username5288074
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This forum seems to be getting active and a fresh batch of year 13s are likely soon to be, or already are, thinking about applying to oxford.

I just want to say: don't believe the admissions hype.
Don't watch videos from these parasitic narcissists on youtube who can't go five sentences without mentioning that they attend oxford. Don't get caught up on thread after thread regarding admissions to try and win a numbers game - you won't get anything out of it. Don't focus on this process like it's the only thing that matters in the world because it's not and it definitely shouldn't be.

All the academic and logistical information you need is on the wesbsite. You can take virtual tours of colleges on the website and then, if you can, visit the ones you like and make a final decision. The student culture is not homogenous - you can find all sorts of people with all sorts of personalities and interests to compliment your own. There are well known issues: burnout, classism, stress...

Oxford and cambridge are not the only universities in the UK and they are not some kind of dreamland with a totally unique university experience. Don't let them loom too tall in your mind.
The process has a clear element of luck and does not reflect much about you or your potential. Think about it this way: many students who don't recieve offers go on to achieve Firsts at elite institutions (Imperial, LSE, etc...) while some who are placed at oxford go on to recieve 2:2s.

All that being said, the best thing you can do - rather than obsessing about this ordeal - is to improve in the subject you are applying to.
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SonOfAGeek
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I completely agree. Do your homework. Think critically. Ignore the hype and marketing spin. I’d also add don’t obsess about a specific college. Don’t focus so much on trying to get to Oxford that you forget to enjoy where you are and what you are doing now. Do not believe Oxford is a guaranteed passport to a successful career or happy life because it isn’t as many graduates will tell you. Above all don't let other people’s expectations or peer pressure make your decisions for you. One thing that is true is the student body is not the snobby, arrogant posh white Public School Tory stereotype. They do exist and thrive here as a noisy and visible minority but overall the student body is far more diverse. Everyone can find their niche.

Oxford student life can be tough and intense unless you are happy to join the party hard & hope to scrape a 2.2 or 3rd minority crew (in which case the opportunity to get involved in life beyond studying are good but not necessarily the best out there). The workload chews you up and spits you out unless you love what you are studying. Even if you do love your subject there are times when the Oxford grind can make you hate it. Don’t let that scare you away but be aware of the reality not the fantasy and apply with eyes wide open and with your head fully engaged, not just your heart.

My UG experience like most has been mixed. On balance I’m glad I came as I have been pushed intellectually and academically and made a small number of good friends. I know that my friends who went to UCL, Exeter, Durham, Kings et al all had far more free time and more social life than I could sustain in Oxford so there are also some regrets. Oxford is a nice place but it is quite small and dominated by the University. It is a very unique feel. Some absolutely love it and I can totally see why but coming from London I personally found it a bit claustrophobic and culturally a little limited, even dull at times.

If you are not super-competitive academically/in love with your chosen subject or if the social aspect is as/more important to you than academics or you want to experience a place with a cultural heart and soul that is distinct from the university then Oxford may not be the best fit. On the other hand if you love studying, love to compete, see social life as secondary to academic and thrive in a smaller, more ‘protected’ environment then you are a great fit. Most of us fit somewhere in between, loving some aspects but not enjoying others and that is absolutely fine. Life is complex and rarely perfect. Oxford is no exception.
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(Original post by anon2.718)
Oxford and cambridge are not the only universities in the UK and they are not some kind of dreamland with a totally unique university experience.
Oxbridge are definitely not a dreamland. They very much are unique though. There is no other uni with a (proper) college system, there are no other unis offering regular 2 to 1 tutorials. There aren't even any other unis that care enough about who they admit, that they actually bother to interview them.

