I’ve just finished my first year as an Oxford History undergrad, AMA! Watch

Jak123
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Currently on holiday and need something to pass the time whilst I’m chilling out. Ask me anything you want!
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Notoriety
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What do you think is the end result of human colonisation of mars? Do you think we are the aliens, and they fear us?
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I’m_triene
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What’s oxford like? How are the exams and work load? We’re you under lots of pressure in your first year?
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Prussianxo
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What job you aiming for with your history degree
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Jak123
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(Original post by Notoriety)
What do you think is the end result of human colonisation of mars? Do you think we are the aliens, and they fear us?
That’s an interesting question and one I did not expect to come up, but let me try and break this down.

By ‘they’, I assume that you mean those living outside of Earth. I’m not sure that there is much on Mars atm (that we know of) that should fear us, but there is a possibility of ‘alien’ existence elsewhere I suppose that holds the same unwarranted anxiety that we do of unknown peoples.

‘Alien’ itself is a term that fundamentally meant foreigner but has now come to refer to extraterrestrial life. Others outside of our planet probably don’t describe us as alien but perhaps refer to us in a way that means ‘foreign’ in their native tongue as we describe them.

As to the end result of human colonisation, I have no clue. I assume that eventually we will just attempt to push further and colonise other planets, as most humans have done on our own for all of history.
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Jak123
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(Original post by elwesannabelle)
What’s oxford like? How are the exams and work load? We’re you under lots of pressure in your first year?
I often see these questions asked by prospective students and honestly, there is no true answer for most of them.

I found the exams and work load completely fine. I was doing about 3 x 2,000 word essays every two weeks and I’d spend around 9/14 days on these essays. That’s three days per essay, and I’d usually spend about 15 hours in total on each one. This doesn’t sound like a lot of work I know, and a lot of people do more. However, for 3/4 of my topics this year I was predicted firsts so clearly my workload worked for me. Others can spend like 10 hours per day for 3 days on an essay. It really does depend on how much you understand the topic/question at hand and how much of a perfectionist you are.

I actually liked this essay work format a lot. Usually you’d have an hour/two hour tute per week and the rest of it was just down to you in terms of writing your essay for the following week. This pretty much means you could work when you want. I was waking up at around midday all your and then working from like 2-5pm and then like 8-10/11pm. I loved it.

In essence, I wasn’t really under much pressure. The only major pressure I felt was that, out of the historians in my college, I was in the minority of historians that went to state school. My tutor told me at the start of the year I probably won’t get a first in my essays/prelims so that I shouldn’t get worked up about it because the private school students are working at a higher level. Just hearing that made me want to beat them tbh. I ended up being one of two out of all the historians to get a first in some of my collections and got told by one of my other tutors I should aim to hit the top 5% of students in one of my exams. But again, these sorts of things are just individual of how you handle it.

Have I missed anything you’re interested in knowing?
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Jak123
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(Original post by Prussianxo)
What job you aiming for with your history degree
I’m not sure. I’ll probably just do what 50% of other oxford students do and just apply to the top graduate internship schemes this year and hope they take me on after I finish I guess.

With a history degree there’s millions of jobs you can do (law, civil service, government, accountancy, investment banking, consultancy are the top ones usually) so I’m not worried when people tell me my degree isn’t useful. It’s fun to study and that’s all i really care about atm.
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2childmum!
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'I was in the minority of historians that went to state school. My tutor told me at the start of the year I probably won’t get a first in my essays/prelims so that I shouldn’t get worked up about it because the private school students are working at a higher level. '

I think this is disgraceful. These attitudes may well have influence the interview process - which is probably why there are more private school student historians. It is this sort of statement that puts state schooled students off of applying in the first place.
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Jak123
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(Original post by 2childmum!)
'I was in the minority of historians that went to state school. My tutor told me at the start of the year I probably won’t get a first in my essays/prelims so that I shouldn’t get worked up about it because the private school students are working at a higher level. '

I think this is disgraceful. These attitudes may well have influence the interview process - which is probably why there are more private school student historians. It is this sort of statement that puts state schooled students off of applying in the first place.
Unfortunately it is sort of true, state school kids usually aren’t as prepared to write essays in the oxford style. However, I did just achieve a distinction in my preliminary results so anything is possible, even for a state school kid like me!
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Husky018
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Are the other students from private schools, self-entitled jackasses?
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Jak123
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(Original post by Husky018)
Are the other students from private schools, self-entitled jackasses?
You will meet the occasional private school stereotypes, however, these are rare. Two of my closest friends at my college went to St Paul’s and Harrow and they’re some of the nicest people I’ve met. Don’t believe the stereotypes at all!
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Oxford Mum
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Good for you. You can come from state school and rise to become top of the year, if you are determined and hard working enough.

Yet another Oxford myth busted!
(Original post by Jak123)
I often see these questions asked by prospective students and honestly, there is no true answer for most of them.

