(Original post by lili2000)
Hi! I've heard a lot about how if you attend Oxbridge that you're likely to get a better job. But my question is HOW?
If all of the 'best' jobs are going to Oxbridge graduates and then the slightly lower ranked jobs are going to the other top UK universities and below that going to the other Russell Group universities, then where does that leave the non-Russell Group Universities? Where does that leave the polytechnics and the metropolitans? With 500,000 students graduating each year I'm really struggling to understand what jobs all of these are going to be going into if all the good jobs are going to Oxbridge graduates.
So, if anyone attends Oxford/Cambridge, could you please suggest what it is that makes your University alumni more employable?
I'm really just confused about how the choices and your work ethic at around 18 is supposedly going to have such a great impact upon your career in the future, and how is that fair for the people who were smart enough to attend Oxford but just never had the drive to apply? Or people at worse schools who don't get in simply because they don't have the same teaching or resources, and hence lower grades?
Please can someone explain to me how a degree from a particular University makes you any different to the next person if you're both qualified with the same degree just from separate institutions?
1) What do you define as "best" jobs? Most prestigious? Pays the most? Not all Oxbridge students want or go for the most prestigious/ highest paying jobs, and at any rate going to Oxbridge does NOT guarantee that you will get a job, let alone a "best" one. You still have to work hard, do extra-curriculars, take on internships, perform well at interviews and assessment centres etc. This is true of any university student.
2) Realistically, there are some industries where going to Oxbridge is (probably) an advantage - investment banking, consulting, academia, politics and law come to mind (have a look at LinkedIn or firm websites to get an idea of where they typically recruit from). University prestige can be used as a sieving mechanism - the more prestigious (i.e. the more selective), the stronger the students are likely to be as a whole. Thought experiment: As a HR recruiter looking to fill 10 spots a year, why bother going to 50 universities when they can just target the top 10-20? Will they be missing out on some strong candidates that way? Probably, but at any rate they have so many good candidates just from the top 10-20 that they can fill the spots several times over as it is.
3) There's a broader argument to be made about the problems of meritocracy and unequal resources, but the bottom line is, the world isn't fair. Has never been and will never be. Some people are just fortunate to be born into better circumstances than others. Oxbridge try to make it more fair (e.g. access initiatives), but they cannot solve the fundamental problems of inequality (or lack of personal motivation, for that matter). And one's choices and work ethic at 18 do matter in some cases - many firms in my industry have an auto-filter for A level grades (often AAB or ABB).
4) @kkboyk also raises a good point about soft skills. I did Law and so cannot speak for other subjects, but I can honestly say that I don't think any other Law course in the United Kingdom rivals Oxford's in its intensity and quality (except Cambridge). I compared notes with my peers at other institutions and the amount of work I had to do to get my degree was far greater - nowhere else will you be forced to write 3 2000+ word essays in 2 weeks (and to do the copious amounts of readings that entails). Nowhere else will you be pushed that often in a very intimate setting (when there's only 1-3 people in a class, there's absolutely no room to hide) to really think about how you think, why you think and what you think.
All this practice means students typically end up developing certain desirable soft skills - the ability to think critically, to process large amounts of information quickly, to be articulate, confident and cogent when making arguments, to work under very tight deadlines and constant pressure and so on. Is this unique to Oxbridge students? Of course not. Do I think the tutorial/supervision system and the way courses are structured encourage the development of such skills? Absolutely.