How much do UK unis take into account extra-curricular

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babushka777
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I know that in the US, admission into top colleges is very reliant on having good extra-curriculars as well as good grades, but how important is that for Oxbridge in the UK? I attend the Saturday music program at Junior Guildhall and am also on a few sports teams, and I wondered how much that would help alongside good grades. Thanks.
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mike23mike
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Extra curricula activities are a must for most degrees. For Oxbridge you need to have excelled in your extra-curricular activity. Thus if you are a runner then you needed to have run for the county (the state in US terms). If you are a mountain climber then you need to have climbed Everest. All Oxbridge applicants will have top grades; it's the extra stuff that will make the difference.
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babushka777
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(Original post by mike23mike)
Extra curricula activities are a must for most degrees. For Oxbridge you need to have excelled in your extra-curricular activity. Thus if you are a runner then you needed to have run for the county (the state in US terms). If you are a mountain climber then you need to have climbed Everest. All Oxbridge applicants will have top grades; it's the extra stuff that will make the difference.
Thanks for your answer, I just had a couple more questions following from it. Do you need to be good in a bunch of different things or can it just be one thing in which you particularly excell? Also, do Oxbridge value sports over music, or are they on a par?
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ageshallnot
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Perhaps we should bring in Peterhouse Admissions?

Oxford Mum might help as well.
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PQ
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(Original post by mike23mike)
Extra curricula activities are a must for most degrees. For Oxbridge you need to have excelled in your extra-curricular activity. Thus if you are a runner then you needed to have run for the county (the state in US terms). If you are a mountain climber then you need to have climbed Everest. All Oxbridge applicants will have top grades; it's the extra stuff that will make the difference.
I know it’s April 1st but it isn’t funny to mislead other applicants like this.

OP: UK universities aren’t interested in extra curriculars. Super curriculars - activities related to your degree subject demonstrating an interest and enthusiasm beyond the curriculum - are helpful (or required for some universities).

Hobbies aren’t of interest or beneficial.
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Sinnoh
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I mentioned grade 8 guitar in my personal statement. Here's everything that was said about it in my interview (at Imperial):

"Grade 8 guitar, nice"

What you should do is show how you express your interest in your chosen subject outside of the classroom.
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mike23mike
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(Original post by PQ)
I know it’s April 1st but it isn’t funny to mislead other applicants like this.

OP: UK universities aren’t interested in extra curriculars. Super curriculars - activities related to your degree subject demonstrating an interest and enthusiasm beyond the curriculum - are helpful (or required for some universities).

Hobbies aren’t of interest or beneficial.
You are so wrong PQ. Why not look at what UCAS say about extra-curricula activities. I was the admissions tutor at a UK uni for 3 years and the two things I looked at - even before looking at GCSE grades and predicted grades - were (i) the reference from the college and (ii) the personal statement. I used to have 3k applicants for less than 300 places and all the students who applied were in line to get the grades needed for the course. Thus the differentiators were the reference and the personal statements.
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PQ
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(Original post by mike23mike)
You are so wrong PQ. Why not look at what UCAS say about extra-curricula activities. I was the admissions tutor at a UK uni for 3 years and the two things I looked at - even before looking at GCSE grades and predicted grades - were (i) the reference from the college and (ii) the personal statement. I used to have 3k applicants for less than 300 places and all the students who applied were in line to get the grades needed for the course. Thus the differentiators were the reference and the personal statements.
I’d love to know which course and university this was that rejected applicants for not climbing everest or competing at county level in athletics. And why those sorts of hobbies were a good predictor of academic success on the course.

Did anyone ever explain Schwarz or SPA to you or mention widening participation while you were selecting for this course?
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Peterhouse Admissions
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Hi there!

We do not look at extra-curricular activities at all. By extra-curricular, we mean things like sports, music, drama, volunteering etc which are not related to the course the student is looking to apply for. We do, however, look for some evidence of super-curricular activities, by which we mean activities that are related to your subject. This could be things like additional reading that hasn't been set by your teachers but that you have chosen to do yourself. It could be doing harder maths problems, developing your own science experiment, watching documentaries or listening to podcasts, but crucially they need to be related to the subject you are applying to study. We're looking for critical engagement, so more than just passive consumption. We're also not looking for the most impressive things you can come up with, or the longest list of books read, but evidence that you have thought about what you've read on a deeper level.

