The Student Room Group

Your Supercurriculars for Oxbridge

I thought we might want to use this thread simply to say what supercurricular activities we have done/are doing to get into either Oxford or Cambridge.
So tell us:
Your course
Your year (still in A-levels/IB or already studying at Uni)
Your supercurriculars
Did you get accepted?

Scroll to see replies

Original post by killedbytheib
I thought we might want to use this thread simply to say what supercurricular activities we have done/are doing to get into either Oxford or Cambridge.
So tell us:
Your course
Your year (still in A-levels/IB or already studying at Uni)
Your supercurriculars
Did you get accepted?

It’s good manners to lead by example...what are you doing?
Original post by killedbytheib
I thought we might want to use this thread simply to say what supercurricular activities we have done/are doing to get into either Oxford or Cambridge.
So tell us:
Your course
Your year (still in A-levels/IB or already studying at Uni)
Your supercurriculars
Did you get accepted?


Unless it's for medicine or veterinary medicine Oxford, Cambridge and most top universities (for other healthcare courses as well as the aforementioned) really don't care about extra/super-curricular activities, this isn't America. They couldn't care less whether you just go to school then sit at home as long as you get the grades and you're passionate about the subject you want to study. They're a waste of time better spent studying. So many people do Duke of Edinburgh, play sport, play music, volunteer, go to pointless work experience placements etc. so it doesn't make anyone special any more and universities know this.
(edited 5 years ago)
Original post by Glassapple
Unless it's for medicine or veterinary medicine Oxford, Cambridge and most top universities (for other healthcare courses as well as the aforementioned) really don't care about extra/super-curricular activities, this isn't America. They couldn't care less whether you just go to school then sit at home as long as you get the grades and you're passionate about the subject you want to study. They're a waste of time better spent studying. So many people do Duke of Edinburgh, play sport, play music, volunteer, go to pointless work experience placements etc. so it doesn't make anyone special any more and universities know this.


Super curriculars are subject specific experiences, work and studies. Oxbridge are very much looking for applicants who have explored their subject beyond their school curriculum.
Original post by Glassapple
Unless it's for medicine or veterinary medicine Oxford, Cambridge and most top universities (for other healthcare courses as well as the aforementioned) really don't care about extra/super-curricular activities, this isn't America. They couldn't care less whether you just go to school then sit at home as long as you get the grades and you're passionate about the subject you want to study. They're a waste of time better spent studying. So many people do Duke of Edinburgh, play sport, play music, volunteer, go to pointless work experience placements etc. so it doesn't make anyone special any more and universities know this.


In the Oxbridge Conference, they basically couldn't stress enough how important supercurriculars are to an application... Extracurriculars are a bit irrelevant.

See this: https://www.oxfordandcambridgeoutreach.co.uk/webinars/super-curricular-activities-and-
Original post by PQ
Super curriculars are subject specific experiences, work and studies. Oxbridge are very much looking for applicants who have explored their subject beyond their school curriculum.


So why on the open days I went to for Cambridge they said it didn't matter and in my interview nobody mentioned (as they clearly didn't care) about any work experience I had?
(edited 5 years ago)
Original post by Glassapple
So why on the open days I went to for Cambridge they said it didn't matter and in my interview nobody mentioned (as they clearly didn't care) about any work experience I had?


Because work experience is extra-curricular, not super-curricular. Super-curricular for maths, say, would be competing in maths Olympiads etc, which they definitely do care about.
Original post by PQ
It’s good manners to lead by example...what are you doing?


To be honest I am a bit stuck, which is why I wanted to ask others!

Original post by Glassapple
Unless it's for medicine or veterinary medicine Oxford, Cambridge and most top universities (for other healthcare courses as well as the aforementioned) really don't care about extra/super-curricular activities, this isn't America. They couldn't care less whether you just go to school then sit at home as long as you get the grades and you're passionate about the subject you want to study. They're a waste of time better spent studying. So many people do Duke of Edinburgh, play sport, play music, volunteer, go to pointless work experience placements etc. so it doesn't make anyone special any more and universities know this.


Showing engagement in your subject beyond school is very important when applying for Oxbridge. I don't mean sports etc. I mean subject specific out of school activities.
Original post by killedbytheib
To be honest I am a bit stuck, which is why I wanted to ask others!



Showing engagement in your subject beyond school is very important when applying for Oxbridge. I don't mean sports etc. I mean subject specific out of school activities.


What are you thinking of applying for?
Original post by PQ
What are you thinking of applying for?


