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Oxford would flag me as disadvantaged but I go to private school; what do I do?

Hi!

I've been thinking of applying to Oxford, so I was looking at the contextual data that they flag, which they say they use "to help us to better understand students’ achievements in the context of their individual background." One of these is POLAR quintiles, which show the rate of entry to higher education in each area. Anyone who lives in a POLAR quintile 1 or 2 area is flagged, and I live in a quintile 2 area, so I think it's safe to assume that I'll get flagged.

However, I got a scholarship to a private school for GCSEs and A-levels. Will they see that I go to private school and disregard / ignore my flag? I'm worried because for the whole first part of my education and for part of my GCSEs (I moved schools part of the way into them) I was at a state school, and I still get the disadvantages of living where I do; will all that be canceled out by the fact that I worked really hard and was lucky enough to get a scholarship? The admissions tutors will be able to see that I previously went to a state school because I gained a qualification there which I put on my UCAS. I was wondering if this would be enough for them to realise, or if I should mention my scholarship in my personal statement (which I don't really have room for at this point as my school's Oxbridge applications deadline is 3 September, so my personal statement is already done).

I know that my GCSEs, predicted grades, personal statement, etc are all more important than flags, and a flag alone won't get me an offer; I just want to make sure that my situation is being assessed accurately. As I mentioned, Oxford uses contextual data to "to help us to better understand students’ achievements in the context of their individual background"; I just want to know if my achievements will be compared against those of people whose parents have been paying for them to go to private school their whole life, even though my background is completely different.

Thanks in advance to anyone who replies :smile:
Reply 1
Maximising your grades at GCSE/ A-level through your improved schooling will stand you in good stead throughout your life and removes/reduces the need to explain context. Well done on your scholarship.

I would expect your polar quintile would automatically be taken into account.

I would suggest seeking advice from Oxford University on any specific recommendations (sorry can't be any more help here), but there is the opportunity in your teacher's reference to mention your circumstances. (X joined us midway through GCSEs on a scholarship........)
Reply 2
Original post by Marsus
Maximising your grades at GCSE/ A-level through your improved schooling will stand you in good stead throughout your life and removes/reduces the need to explain context. Well done on your scholarship.

I would expect your polar quintile would automatically be taken into account.

I would suggest seeking advice from Oxford University on any specific recommendations (sorry can't be any more help here), but there is the opportunity in your teacher's reference to mention your circumstances. (X joined us midway through GCSEs on a scholarship........)

Thank you!
Reply 3
Original post by maisie.rose
Hi!

I've been thinking of applying to Oxford, so I was looking at the contextual data that they flag, which they say they use "to help us to better understand students’ achievements in the context of their individual background." One of these is POLAR quintiles, which show the rate of entry to higher education in each area. Anyone who lives in a POLAR quintile 1 or 2 area is flagged, and I live in a quintile 2 area, so I think it's safe to assume that I'll get flagged.

However, I got a scholarship to a private school for GCSEs and A-levels. Will they see that I go to private school and disregard / ignore my flag? I'm worried because for the whole first part of my education and for part of my GCSEs (I moved schools part of the way into them) I was at a state school, and I still get the disadvantages of living where I do; will all that be canceled out by the fact that I worked really hard and was lucky enough to get a scholarship? The admissions tutors will be able to see that I previously went to a state school because I gained a qualification there which I put on my UCAS. I was wondering if this would be enough for them to realise, or if I should mention my scholarship in my personal statement (which I don't really have room for at this point as my school's Oxbridge applications deadline is 3 September, so my personal statement is already done).

I know that my GCSEs, predicted grades, personal statement, etc are all more important than flags, and a flag alone won't get me an offer; I just want to make sure that my situation is being assessed accurately. As I mentioned, Oxford uses contextual data to "to help us to better understand students’ achievements in the context of their individual background"; I just want to know if my achievements will be compared against those of people whose parents have been paying for them to go to private school their whole life, even though my background is completely different.

