Daughter won't let Cambridge dream go - need help! Watch

gillianmac
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Hi,

Last year after much stress and interviews, my daughter got offered a place to study English at Cambridge.

We were obviously all elated as it had been her dream for a long time and she put in so much effort to make it happen.

Unfortunately on results day, she missed her offer. Cambridge raised it to A*A*A as one interview performance was stronger than the other so gave her one higher instead of the standard A*AA offer. Her grades were A*BB, which we assured her were still very good grades and enough to get into her insurance, Exeter, just not what Cambridge were looking for.

She was devastated and decided to turn down the space at Exeter and reapply to Cambridge if she resat her A-Levels, while she would work in the meanwhile. Reluctantly, I agreed to this as she was chasing something she really wanted.

However, this time round, she was rejected from Cambridge without interview. She rang up and asked why but they didn't really give much of an explanation.

But, as Cambridge is seemingly the only place she wants to go to, she's decided to reapply again next year when she's got achieved A-Level grades of (hopefully) A*A*A*.

I've told her that she's being deluded but she keeps calling me unfair and mean; I just want her to see sense and see the Cambridge undergraduate dream is now virtually an impossibility.

Am I doing the right thing or is there anything I could say to convince her as she's dead set on reapplying again with achieved grades but I'm pretty sure that's futile.

Any advice?
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HRobson_BMC
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I think that you're doing the right thing. I'm afraid that i can't suggest what to say to her, but as harsh as it sounds if she couldn't get into cambridge the first two times it's a waste of time to try a third time. There are plenty of other excellent and prestigious universities left which would be delighted to receive a student with her grades.

I would worry that if she was rejected a third time from Cambridge it could be terrible for her mentally and emotionally. She needs to move on with her life, go to university and get a degree instead of doing a levels for the third time.

Cliche as it sounds, some things are not meant to be and this seems like one of them. I would suggest trying to find some potential universities and go to some open days, try to get her to see whether she would like to go there. Good luck.
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Admit-One
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I think it might be best for her to call Cambridge and get a clear understanding of the reason for her rejection on the second attempt. Additionally she needs to find out what their stance would be on a) a third application and b) applying with retakes and grades taken over 3yrs+.

Many higher ranked uni’s do not like retakes and quals achieved over more than one sitting.

I don’t think there’s necessarily anything wrong with her pursuing Cambridge again but it’s not the be all end all of her academic career. Even with her current grades she could get into a very decent insurance choice.
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The RAR
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Whilst I very much admire her dedication like I really do, I am afraid she needs to face the truth that Cambridge does not look kindly on resits, I mean she can apply for the third time again there is nothing stopping her, but don't be surprised if she gets rejected again.
I worry like the others said, she is going to have a mental breakdown when she experiences her third rejection.
Last edited by The RAR; 1 month ago
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gillianmac
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(Original post by HRobson_BMC)
I think that you're doing the right thing. I'm afraid that i can't suggest what to say to her, but as harsh as it sounds if she couldn't get into cambridge the first two times it's a waste of time to try a third time. There are plenty of other excellent and prestigious universities left which would be delighted to receive a student with her grades.

I would worry that if she was rejected a third time from Cambridge it could be terrible for her mentally and emotionally. She needs to move on with her life, go to university and get a degree instead of doing a levels for the third time.

Cliche as it sounds, some things are not meant to be and this seems like one of them. I would suggest trying to find some potential universities and go to some open days, try to get her to see whether she would like to go there. Good luck.
Thank you - I very much agree with it being extremely negative for her wellbeing if she's rejected a third time; even though I support her fully, I expect it is very likely she's rejected again. Unfortunately, rejection a third time seems to make her even more determined now. The fact she got an offer the first time round makes her think she's good enough academically I believe.

Just to clarify, she would be doing her A-Levels twice - resitting this year and then carry those grades forward when applying next year.

But I agree in regards to this not being meant to be. I've mentioned the possibility of going there for a Masters later down the line, but it doesn't seem to appeal.
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gillianmac
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(Original post by Admit-One)
I think it might be best for her to call Cambridge and get a clear understanding of the reason for her rejection on the second attempt. Additionally she needs to find out what their stance would be on a) a third application and b) applying with retakes and grades taken over 3yrs+.

