NR18
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So I’ve been offered a place at Oxford for History and Politics and I’m not sure whether I’m actually good enough to accept it. There are two main reasons for this:
  1. I’m not naturally smart. I’ve never been anywhere near the top of my class at school and can count on my fingers the number of times I’ve ever achieved full marks. The threads that I’ve seen where people ask this same question tend to be something like “I never had to put any effort in in secondary school and still got perfect grades, how will I adjust to the Oxford workload?” I am the opposite of this. I regularly had to do 8 to 10 hour revision days well in advance of my exams to get good grades in things like maths. During Christmas break of S5 (year 12 in England) I did this every day for two weeks with the exception of going to church on Christmas morning to get myself from literally failing maths (getting less than 40% in homework) to a safe A standard of nearly at A1 (Scottish version of A*) level. How will I cope with Oxford standard work when I could barely do Higher maths? It might be worth noting that I felt like I did less work in S6 somehow, even though I did more? That could have been because I actually enjoyed the work. For S6 I only did Advanced Higher English, History and Modern Studies (the closest thing in Scotland to A-Level Politics) and dropped maths and biology. I stayed in school every day in S6 until about 6pm to get more work done and during prelim (I think England calls them mocks) time I went to my local library afterwards to do more. If I had to do this much to get A1s/A2s in subjects that are supposed to be my strength how will I survive in a place where most people got all A*s without ever revising more than a couple of hours a day?
  2. I had to apply twice to get accepted. I applied last year and didn’t get in. My feedback told me that in the HAT, written work and passage-based interview I had gotten the average score of accepted candidates or better but that I had severely flopped my more conversation-based history interview and my politics interview. This gave me hope that maybe if I tried again and made sure my HAT and essay were exceptional and did actual interview prep beyond reading some articles while travelling to Oxford I might stand a chance as my other scores could help compensate for the interview scores that I knew would be my weakness. This strategy worked but now I’m thinking; if I had to put this much effort and strategy into getting accepted, am I actually Oxford material? Surely if I was actually good enough I wouldn’t have needed to do this much.

So to sum up, I’m not intelligent and wasn’t someone who immediately screamed “Oxford material!” In the eyes of the tutors. I want to go to Oxford and don’t really have a solid second choice, but I don’t want to end up as the laughing stock of my college. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
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liverninthered
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If Oxford gave you on offer then you're good enough. Whilst your concern is understandable, I'd say the fact you're motivated to do lots of work will simply help you when you go. Really you should see your offer as a recognition that be it by hard work or natural intelligence you are what they're looking for - especially as you applied to a pretty competitive course.
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C.shahriar
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Nah don’t go, their racist
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MusabKhan
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I say go, not many people get the chance to go to Oxford! Plus, it's not a thing of being naturally smart it's about working hard to getting good grades. Most people lie here anyway about their exams and stuff.
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OxFossil
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Sounds like Imposter Syndrome is kicking in early. If you like the look/feel of Oxford, and the course, and this is your only concern, then be brave and go for it. Many, many people waste much time and tears, convinced they are the dumbest in the University, that they got an offer by mistake, or that when discussing your application, the ATs had some sort of collective brainstorm and chose you on criteria completely different to how they chose every other candidate.

The reality is your ATs saw that your academic record showed you are someone capable of achieving excellence, had that confirmed by your HAT, recognised a person who was able to stick at their application despite an initial disappointment, and was a hard worker. They liked your attitude and "teachablility" at interview, and when they sat down to discuss everyone they had seen at interview, they agreed, "We don't want this so-called genius from Eton. We don't want the guy who won the Nobel Prize aged 14, we want NR18." Quite possibly, they set up a chant that woke up the whole college, "NR18! NR18! NR18!"

The point is, they don't pick people because they are "naturally smart", or who score 100% at everything without breaking sweat. They want people who are interested (and interesting), hard-working and resilient, and who show promise. That's you.
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Plagioclase
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(Original post by NR18)
So to sum up, I’m not intelligent and wasn’t someone who immediately screamed “Oxford material!” In the eyes of the tutors. I want to go to Oxford and don’t really have a solid second choice, but I don’t want to end up as the laughing stock of my college. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
You clearly are intelligent if you've been accepted, and I guarantee that there are many others who will feel the same as you. You will definitely not "end up as the laughing stock" of your college, that's not the kind of place Oxford is anyway! If you want to go then that's more than enough reason for you to accept your place. Go for it

And as per usual I agree with everything OxFossil said.
Last edited by Plagioclase; 1 year ago
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NR18
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(Original post by OxFossil)
Sounds like Imposter Syndrome is kicking in early. If you like the look/feel of Oxford, and the course, and this is your only concern, then be brave and go for it. Many, many people waste much time and tears, convinced they are the dumbest in the University, that they got an offer by mistake, or that when discussing your application, the ATs had some sort of collective brainstorm and chose you on criteria completely different to how they chose every other candidate.

The reality is your ATs saw that your academic record showed you are someone capable of achieving excellence, had that confirmed by your HAT, recognised a person who was able to stick at their application despite an initial disappointment, and was a hard worker. They liked your attitude and "teachablility" at interview, and when they sat down to discuss everyone they had seen at interview, they agreed, "We don't want this so-called genius from Eton. We don't want the guy who won the Nobel Prize aged 14, we want NR18." Quite possibly, they set up a chant that woke up the whole college, "NR18! NR18! NR18!"

The point is, they don't pick people because they are "naturally smart", or who score 100% at everything without breaking sweat. They want people who are interested (and interesting), hard-working and resilient, and who show promise. That's you.
Wow thanks for that mental image 😂
that’s such a nice thing to write, honestly, not used to hearing stuff like that (especially not from people who don’t even know me!). You’ve really calmed my fears I think, I’m much more sure about accepting the place now. Cheers!
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the bear
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if you enjoy doing History & Politics then why not go ? so much of our country's history and politics has been influenced by this magical yoony
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NR18
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(Original post by Plagioclase)
You clearly are intelligent if you've been accepted, and I guarantee that there are many others who will feel the same as you. You will definitely not "end up as the laughing stock" of your college, that's not the kind of place Oxford is anyway! If you want to go then that's more than enough reason for you to accept your place. Go for it

And as per usual I agree with everything OxFossil said.
It’s good to know that Oxford isn’t that sort of environment! Most of the things I’ve read online about people at top unis having bad experiences are from people attending places like Columbia and other Ivy Leagues in America (I guess there’s just a bigger market for things about uni stress and toxic environments over there) and I assumed that Oxford would be the same. I’m relieved to know it’s not at that level of extreme competitiveness
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username4355882
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To further calm your nerves, let me tell you, it isn’t as hard as you are making it out to be. It is full of ppl like you, trying to figure out their life and working hard. The brilliance simply comes from studying and reading. As long as you don’t slack off and are on top of your work (say no to procrastination), you will do well!
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username3434964
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(Original post by C.shahriar)
Nah don’t go, their racist
they're*
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harrysbar
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(Original post by Bill Nye)
they're*
It hurt me too
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MidgetFever
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Go for it! I know plenty of people that would kill to get into Oxford (myself included)


Even if you don't feel good enough, the best you can do is try, the same with any degree.
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NR18
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(Original post by MidgetFever)
Go for it! I know plenty of people that would kill to get into Oxford (myself included)


Even if you don't feel good enough, the best you can do is try, the same with any degree.
That was 100% me after my rejection last year 😂
That’s a really good point, thanks, I definitely won’t succeed if I don’t even give myself the chance to
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