I found the exams and work load completely fine. I was doing about 3 x 2,000 word essays every two weeks and I’d spend around 9/14 days on these essays. That’s three days per essay, and I’d usually spend about 15 hours in total on each one. This doesn’t sound like a lot of work I know, and a lot of people do more. However, for 3/4 of my topics this year I was predicted firsts so clearly my workload worked for me. Others can spend like 10 hours per day for 3 days on an essay. It really does depend on how much you understand the topic/question at hand and how much of a perfectionist you are.

I actually liked this essay work format a lot. Usually you’d have an hour/two hour tute per week and the rest of it was just down to you in terms of writing your essay for the following week. This pretty much means you could work when you want. I was waking up at around midday all your and then working from like 2-5pm and then like 8-10/11pm. I loved it.

In essence, I wasn’t really under much pressure. The only major pressure I felt was that, out of the historians in my college, I was in the minority of historians that went to state school. My tutor told me at the start of the year I probably won’t get a first in my essays/prelims so that I shouldn’t get worked up about it because the private school students are working at a higher level. Just hearing that made me want to beat them tbh. I ended up being one of two out of all the historians to get a first in some of my collections and got told by one of my other tutors I should aim to hit the top 5% of students in one of my exams. But again, these sorts of things are just individual of how you handle it.

Have I missed anything you’re interested in knowing?
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Jak123
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Indeed. You can add that into the ‘Demystified’ work you have completed whenever

P.S, well done on working on that for prospective students. It’s always great to have some form of reassurance prior to applying.
(Original post by Oxford Mum)
Good for you. You can come from state school and rise to become top of the year, if you are determined and hard working enough.

Yet another Oxford myth busted!
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Oxford Mum
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64% of Oxford students are from state schools, so no.

Glad Jak123 just told you that public school students are nice. Really, they are human beings, just like you and me. The only difference is that their parents have money. My sons went to private school, and they are not jackasses. Don't believe what you see and read about in the media.

I can remember somebody saying to an Oxford admissions tutor, "What about the public school kids?". The reply was "if you don't like them, that's your problem".
(Original post by Husky018)
Are the other students from private schools, self-entitled jackasses?
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Oxford Mum
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I have used that quote of mine actually in the book!!!

I posted my son's description of getting in for Oxford medicine and details of the course. The students loved it, so well worthwhile and it makes me very happy indeed.
(Original post by Jak123)
Indeed. You can add that into the ‘Demystified’ work you have completed whenever

P.S, well done on working on that for prospective students. It’s always great to have some form of reassurance prior to applying.
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2childmum!
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There are lots of levels of private schools as well. Around here we have grammar schools, and a couple of private schools that tend to take students that are deemed 'not selective' in the 11+. If they go on to do well at GCSE they tend to move to the grammar schools for A level. I know a number of students from these private schools, and they are indistinguishable for the state school children I know - and all different from each other. However, these private schools are not doing anything different in terms of essays etc from the state schools, so the assumptions that they are going to be somehow superior to state school students academically is simply not true. In actual fact, the students at the state schools are being set much more homework and being put under much more pressure than the private school pupils I know (although we do have a couple of very very pushy grammars near here).

Every student needs to be treated as an individual, and given the chance to prove themselves without assumptions being made based on their background. Well done to the op for doing so well in the exams - you have proved exactly that!
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rhysreeds
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thank you so much for the post!
was wondering which college you went to and what made you choose it? if it wasnt ur first choice when u applied then could you briefly describe some of the pros and cons of ur college from your perspective during your time there?
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Jak123
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No worries. I was pooled to my current college after originally applying to Peter’s but I’d rather not name it.

Honestly, I’m not really sure on the pros and cons of my college because I don’t know how different or similar it is to any others really. If I was you I’d just look at the college websites and looking through student reviews and general information. Colleges don’t matter massively so I wouldn’t get too worked up over it. I’d highly recommend going to some of the open days - it really is the best way to discover which college suits your needs.
(Original post by rhysreeds)
thank you so much for the post!
was wondering which college you went to and what made you choose it? if it wasnt ur first choice when u applied then could you briefly describe some of the pros and cons of ur college from your perspective during your time there?
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rhysreeds
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ah i see - i wont be able to make it to any open days prior to my application sadly so ill just be going through the websites. thanks a lot still
(Original post by Jak123)
No worries. I was pooled to my current college after originally applying to Peter’s but I’d rather not name it.

Honestly, I’m not really sure on the pros and cons of my college because I don’t know how different or similar it is to any others really. If I was you I’d just look at the college websites and looking through student reviews and general information. Colleges don’t matter massively so I wouldn’t get too worked up over it. I’d highly recommend going to some of the open days - it really is the best way to discover which college suits your needs.
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Jak123
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One thing I would recommend is to look up the academics working at different colleges and looking at what they specialise in. For example, if you’re a historian particularly interested in early China, try and look for colleges who have scholars that specialise in early China. Even though you have access to many scholars throughout the university, it’s always good to have someone close to where you’re living available to talk to about your interests
(Original post by rhysreeds)
ah i see - i wont be able to make it to any open days prior to my application sadly so ill just be going through the websites. thanks a lot still
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