Many higher ranked uni’s do not like retakes and quals achieved over more than one sitting.

I don’t think there’s necessarily anything wrong with her pursuing Cambridge again but it’s not the be all end all of her academic career. Even with her current grades she could get into a very decent insurance choice.
I think when she rang them to ask why, they just said they had many other outstanding candidates and she simply wasn't chosen. No more to it than that.

Would they know it to be a third application if she applied again? I admit, if so, it does come across a little desperate rather than ambitious and determined.

I've told her she could go almost anywhere with her current grades being equivalent to AAB but it's simply Cambridge or bust at this stage I'm afraid.
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Deggs_14
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If she was applying with A*BB grades that she achieved in 2019 a levels then I think she wouldn’t have been invited to interview as the minimum grades are A*AA as a standard offer. Did she apply with new grade predictions? These types of situations are unfortunate, but I think you need to hold a serious conversation with her that not studying at Cambridge is not the end of her academic career, like others have said many it is likely that she will have an excellent time at other universities if she were to go.

One can’t just keep resitting a levels. Unfortunately she needs to move on with her life, especially as Cambridge doesn’t look fondly at resits and repeat years. The fact that she had an offer the first time is excellent, but I’m sure she would have a great time at other prestigious universities.

I would not recommend applying for a third time, I think it’s just one of those hard conversations as a parent you need to have.
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_gcx
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Did she not email colleges in advance? They would've probably said that rejection pre-interview was likely, which would've probably slowed her down. I know someone who reapplied, (while resitting) got an offer, and got in after finding a college that would interview him.
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gillianmac
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(Original post by The RAR)
Whilst I very much admire her dedication like I really do, I am afraid she needs to face the truth that Cambridge does not look kindly on resits, I mean she can apply for the third time again there is nothing stopping her, but don't be surprised if she gets rejected again.
I worry like the others said, she is going to have a mental breakdown when she experiences her third rejection.
Thank you - that's why I'm in quite a difficult situation as I respect her drive and determined attitude but it just doesn't seem likely.

I am aware of the possibility of a mental breakdown, especially considering she was heartbroken when missing the initial offer and not getting an interview this time round.

She seems set on applying but then hopefully if she gets rejected again, it might make her see sense as harsh as that sounds.
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standard.solo
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Edit: as mentioned, you can bring her to university open days and let her explore options other than Cambridge
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gillianmac
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(Original post by _gcx)
Did she not email colleges in advance? They would've probably said that rejection pre-interview was likely, which would've probably slowed her down. I know someone who reapplied, (while resitting) got an offer, and got in after finding a college that would interview him.
I believe she applied to the same college as that was the one that was her favourite and she was set on. Perhaps, if she does reapply again, I should recommend that she interview each college?
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gillianmac
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(Original post by Deggs_14)
If she was applying with A*BB grades that she achieved in 2019 a levels then I think she wouldn’t have been invited to interview as the minimum grades are A*AA as a standard offer. Did she apply with new grade predictions? These types of situations are unfortunate, but I think you need to hold a serious conversation with her that not studying at Cambridge is not the end of her academic career, like others have said many it is likely that she will have an excellent time at other universities if she were to go.

One can’t just keep resitting a levels. Unfortunately she needs to move on with her life, especially as Cambridge doesn’t look fondly at resits and repeat years. The fact that she had an offer the first time is excellent, but I’m sure she would have a great time at other prestigious universities.

I would not recommend applying for a third time, I think it’s just one of those hard conversations as a parent you need to have.
She applied with new grade predictions but I suppose with the very stiff competition, it just didn't make a difference.

I've reiterated to her so many times that there are plenty of other great universities out there and I've tried to have the hard conversation so many times but due to her stubbornness, she doesn't seem to listen.

I think it's the prestige and old fashioned nature of Cambridge, combined with the fact she got an offer the first time that makes her so set on it.
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threeportdrift
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(Original post by gillianmac)
Thank you - I very much agree with it being extremely negative for her wellbeing if she's rejected a third time; even though I support her fully, I expect it is very likely she's rejected again. Unfortunately, rejection a third time seems to make her even more determined now. The fact she got an offer the first time round makes her think she's good enough academically I believe.