Perfect - no. The best - not necessarily. Unique - yes.
(Original post by SonOfAGeek)
Oxford student life can be tough and intense unless you are happy to join the party hard & hope to scrape a 2.2 or 3rd minority crew (in which case the opportunity to get involved in life beyond studying are good but not necessarily the best out there). The workload chews you up and spits you out unless you love what you are studying. Even if you do love your subject there are times when the Oxford grind can make you hate it. Don’t let that scare you away but be aware of the reality not the fantasy and apply with eyes wide open and with your head fully engaged, not just your heart.

My UG experience like most has been mixed. On balance I’m glad I came as I have been pushed intellectually and academically and made a small number of good friends. I know that my friends who went to UCL, Exeter, Durham, Kings et al all had far more free time and more social life than I could sustain in Oxford so there are also some regrets. Oxford is a nice place but it is quite small and dominated by the University. It is a very unique feel. Some absolutely love it and I can totally see why but coming from London I personally found it a bit claustrophobic and culturally a little limited, even dull at times.

If you are not super-competitive academically/in love with your chosen subject or if the social aspect is as/more important to you than academics or you want to experience a place with a cultural heart and soul that is distinct from the university then Oxford may not be the best fit. On the other hand if you love studying, love to compete, see social life as secondary to academic and thrive in a smaller, more ‘protected’ environment then you are a great fit. Most of us fit somewhere in between, loving some aspects but not enjoying others and that is absolutely fine. Life is complex and rarely perfect. Oxford is no exception.
You have your experience, others have theirs.

I heavily prioritised non-academics, I definitely did not love preclinical medicine, yet i had no trouble getting a 2.1. I know others who could do high level sport, went clubbing regularly and got 1sts. I do not think people who liked to have fun were the minority at all, and I did not find it competitive.

From what I hear it definitely was harder work than elsewhere, though.
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username5288074
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(Original post by nexttime)
Oxbridge are definitely not a dreamland. They very much are unique though. There is no other uni with a (proper) college system, there are no other unis offering regular 2 to 1 tutorials. There aren't even any other unis that care enough about who they admit, that they actually bother to interview them.

Perfect - no. The best - not necessarily. Unique - yes.
You're highlighting the few differences and discarding the overwhelming similarities.
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(Original post by anon2.718)
You're highlighting the few differences and discarding the overwhelming similarities.
Nonsense. The college system in particular changes your entire way of living!

Tell me what the comparable differences are between say Manchester and Bristol, then.
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username5288074
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(Original post by nexttime)
Nonsense. The college system in particular changes your entire way of living!

Tell me what the comparable differences are between say Manchester and Bristol, then.
I'm not saying oxbridge isn't unique compared to other UK universities - I'm saying it's a UK university experience.
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(Original post by anon2.718)
I'm not saying oxbridge isn't unique compared to other UK universities - I'm saying it's a UK university experience.
So you're what, saying Oxbridge isn't unique compared to non-university experiences? That makes even less sense
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username5288074
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(Original post by nexttime)
So you're what, saying Oxbridge isn't unique compared to non-university experiences? That makes even less sense
I'm saying the experience of being a student at, say, UCL is not vastly different from the experience of being a student at oxbridge. You clearly think that colleges and tutorials are hugely impactful to the university experience for some reason even though colleges are like dorms and small-group teaching, though less frequent, does take place at other universities. I'm not going to continue this conversation futher as it's not the point of the post.
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(Original post by anon2.718)
I'm saying the experience of being a student at, say, UCL is not vastly different from the experience of being a student at oxbridge. You clearly think that colleges and tutorials are hugely impactful to the university experience for some reason even though colleges are like dorms and small-group teaching, though less frequent, does take place at other universities. I'm not going to continue this conversation futher as it's not the point of the post.
Then you are wrong. Being in a college with its own bar, student union, dining hall, academic staff, sports teams, is not like being in a dorm, and no small group teaching with 15-30 is not the same as with 2 multiple times per week. That is where most of your work comes from - it changes your work perspective and levels of feedback completely.

