from that.
I wish my fam would come to terms with the fact that although I have a MENSA IQ I am still a dyslexic student, and the odds will always be against me at the very top institutions.
(edited 6 years ago)
Reply 5
Regardless of your family what sort of feel did you get for Cambridge? You should use the same criteria for any university you visit - if it doesn't feel right then it isn't for you.
Original post by roo13
I'm sure this is the case for a lot of people, so I wanted to create a place where you could post your feelings and stories.

So I got good grades at GCSE and AS level- good enough that my parents think I should consider applying to Oxbridge. At the beginning I wanted to apply for myself; I thought that I should at least try and that it would be an amazing experience to go there.
Ever since going to the open day for Cambridge, my dad mentions me being a 'future cambridge girl' nearly every single day, and my grandma says that she will do everything she can to get me into Cambridge. My mum just said to me that I don't have much time for building up my cambridge application.

All these comments that are made daily, the continual reminders that I should go to this university has put me under more and more pressure to please my family. I'm starting to feel as if it isn't good enough that I get good a levels, go to university and get a degree, and that my parents will be disappointed if I go anywhere else. It feels as if they aren't encouraging me, instead they just keep pushing me.
I get stressed and anxious, sometimes finding these conversations frustrating and even annoying, because I realise this will keep going, and my family hasn't taken my feelings into consideration. On top of all the stress that is associated with the Oxbridge application I have to experience the way my family treats the matter.

Over time, I feel more and more like I don't want to go to Oxbridge any more because I don't think I will be happy there or that it will suit me, partly because of how much I feel like my parents are relying on me to go there.


I've been in this position myself for the past two years. I was never particularly interested in going to Cambridge and my parents' insistence that I apply just made me less keen... However, I didn't have a 5th choice for my UCAS application and figured I might as well do it, to keep them happy and to just see if I could get in. When I went for my interview (I hadn't bothered with the open days), I really really liked it, and suddenly I was taking it seriously and wanted to go. My parents were still harassing me about it (driving me mad!) and I am notoriously stubborn and so pretended like I wasn't invested. I got an offer, made it my firm, sat my A Level exams.... and was convinced I had flopped it and missed my offer. But due to my past academic record, no one in my family believed me when I said I didn't think I had made the grades. It was only once I actually sat down with my mum and dad and told them how much it bothered me that they stopped. It seems cliche, but truly the key to 90% of these sort of problems is to just talk to your parents and tell them you are uncomfortable. The vast majority of parents, if they care about you, will listen to you and change their ways.

In the end, I did manage to meet my offer, and now I'm happy to be going despite my past hesitance. Only apply/go if YOU genuinely want to be there - don't let your parents pressure you. If you don't want to go, that is YOUR decision and at the end of the day it is YOU who fills out your UCAS application and chooses which unis to apply to.
Reply 7
Oh sweet - I feel for you.

This might be an unpopular opinion but you've got 5 choices and Cambridge will only take up one. Put 4 of them as the Unis you really want to go to and apply to Cambridge to please your parents. If you get to the interview stage, you can always deliberately underperform so you don't get an offer.

I know the application is a lot of work, but try to think of it as extra prep for A Levels. You please your parents and you don't have to go there.
Original post by roo13
I'm sure this is the case for a lot of people, so I wanted to create a place where you could post your feelings and stories.

So I got good grades at GCSE and AS level- good enough that my parents think I should consider applying to Oxbridge. At the beginning I wanted to apply for myself; I thought that I should at least try and that it would be an amazing experience to go there.
Ever since going to the open day for Cambridge, my dad mentions me being a 'future cambridge girl' nearly every single day, and my grandma says that she will do everything she can to get me into Cambridge. My mum just said to me that I don't have much time for building up my cambridge application.

All these comments that are made daily, the continual reminders that I should go to this university has put me under more and more pressure to please my family. I'm starting to feel as if it isn't good enough that I get good a levels, go to university and get a degree, and that my parents will be disappointed if I go anywhere else. It feels as if they aren't encouraging me, instead they just keep pushing me.
I get stressed and anxious, sometimes finding these conversations frustrating and even annoying, because I realise this will keep going, and my family hasn't taken my feelings into consideration. On top of all the stress that is associated with the Oxbridge application I have to experience the way my family treats the matter.