Thanks in advance to anyone who replies :smile:

Hi @maisie.rose

It’s great that you’re thinking of applying to Oxford. You’re clearly passionate and hard working; Oxford would be lucky to have you, and I’m sure you’d enjoy it.

I can relate to your position to some extent: I’m a current Oxford undergraduate, and I was also privately educated with scholarships/bursaries.

The poverty/private school mix is a tricky one. One the one hand, you will enjoy educational benefits not available to lots of other students, but on the other, your experiences growing up/in school will be affected by your otherwise underprivileged background. Both points are significant, but rest assured that admissions officers will take them both into consideration (particularly since moving schools in Year 11 is likely to have affected your GCSE performance).

However, as you rightly point out, past/predicted performance are far more important to your application, and you don’t get into university by accumulating ‘flags’. The good news is that the interview process is effective in getting to the core of your academic potential and how you think/respond in a tutorial-simulated setting, whatever your educational experiences.

Don’t put any of this in your personal statement, even your scholarship this is all material for your teacher’s academic reference.

My advice: put all your efforts into your academic performance/personal statement/admissions tests (if applicable) and try your very best at the interview stage. You could discuss with your teachers what material they should include in their reference, and if it would put your mind at rest email the relevant Oxford faculty to enquire. Beyond this, however, I recommend that you give this matter no further thought at all.

In summary, 1) Oxford’s meticulous admissions process will account for these things, and 2) it’s not nearly as important as... pretty much everything else.

I hope this helps.

OxMus.
Reply 4
Original post by OxMus
Hi @maisie.rose

It’s great that you’re thinking of applying to Oxford. You’re clearly passionate and hard working; Oxford would be lucky to have you, and I’m sure you’d enjoy it.

I can relate to your position to some extent: I’m a current Oxford undergraduate, and I was also privately educated with scholarships/bursaries.

The poverty/private school mix is a tricky one. One the one hand, you will enjoy educational benefits not available to lots of other students, but on the other, your experiences growing up/in school will be affected by your otherwise underprivileged background. Both points are significant, but rest assured that admissions officers will take them both into consideration (particularly since moving schools in Year 11 is likely to have affected your GCSE performance).

However, as you rightly point out, past/predicted performance are far more important to your application, and you don’t get into university by accumulating ‘flags’. The good news is that the interview process is effective in getting to the core of your academic potential and how you think/respond in a tutorial-simulated setting, whatever your educational experiences.

Don’t put any of this in your personal statement, even your scholarship this is all material for your teacher’s academic reference.

My advice: put all your efforts into your academic performance/personal statement/admissions tests (if applicable) and try your very best at the interview stage. You could discuss with your teachers what material they should include in their reference, and if it would put your mind at rest email the relevant Oxford faculty to enquire. Beyond this, however, I recommend that you give this matter no further thought at all.

In summary, 1) Oxford’s meticulous admissions process will account for these things, and 2) it’s not nearly as important as... pretty much everything else.

I hope this helps.

OxMus.

Thank you! I think my teachers have already written my reference over the summer, and hopefully they mentioned my scholarship, but based on both replies to this thread I think I will definitely make sure that that's the case. :smile:
I'm in the same exact situation, what ended up happening?
Original post by makaichandla
I'm in the same exact situation, what ended up happening?


Her only post after that point was a year later and about an Open University degree.

The thing to remember is that everyone's circumstances are different. It's not hundreds of other people who are all the same and then you who's different. They always look at everyone's individual circumstances. Post #4 is absolutely brilliant, especially "you don't get into university by accumulating flags". Some people seem to think that provided they've got an excuse for why they didn't meet a requirement that's equivalent to having met the requirement, for each and every requirement, and it just doesn't work like that.

If you want to go to Oxford, apply to Oxford - does it really make a difference whether someone else got in or not? You won't ever know whether their contextual flags were an issue.

Good luck!

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