English at Cambridge
Original post by killedbytheib
English at Cambridge


The answer shouldn’t be a surprise then: reading reading and reading.

http://www.myheplus.com/subjects/english Is worth a look, going to plays, watching tv adaptations and radio adaptations of a whole bunch of texts, getting involved in poetry performance/poetry slams might be worth a go if you enjoy poetry (if not then readings and literary festivals).
Course: Oxford Chemistry
Year: 2nd Year A levels
Supercurriculars: Chemistry Olympiad, L6 Cambridge Chemistry Challenge. (Just managed to scrape the lowest tier award available). Read Why Chemical Reactions Happen, only got about halfway before I had my interview.
Accepted: Yes I have an offer.
Original post by wombat746
Course: Oxford Chemistry
Year: 2nd Year A levels
Supercurriculars: Chemistry Olympiad, L6 Cambridge Chemistry Challenge. (Just managed to scrape the lowest tier award available). Read Why Chemical Reactions Happen, only got about halfway before I had my interview.
Accepted: Yes I have an offer.


Congrats!
Original post by Glassapple
Unless it's for medicine or veterinary medicine Oxford, Cambridge and most top universities (for other healthcare courses as well as the aforementioned) really don't care about extra/super-curricular activities, this isn't America. They couldn't care less whether you just go to school then sit at home as long as you get the grades and you're passionate about the subject you want to study. They're a waste of time better spent studying. So many people do Duke of Edinburgh, play sport, play music, volunteer, go to pointless work experience placements etc. so it doesn't make anyone special any more and universities know this.


You shouldn't be allowed to give advice. Super-curriculars are vital. Extra-curriculars not so.
Original post by Humz007
You shouldn't be allowed to give advice. Super-curriculars are vital. Extra-curriculars not so.


I read a couple of books and did the Maths Olympiad, that was obviously good enough. You don't need to do anything special.
Original post by Glassapple
I read a couple of books and did the Maths Olympiad, that was obviously good enough. You don't need to do anything special.


I'd say that Maths is a bit of an exception as they just want you to be good at Maths, which they can tell from the interview and by basing your offer on STEP.

For something like English (using OP as example), you want to demonstrate your wider interest in the subject.

I applied for Physics and I had a lot of super-curricular stuff but probably did well in interviews and entrance exams, so its a combination of both really.
Original post by Glassapple
I read a couple of books and did the Maths Olympiad, that was obviously good enough. You don't need to do anything special.


Ok, but doing the Maths Olympiad is a pretty big deal so you showed a lot of engagement there
Original post by Glassapple
So why on the open days I went to for Cambridge they said it didn't matter and in my interview nobody mentioned (as they clearly didn't care) about any work experience I had?


Work experience =/= supercurricular in virtually every case

Original post by Glassapple
Unless it's for medicine or veterinary medicine Oxford, Cambridge and most top universities (for other healthcare courses as well as the aforementioned) really don't care about extra/super-curricular activities, this isn't America. They couldn't care less whether you just go to school then sit at home as long as you get the grades and you're passionate about the subject you want to study. They're a waste of time better spent studying. So many people do Duke of Edinburgh, play sport, play music, volunteer, go to pointless work experience placements etc. so it doesn't make anyone special any more and universities know this.


This mistakenly conflates extracurricular and supercurricular activities: extracurricular = stuff like DofE, which you rightly identify as pointless; supercurricular = going above and beyond the school academic curriculum (hence the name). You must seek to go supercurricular when applying to Oxbridge

----

@OP as I said in your other thread, the best thing to do for English is to read degree-level texts. I made a big poster with two boxes for each century from the 14th to present day: one box was for poetry, one for prose. I aimed to have two texts/authors/poets I'd read and could talk about in each box (this demonstrates breadth of reading). I also delved more deeply into my specific areas of interest so I could talk at length about them (depth of reading). Additionally, I read a few essays written by English students at Oxbridge I knew to give me a vague idea of where the differences were between what I did at school and what they did at Oxbridge, so I could work on bridging that gap in advance of the interview.
Reply 18
Original post by Glassapple
I read a couple of books and did the Maths Olympiad, that was obviously good enough. You don't need to do anything special.


There you go. Was that so hard to mention?
Original post by killedbytheib
Ok, but doing the Maths Olympiad is a pretty big deal so you showed a lot of engagement there


For science too, extra reading is obviously relevant. I think an important principle is that it's not just the length or breadth of the reading/viewing/listening per se that is important, it's how far that enables you to demonstrate that you can see the subject in a wider context, and with a critical eye.

For example, in Biology, everyone mentions reading Richard Dawkins or watching David Attenborough in their PS. But that is not much good unless you can say how that deepened your understanding of the subject. The interview is an acid test of this. For example, you might claim to have read "The Selfish Gene", but if you are unable to respond to a question like, "So, in the context of 'selfish genes', how might a species like African hunting dogs - who often give up their chances to breed in order to help an unrelated other breed - evolve? Why don't they refuse to help and save their energy to breed themselves?"

I imagine this applies to English too - isn't the point of reading widely to enable you to articulate your ideas about how the novel form has developed over time, for example?

Quick Reply

Latest