It surely is the exact point of the post? If not why would you mention it?
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username5288074
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(Original post by nexttime)
Then you are wrong. Being in a college with its own bar, student union, dining hall, academic staff, sports teams, is not like being in a dorm, and no small group teaching with 15-30 is not the same as with 2 multiple times per week. That is where most of your work comes from - it changes your work perspective and levels of feedback completely.

It surely is the exact point of the post? If not why would you mention it?
We clearly have different perceptions on what is and is not significant to the university experience.
I mention it as part of the message that admissions shouldn't occupy all ones thought because oxbridge isn't that significant.

You have a really irritating tone where you're convinced everything you say is fact and no other perspective is valid.
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(Original post by anon2.718)
We clearly have different perceptions on what is and is not significant to the university experience.
I mention it as part of the message that admissions shouldn't occupy all ones thought because oxbridge isn't that significant.

You have a really irritating tone where you're convinced everything you say is fact and no other perspective is valid.
Your entire social and living scene for the whole degree and main source of your work isn't significant? That is indeed something we disagree on.

If you perhaps had some points to make - the major ways in which other unis vary that is bigger than college and tutorial system for instance - maybe you'd have more luck "convincing" me. Instead you just resort to just insults though.
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SonOfAGeek
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(Original post by nexttime)
Nonsense. The college system in particular changes your entire way of living!

Tell me what the comparable differences are between say Manchester and Bristol, then.
The College System certainly did not change my way of living. I texted this comment to some of my Oxford friends and it was greeted with general bemusement. We mainly socialised outside college in clubs and societies because the college JCR quickly starts to feel like an insular clique. This is a shared experience amongst us across several colleges. I think the college ‘family’ suits some and not others as I noted.

Tutorial teaching (sometimes 1:1, max 3:1 for me) was the most uniques aspect of Oxford but I averaged under 1.5 hours per week across three years and fewer than 4 total contact hours per week including classes studying history. The science experience of a couple of my friends with lots of shared classes and labs was totally different to humanities where we basically teach ourselves with endless hours in libraries and some minimal weekly advice and direction.

I’m pretty much a self-starter but even I finished thinking the system of teaching humanities is excessively hands-off and isolating. To study humanities at Oxford you need to be happy working independently and setting your own agenda and timetable. If you crave interaction and regular discussion a weekly tute will not get it done for you. The punishing reading schedule in history, classics, English etc. together with the wide degree of option choice also makes it very difficult to establish and sustain student-led study groups to try to fill that gap.

i’m not here trying to discourage people or talk down Oxford as I’m a proud graduate but I do want people to see and hear a range of views and experiences including the stuff they don’t tell you in the glossy brochures or open days. That is surely a key purpose of TSR? OXFORD: The place, the college system and the method of teaching (especially in humanities) IS DIFFERENT and it follows that it will not suit everyone and that most of us have things we appreciated and other things we’d like to see changed.
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(Original post by SonOfAGeek)
The College System certainly did not change my way of living. I texted this comment to some of my Oxford friends and it was greeted with general bemusement. We mainly socialised outside college in clubs and societies because the college JCR quickly starts to feel like an insular clique. This is a shared experience amongst us across several colleges. I think the college ‘family’ suits some and not others as I noted.

I guess I only have the experience of one college, but most people at my college definitely got the bulk of their friends from college. Not everyone, and I think almost everyone had at least some friends from outside, but they were definitely the bulk of social groups. I do get the impression from TSR and elsewhere that this is more normal than what you describe, but you could definitely also argue that TSR hardly represents normality.

I do find it hard to believe that the college system did not change your day to day living though. Here are some ways in which it affected me - tell me if you did absolutely none of them:
Living in college accommodation for 3 years
Eating relatively frequently in Hall
Rowing
Other college sports
Other college societies - music drama etc (just in the audience for me)
Attend the college bar
Went to JCR events including BOPs
Voted in a college election
Went to speakers who had attended just for your college
Socialising with people in the year above or year below

All of the above are sort of possible without the colleges, but would either be quite different or a lot harder.