There are two reasons why we don't look at extra-curricular activities. One is that they don't tell us how good you are at your subject or how interested you are in it! Having grade 8 piano doesn't tell us how good you will be at studying Maths or History, but that you've spent time entering a Maths Olympiad or a History Essay Competition gives us a better idea. Secondly, we recognise that access to extra-curricular activities isn't equal. If you have to have a part time job to help save up for uni or you have caring responsibilities, you'll have less time to do extra-curricular activities. Likewise, if your family has more money, chances are you can do fancier and more 'impressive' activities. If you live in a rural area, chances are you'll have a more limited range of options open to you for extra-curricular activities without travelling long distances. To try and even out these disparities, we don't take them into account when assessing applicants.

Hope this helps!
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Peterhouse Admissions
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(Original post by mike23mike)
You are so wrong PQ. Why not look at what UCAS say about extra-curricula activities. I was the admissions tutor at a UK uni for 3 years and the two things I looked at - even before looking at GCSE grades and predicted grades - were (i) the reference from the college and (ii) the personal statement. I used to have 3k applicants for less than 300 places and all the students who applied were in line to get the grades needed for the course. Thus the differentiators were the reference and the personal statements.
This may be (or have been) the case for some unis, but certainly isn't the case for Oxbridge and certainly hasn't been for at least the last decade.

That's not to say that we ignore the reference or the personal statement: both are important. However, we have other factors (interviews, contextual data, possibly Admissions Assessments) to go on and do not use extra-curricular activities as differentiating factors, as explained in the above post.
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Oxford Mum
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(Original post by PQ)
I know it’s April 1st but it isn’t funny to mislead other applicants like this.

OP: UK universities aren’t interested in extra curriculars. Super curriculars - activities related to your degree subject demonstrating an interest and enthusiasm beyond the curriculum - are helpful (or required for some universities).

Hobbies aren’t of interest or beneficial.
I'm with PQ on this. Oxford does give us some info about supercurriculars, but all relate to the subject and not stuff like grade 8 piano.

Supercurriculars don't mean anything unless they are related to the subject. For example younger son was a member of St John Ambulance but he is a medic. Elder son mentioned going for walks round the village, but that was because he loved nature, and wanted to appreciate nature as the Goethe character Werther did. He linked this in with his subject on his PS.

He did mention that he was a member of the Titanic society and was asked a question about it at interview, but it had no bearing on his getting a place.

I can remember seeing a book called "Oxbridge the real rules". It said that it really helps you get in if you are head boy/girl at your school. What utter tosh.

From what I hear (and correct me if I'm wrong) American universities are much keener on the high level hobbies.
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Oxford Mum
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(Original post by Peterhouse Admissions)
Hi there!

We do not look at extra-curricular activities at all. By extra-curricular, we mean things like sports, music, drama, volunteering etc which are not related to the course the student is looking to apply for. We do, however, look for some evidence of super-curricular activities, by which we mean activities that are related to your subject. This could be things like additional reading that hasn't been set by your teachers but that you have chosen to do yourself. It could be doing harder maths problems, developing your own science experiment, watching documentaries or listening to podcasts, but crucially they need to be related to the subject you are applying to study. We're looking for critical engagement, so more than just passive consumption. We're also not looking for the most impressive things you can come up with, or the longest list of books read, but evidence that you have thought about what you've read on a deeper level.

There are two reasons why we don't look at extra-curricular activities. One is that they don't tell us how good you are at your subject or how interested you are in it! Having grade 8 piano doesn't tell us how good you will be at studying Maths or History, but that you've spent time entering a Maths Olympiad or a History Essay Competition gives us a better idea. Secondly, we recognise that access to extra-curricular activities isn't equal. If you have to have a part time job to help save up for uni or you have caring responsibilities, you'll have less time to do extra-curricular activities. Likewise, if your family has more money, chances are you can do fancier and more 'impressive' activities. If you live in a rural area, chances are you'll have a more limited range of options open to you for extra-curricular activities without travelling long distances. To try and even out these disparities, we don't take them into account when assessing applicants.

Hope this helps!
Well, that settles it.
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Oxford Mum
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(Original post by babushka777)
I know that in the US, admission into top colleges is very reliant on having good extra-curriculars as well as good grades, but how important is that for Oxbridge in the UK? I attend the Saturday music program at Junior Guildhall and am also on a few sports teams, and I wondered how much that would help alongside good grades. Thanks.
If you were, for example, applying for music then yes, that would help.
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Admit-One
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Yes, just to reiterate that extra-curriculars would not be of interest to a UG application at all to be honest. If there’s some genuine link to the course, then maybe.
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