Just to clarify, she would be doing her A-Levels twice - resitting this year and then carry those grades forward when applying next year.

But I agree in regards to this not being meant to be. I've mentioned the possibility of going there for a Masters later down the line, but it doesn't seem to appeal.
You can pm any of the Admissions tutors that work on TSR when they are online and hold a conversation in pm. They will still be politically correct about possibilities, but I suspect they will also be clear about the general position on A level retakes. Try Peterhouse, Murray Edwards or Christ's Admissions when they are about.

Just make sure she's got some realistic options other than Cam next time round.

Sometimes there is just no reasoning with people, and maybe best to lay off and allow her space to realise the facts of the situation for herself, which will probably mean finding some previously unseen pitfall in Cambridge, cue teenage over-reaction and Exeter or Durham etc will become her saviour and no-one will ever be able to mention Oxbridge in the household again.
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_gcx
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(Original post by gillianmac)
I believe she applied to the same college as that was the one that was her favourite and she was set on. Perhaps, if she does reapply again, I should recommend that she interview each college?
I think reapplying to the same college is generally discouraged.

She should ask around multiple colleges for advice and whether she could make a competitive application with her resit grades whatever they end up being. (giving full context)
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squeakysquirrel
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(Original post by gillianmac)
Thank you - I very much agree with it being extremely negative for her wellbeing if she's rejected a third time; even though I support her fully, I expect it is very likely she's rejected again. Unfortunately, rejection a third time seems to make her even more determined now. The fact she got an offer the first time round makes her think she's good enough academically I believe.

Just to clarify, she would be doing her A-Levels twice - resitting this year and then carry those grades forward when applying next year.

But I agree in regards to this not being meant to be. I've mentioned the possibility of going there for a Masters later down the line, but it doesn't seem to appeal.
Ah I feel for you. My daughter applied to Oxford - had the interview and got rejected - despite having and getting predictions of A*A*A.


She went to UCL - her choice after Oxford.

She graduated with a first and applied to both Oxford and Cambridge for a Masters - got both offers ...... and then turned them both down.

There are other universities and having seen three children through degrees and masters, I am not sure that Oxbridge is the healthiest of environments.

Let her apply one more time but if she doesn't get in - let it go.
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Plagioclase
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(Original post by gillianmac)
Hi,

Last year after much stress and interviews, my daughter got offered a place to study English at Cambridge.

We were obviously all elated as it had been her dream for a long time and she put in so much effort to make it happen.

Unfortunately on results day, she missed her offer. Cambridge raised it to A*A*A as one interview performance was stronger than the other so gave her one higher instead of the standard A*AA offer. Her grades were A*BB, which we assured her were still very good grades and enough to get into her insurance, Exeter, just not what Cambridge were looking for.

She was devastated and decided to turn down the space at Exeter and reapply to Cambridge if she resat her A-Levels, while she would work in the meanwhile. Reluctantly, I agreed to this as she was chasing something she really wanted.

However, this time round, she was rejected from Cambridge without interview. She rang up and asked why but they didn't really give much of an explanation.

But, as Cambridge is seemingly the only place she wants to go to, she's decided to reapply again next year when she's got achieved A-Level grades of (hopefully) A*A*A*.

I've told her that she's being deluded but she keeps calling me unfair and mean; I just want her to see sense and see the Cambridge undergraduate dream is now virtually an impossibility.

Am I doing the right thing or is there anything I could say to convince her as she's dead set on reapplying again with achieved grades but I'm pretty sure that's futile.

Any advice?
You are doing the right thing. In the absence of a very good plan, I think delaying university entry for two years just for the sake of getting into Cambridge is a waste of time. I completely understand the perfectionist frame of mind that some students get into that you have to get into Oxbridge otherwise you're a failure, because I was in that frame of mind myself. Having been at Oxford for over four years now, yes it's a great uni and I'm happy to be there, but it's also clear that it isn't as special as many people think it is and there are many other universities in the UK that also take in bright students and provide a great education, and Exeter is one of them.