Over time, I feel more and more like I don't want to go to Oxbridge any more because I don't think I will be happy there or that it will suit me, partly because of how much I feel like my parents are relying on me to go there.


I'm not surprised you don't want to go there now :frown: I think it's best that you try to talk to your parents openly about it, or at least hint to them that their pressuring is actually putting you off. With any luck, they'll be apologetic and reassure you that they'll be proud of you wherever you go, and you may feel much more relaxed about applying once the negative connotations have faded.
Original post by Anonymous
I've been in this position myself for the past two years. I was never particularly interested in going to Cambridge and my parents' insistence that I apply just made me less keen... However, I didn't have a 5th choice for my UCAS application and figured I might as well do it, to keep them happy and to just see if I could get in. When I went for my interview (I hadn't bothered with the open days), I really really liked it, and suddenly I was taking it seriously and wanted to go. My parents were still harassing me about it (driving me mad!) and I am notoriously stubborn and so pretended like I wasn't invested. I got an offer, made it my firm, sat my A Level exams.... and was convinced I had flopped it and missed my offer. But due to my past academic record, no one in my family believed me when I said I didn't think I had made the grades. It was only once I actually sat down with my mum and dad and told them how much it bothered me that they stopped. It seems cliche, but truly the key to 90% of these sort of problems is to just talk to your parents and tell them you are uncomfortable. The vast majority of parents, if they care about you, will listen to you and change their ways.

In the end, I did manage to meet my offer, and now I'm happy to be going despite my past hesitance. Only apply/go if YOU genuinely want to be there - don't let your parents pressure you. If you don't want to go, that is YOUR decision and at the end of the day it is YOU who fills out your UCAS application and chooses which unis to apply to.


What course?
As a parent myself I’m sure the intentions are good bit and this is a big but it’s not your parents going to the uni. It’s you. I had the same at senior school with both my kids. Many of their friends parents were picking the school for them. I had many a suggested word what again it’s not us parents going. You have to love the place you go. Feel it’s right for you and what YOU want. I am not saying they are wrong to suggest Cambridge. It has so many vendors for us and our kids both adore it and one is going this Oct and the other wants to apply for 2022. But it was their decision. Not mine or their Mums.

So take the advice but make your own decision but please visit the colleges and other Unis and so you can see why type of uni and course you want.
Original post by ProudPops
As a parent myself I’m sure the intentions are good bit and this is a big but it’s not your parents going to the uni. It’s you. I had the same at senior school with both my kids. Many of their friends parents were picking the school for them. I had many a suggested word what again it’s not us parents going. You have to love the place you go. Feel it’s right for you and what YOU want. I am not saying they are wrong to suggest Cambridge. It has so many vendors for us and our kids both adore it and one is going this Oct and the other wants to apply for 2022. But it was their decision. Not mine or their Mums.

So take the advice but make your own decision but please visit the colleges and other Unis and so you can see why type of uni and course you want.

Hi, thanks for the great advice! But this thread is 3 years old :tongue:
Original post by laurawatt
Hi, thanks for the great advice! But this thread is 3 years old :tongue:

Oops! I just saw it listed on my feed 😭
I know I am replaying 3 years after you posted this, but still good for the benefit of anyone reading this retrospectively:I am now in my mid 40s, didn't go to Oxbridge, but obtained a first class honours and a PhD from other universities (in mathematics).It may have been nearly 30 years ago for me, but the memories still feel fresh.I was a good student in my 6th form days, was certain about studying maths at university, and had a vision of studying at Oxford. However, as soon as I visited Oxford University on an open day, I knew this was not the place for me. I was rather more keen on Cambridge, (which is perhaps beside the point as far as the initial question is concerned.I decided I would apply to Cambridge, and also decided on four more choices over the following months. However, on the day of completion of my final application form, my mum put me under immense pressure to apply to Oxford instead. Her reasons being that my maths teacher thought I would be more likely get into Oxford than Cambridge. I had made the decision to stick to Cambridge at a reduced chance of success, but the pressure was exerted when I was completing my final application form, and unfortunately I succumbed to it.This is something I regretted from a few days afterward and ever since. The fact remained I did not want to go to Oxford. Obviously, one would not perform as well at an interview, not wanting to go to the university in question. I was 'unsuccessful' at Oxford, and very relieved when the letter came through - no more parental pressure to go there.What also concerned me is that they saw Oxford as a 'trophy' university, and kept saying things like 'I'd love to tell xxxx if you get into Oxford'. Or 'How will it sound if I tell my colleagues my son was offered a place at Oxford, but turned it down?'Off the back of all this, I felt relieved of my chance to apply to Cambridge, under immense pressure to go to Oxford, and that status was more important than what was right for me.While there are some undeniable pluses to Oxbridge (most notably the reputation of the university, and that your peers will be very good students as well), there are plenty of other great universities in the UK. You should NOT go to Oxbridge if it is not for you. At the end of the day, it's your degree, three (or more) years of your life, and you that is affected by your decision.So you must do what is right for you, and not make a decision to please family members, or just for the elevated status.I also find it easier to live with my own mistakes than those that I made as a consequence of others' advice.So do NOT go to Oxbridge if it's not for you. However, you can still apply there if it's not for you. Other universities you apply to will see you are an Oxbridge applicant, so may look favourably on this.You are not obliged to impress Oxbridge or to attend the interview if you are offered one.My biggest relief - I did not go to Oxford (and I still dread to think what would have happened if I had the offer)!
I know this is an old thread but I am a parent who is in the same situation. I have a son who is predicted A* at A Level but says that he doesn't want to apply for Oxbridge. He hasn't even visited the universities but said the application for Oxbridge is too difficult and a long process. Do you think it is unreasonable for us to want him to give it a go by putting in an application and visiting these places before completely ruling them out. Also, if you can put 5 choices on the application what harm is there in putting Oxbridge as 1 of them. We really feel that him just ruling it out he may regret it at a later date but at least if he gives it a go there will be no regret.
Firstly, he is predicted top grades, therefore, depending on his course, there should be an abundance of universities who would be delighted to have him on board.
I would encourage him quite strongly to visit both Oxford and Cambridge, and then see how he feels. I did not get a good feel from Oxford, but did from Cambridge (and regret applying to Oxford under pressure from my mother in particular).
It sounds like he is put off by the application process. If he could spare one of his 5 choices for Oxbridge, then I would strongly advise it. Other universities will see he has applied there, and may look favourably on him.
I would emphasise that he is not obliged to follow up on his Oxbridge application if he makes one, and should not be put under any pressure to follow up, or attend the university once he had made an educated choice not to.
By all means have the discussion as to why he is not keen, if this turns out to be the case, but respect his decision once reasons have been identified.
I made the mistake of taking parental advice, and believe to this day I knew best.
The other piece of advice I would give is to make sure he applies to a university which will make him a comfortable offer (well below the A*s) so that he has something to fall back on.
Further to this, I would say if he is not onboard with his application, he will not perform as well during the process.
Original post by DrMathsMan
Firstly, he is predicted top grades, therefore, depending on his course, there should be an abundance of universities who would be delighted to have him on board.
I would encourage him quite strongly to visit both Oxford and Cambridge, and then see how he feels. I did not get a good feel from Oxford, but did from Cambridge (and regret applying to Oxford under pressure from my mother in particular).
It sounds like he is put off by the application process. If he could spare one of his 5 choices for Oxbridge, then I would strongly advise it. Other universities will see he has applied there, and may look favourably on him.
I would emphasise that he is not obliged to follow up on his Oxbridge application if he makes one, and should not be put under any pressure to follow up, or attend the university once he had made an educated choice not to.
By all means have the discussion as to why he is not keen, if this turns out to be the case, but respect his decision once reasons have been identified.
I made the mistake of taking parental advice, and believe to this day I knew best.
The other piece of advice I would give is to make sure he applies to a university which will make him a comfortable offer (well below the A*s) so that he has something to fall back on.
Original post by DrMathsMan
Further to this, I would say if he is not onboard with his application, he will not perform as well during the process.