Tutorial teaching (sometimes 1:1, max 3:1 for me) was the most uniques aspect of Oxford but I averaged under 1.5 hours per week across three years and fewer than 4 total contact hours per week including classes studying history. The science experience of a couple of my friends with lots of shared classes and labs was totally different to humanities where we basically teach ourselves with endless hours in libraries and some minimal weekly advice and direction.
I can acknowledge that humanities must have been a different experience. I bet you still got substantially more personalised feedback than you would have got anywhere else though.

I'm a little surprised you think you'd have got much more contact time at other unis - complaints about low contact time seem universal, and are a few hours of extra lectures really that much use? - but I've little experience.

i’m not here trying to discourage people or talk down Oxford as I’m a proud graduate but I do want people to see and hear a range of views and experiences including the stuff they don’t tell you in the glossy brochures or open days. That is surely a key purpose of TSR? OXFORD: The place, the college system and the method of teaching (especially in humanities) IS DIFFERENT and it follows that it will not suit everyone and that most of us have things we appreciated and other things we’d like to see changed.

Don't disagree with any of that. You might not like Oxford at all! As you say, its very different, not something you will get anywhere else.
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Definitely don't get too caught up with the admissions game! It can be a waste of time. Spend that time prepping for interviews/ admissions tests.

I do have to say being in a collegiate environment, for me, makes a huge difference. All my tutors are from my college who run our seminars and tutorials, who we have dinners with etc. Most of my friends are from my college too, across many years because we all live on one big site. And it really starts to feel like home with hall, your own library, the bar, gardens etc all at your doorstep! I cannot say that this sort of experience doesn't exist at other universities, but I definitely would argue the collegiate system massively affects the Oxford experience -- at least for me. This might be something that changes for subjects like History where students are frequently taught by tutors outside of their college, or if students don't live all 3 years on one site.

And there are definitely people who'd enjoy other places to Oxbridge too! It can be very tiring.
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OxFossil
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The thing I'd add about college-based life is the significance of what is missing at Oxford. It doesn't seem to crop up much in discussion, because it's harder to see what isn't there...

For me, the single biggest negative is the absence of a centre where students from all over the University can come together to socialise, and which could be a focus for University-wide services and events. For some people and some things a college community can be just too small. Replace the poisonous Oxford Union with a decent bar and cafe, meeting rooms and welfare offices and you'd improve the chances for the only wheelchair user in their college to meet up with other wheelchair users, provide a place for the people looking to form a Sigur Ros-Sex Pistols-Taylor Swift tribute band to find each other, or simply somewhere to escape the cliques and the hacks of JCR life.
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barnetlad
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Thank you to the OP for raising this and for wise words from them and others. Universities are marketing themselves, just as every employer, business and anyone else after your attention is doing. What would suit you may not be what suits someone else, and remember you are unique and do not be concerned if your wishes are different from others you know.
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(Original post by OxFossil)
The thing I'd add about college-based life is the significance of what is missing at Oxford. It doesn't seem to crop up much in discussion, because it's harder to see what isn't there...

For me, the single biggest negative is the absence of a centre where students from all over the University can come together to socialise, and which could be a focus for University-wide services and events. For some people and some things a college community can be just too small.
Yes that is true - the absence of a central student union is surely fairly unique also! And probably a negative, I agree.

Replace the poisonous Oxford Union with a decent bar and cafe, meeting rooms and welfare offices and you'd improve the chances for the only wheelchair user in their college to meet up with other wheelchair users,
I used to go to the Union just to use the snooker tables. It was always absolutely dead. Imagine if they actually put that building and all that money to good use - would be such a resource!

Who actually owns it?

...provide a place for the people looking to form a Sigur Ros-Sex Pistols-Taylor Swift tribute band to find each other, or simply somewhere to escape the cliques and the hacks of JCR life.
...surely that is what the myriad of societies is for though?
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