As difficult as it might be, she has to get over this obsession and move on with her life. I'm sure she'll have a great time at Exeter if she goes there and I doubt she'll have any regrets once she gets into the swing of things. I seriously would not recommend spending any more time trying to pick through what happened with her past applications and/or strategising on how to maximise her chances of reapplying because it isn't worth it.
Last edited by Plagioclase; 1 month ago
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Welshcob
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Or what about persuading her to try Oxford next time? They don’t seem to be so against resits. But if it is Cambridge, def try a different college. Poor you! Oxbridge applications are so stressful! My daughter is waiting to hear from Oxford.... and then if you get lucky, the stress of working towards/not getting the grades is horrendous! But I’ve def heard of an Oxford Eng appl who is doing a resit get an interview this year over on the Oxford thread, he phoned up and discussed his application first I believe.
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ohdearstudying
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Although I am a 2020 applicant I do feel for both you and your daughter. My parents often say to me that I need someone else to tell me the exact same thing that they say because it just falls on deaf ears. I can imagine your daughter feels as if you do not understand the process and that you dissuading her comes from a place of ignorance (it does not).

I think if she does apply she needs to be very strategic, I never planned on reapplying so I wanted to do it for the first time (this year) properly. I would suggest she writes a basic email and changes a few key details and sees the responses she gets. What I would advise her to do is to call, I called about 10 different colleges and formed a shortlist from who I got the best vibe from. Also, at the Open Day interactions are important. I am not suggesting at all that if she does x, y and z she will get in but merely applying for 'where you like' is sometimes not enough. I would suggest she talks to as many people from admissions and sees where she gets the most positive reception from (college wise).

As mentioned previously she should ask many, the colleges I was initially set on applying to was Trinity and Corpus Christi, after doing more research I knew it was not in my best interest to apply there. Arguably, a lot of what I am saying is based on rumours but this was how I personally saw the process, I am not sure whether it was the right way to do so as I am yet to hear a decision.

Have you spoken to any of her teachers at school, or have they spoken to her? At least at my school, they were giving many reality checks to students who may have had the grades but they flatly said would be rejected. I can understand the issue with that a) it is not their place and b) it can spur people on to apply and sometimes they get really far in the process.

As a 17 year old, what you are saying does not sound unlike what my parents would say. In fact, when I mentioned to my mother about reapplying if I got rejected she suggested I waited and saw how I felt at another point in the year - I see that was what you were trying to do...but you are now three years along and it is a bit too much. I think your daughter needs a reality check from someone, preferably Cambridge. You can always feel like you can do something differently, I feel that is the cycle she is trapped in, every time she (somewhat) reflects and feels she did herself a disservice and reapplies. I met an individual at a Nottingham open day who had an offer to read Law at Oxford (he went to a super prestigious boys' school in London so Oxbridge was the be all an end all) and he missed his offer by two grades, I think the difference between him (or the impression I got) was that he was more than happy to go to his insurance, I can imagine your daughter has romanticised Cambridge to the point she cannot see herself anywhere else - which is the case for many applicants.

Just keep doing what you are doing, you are an amazing parent
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Muttley79
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(Original post by gillianmac)
She applied with new grade predictions but I suppose with the very stiff competition, it just didn't make a difference.

I've reiterated to her so many times that there are plenty of other great universities out there and I've tried to have the hard conversation so many times but due to her stubbornness, she doesn't seem to listen.

I think it's the prestige and old fashioned nature of Cambridge, combined with the fact she got an offer the first time that makes her so set on it.
Would she listen to a teacher or a tutor? She really stands no chance if she has been rejected before interview this time.

She need to do a degree elsewhere and look at Cambridge for a Masters - really hope you can get her to understand.
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PQ
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I think you’re in a situation where you have to support her applying post resits. If you talk her out of it then she’ll blame you for the regret. Until SHE decides that she’s done all she has then you won’t persuade her to try something else instead.

Support her, help her maximise her chances but at the same time try to expose her to other options. Does she have any thoughts about what sort of career she’d like? Getting some good work experiences and placements for this summer and her gap year is likely to expose her to a bunch of new role models with different backgrounds - something that might get her excited about a different degree or university completely.
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