this is a three year old thread:s-smilie:
Original post by Help-999
I know this is an old thread but I am a parent who is in the same situation. I have a son who is predicted A* at A Level but says that he doesn't want to apply for Oxbridge. He hasn't even visited the universities but said the application for Oxbridge is too difficult and a long process. Do you think it is unreasonable for us to want him to give it a go by putting in an application and visiting these places before completely ruling them out. Also, if you can put 5 choices on the application what harm is there in putting Oxbridge as 1 of them. We really feel that him just ruling it out he may regret it at a later date but at least if he gives it a go there will be no regret.

Hi there! As someone who has been through Cambridge and now works there, I would recommend that your son thinks about what he wants from university. He should think about what he wants from the course (broad or narrow? Does he want to do a year abroad? Does he want to combine subjects? How would he be taught?) and from the university (how big? In a city? On a campus?) in order to help him think about the sorts of places he wants to apply. This will help not just with thinking about Oxbridge, but all the universities and courses he wants to apply to.

In terms of the Oxbridge application process being long and difficult, it certainly has more stages than applying to just about any other university (except, perhaps, for Medicine). I would, however, be surprised if this was the sole factor putting him off. If it is, there are plenty of resources on the both universities' websites to help and he can always email college Admissions Offices to ask.

If it's not, and Oxbridge could plausibly fit what he wants from a university, there's no harm in having a look round, either in person or online. Oxford and Cambridge are quite different to most other UK universities in terms of the teaching style they offer and the composition of the universities (being made up of colleges, rather than being one large campus, or spread across a city). It's important for him to get a sense of whether this might suit him before choosing whether to apply.

Remember, though, that this is his choice: if he doesn't want to apply, there's no need for him to do so. As long as he is making an informed decision, based on facts about the course content, its structure, the teaching and the university environment, then that's fine. It's up to him. He is the one who will be going through the application process and potentially studying there.

In short, Oxbridge doesn't suit everyone and that's ok. As long as he is making his decisions based on facts, rather than preconceived ideas or opinions he's heard from other people, then there's no harm in him choosing to apply or not to.
Original post by Help-999
I know this is an old thread but I am a parent who is in the same situation. I have a son who is predicted A* at A Level but says that he doesn't want to apply for Oxbridge. He hasn't even visited the universities but said the application for Oxbridge is too difficult and a long process. Do you think it is unreasonable for us to want him to give it a go by putting in an application and visiting these places before completely ruling them out. Also, if you can put 5 choices on the application what harm is there in putting Oxbridge as 1 of them. We really feel that him just ruling it out he may regret it at a later date but at least if he gives it a go there will be no regret.

You would have been better to make your own thread! But you've had a couple responses so we'll let it stand.

I would say that 'effort of application' is not an at all valid reason to not apply to a uni, and I think that is not the real reason. That gives you a way in to exploring what the real reason is. Could it be that he's scared of being rejected? Or he's worried about how it will look to others (a common concern - lots of people hide the fact they're applying to Oxbridge to not appear 'snobbish' and to hide a possible failure)? Is he worried about stereotypes, which are mostly untrue and certainly not limited to Oxbridge? Or is it something more valid like being scared of the workload, not liking the course, etc?

I'd gently explore the real reason and see if it can be addressed. Yes the first step if he's agreeable would be to visit, if able. Objectively, they're completely unique universities with colleges and tutorials, they have far more money than anywhere else which impacts on many areas, and their graduates earn the most in most areas - to not even consider it is pretty silly.

To not want to go though, is valid. If that's the case I'd support him in his decision.

Original post by DrMathsMan
I would encourage him quite strongly to visit both Oxford and Cambridge, and then see how he feels.

Sorry but I really hate whenever someone says this :tongue: 'How it feels' inevitably means things like 'was the specific student I spoke to nice and/or attractive', or even things like what the weather is like or how your mood was that day. In this case, if he goes in looking for reasons to 'feel' he doesn't want to go, he'll find them.

I always encourage people to be as broad as as objective as possible.

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