Don't Want to Go to Oxbridge - Horrible Anxiety and Depression, Parents Forcing Me

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Anonymous #1
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So I have an offer to study History at Oxbridge (want to preserve anonymity so won't name the uni/college) which I have accepted and I start in 3 weeks. However, I really don't want to go. I don't ​enjoy history - I mainly applied because my teachers told me to. Also, I hate the idea of Oxbridge and the super intense workload. I expect I will be independently reading all by myself for 6hrs+ every single day. I enjoy going out with friends and having time off but I think this will be rare at Oxbridge.

I received my reading list and it is very long. I am currently reading 6hrs a day to get through it as I am an extremely slow reader. I feel like a shell of a person right now and I have no time for anything else. It is also disheartening to know that what takes me 3 hours to read would take most others 1 hour. I am not eating or sleeping very well and I cry at least once an hour. I literally wake up crying and fall asleep crying.

I also know I am going to hate every module I study this year because I'm using them to fulfil the time and geographical requirements of the course. If it was up to me, I would just withdraw my place now and reapply for 2022. However, my parents and school are pretty much forcing me to try first term or a few weeks and then they'd let me drop out and reapply if I need to. I understand their POV, and part of me agrees that I should at least try it in case I regret it. However, mentally I am just not coping at all. I would be going for everyone else but myself. At home at least I have a support system but when I'm at Oxbridge I will be far away from everyone with no real friends.

Also, I think I want to be a teacher so having a degree from Oxbridge vs somewhere like Nottingham or UCL etc would not make a difference. If I reapplied for 2022 I would consider a BA in Education, or a BA in History or possibly Theology at a less intense university. I am an academically driven person (8 9s at GCSE, 4 A*s at A level, top of my classes) but this is because I am very good at memorising things and obviously an Oxbridge history course would be very different and more self taught. I HATE reading and never did it outside of my studies (I am aware this is rare for an Oxbridge student, another reason I don’t feel it is right for me) but this is what 95% of my degree will be. I don’t even want to go to university at all, but know I need to to get a decent career.

P.S. I have a lot of mental health issues (as you may be able to tell from the post) and am seeking counselling but ofc it doesn't just magically solve my problems.
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Trinculo
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For someone going to Cambridge, you don't seem to know very much about what it's like there.
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Anonymous #1
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(Original post by Trinculo)
For someone going to Cambridge, you don't seem to know very much about what it's like there.
I'm mainly going off what college parents and people in the year their second and third years have told me.
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one_two_three
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I think you should at least try a term. You have a lot of preconceptions that seem unrealistic. It is more prestigious and, compared to some universities, a little more intense. However, I think other uni's require you to be a lot more self-taught than Oxbridge and a lot more motivated due to class sizes. It is difficult to hide at Oxbridge so you have to prepare, whereas, at other universities class sizes are often larger and so you can relax a little more and not do as much work. Equally, that will be reflected in the grade you achieve. From what I have read, you are not particularly self-motivated and so to an extent, Oxbridge is ideal for you.

If there was no social life or anything at Oxbridge then people would not go there. Just open your mind up and throw yourself into it and make your own experience. If it is not what you want then move to another university.
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Trinculo
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(Original post by Anonymous)
I'm mainly going off what college parents and people in the year their second and third years have told me.
There is more than one issue going on here.

First, you think there is too much work at Cambs.

Second, that you think you will enjoy it more somewhere else ("like Notts or UCL")

Third, that you will be far from home and your friends.

Do you have friends at Nottingham and UCL, but none at Cambridge? Either way, going to university is very rarely about maintaining the friendships you had from home or school - it's almos always about meeting new people. Even if 5 close friends were going to UCL, chances are you and they would want to make new ones.

On the work issue - of course it's a bit more work at Cambridge because of the nature of the tutorial system. But the idea of 6 hours a day on your own is ludicrous. Maybe an hour writing your notes, an hour or so doing some reading per day - and then three hours per week (each) writing your essays for supervision? Add on top of that if you really want to, but that won't come close to 6 hours a day. And not all of that has to be on your own. Who on earth thought you'd be doing it by yourself?
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GAMER12
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(Original post by Anonymous)
So I have an offer to study History at Oxbridge (want to preserve anonymity so won't name the uni/college) which I have accepted and I start in 3 weeks. However, I really don't want to go. I don't enjoy history - I mainly applied because my teachers told me to. Also, I hate the idea of Oxbridge and the super intense workload. I expect I will be independently reading all by myself for 6hrs+ every single day. I enjoy going out with friends and having time off but I think this will be rare at Oxbridge.

I received my reading list and it is very long. I am currently reading 6hrs a day to get through it as I am an extremely slow reader. I feel like a shell of a person right now and I have no time for anything else. It is also disheartening to know that what takes me 3 hours to read would take most others 1 hour. I am not eating or sleeping very well and I cry at least once an hour. I literally wake up crying and fall asleep crying.

I also know I am going to hate every module I study this year because I'm using them to fulfil the time and geographical requirements of the course. If it was up to me, I would just withdraw my place now and reapply for 2022. However, my parents and school are pretty much forcing me to try first term or a few weeks and then they'd let me drop out and reapply if I need to. I understand their POV, and part of me agrees that I should at least try it in case I regret it. However, mentally I am just not coping at all. I would be going for everyone else but myself. At home at least I have a support system but when I'm at Oxbridge I will be far away from everyone with no real friends.

Also, I think I want to be a teacher so having a degree from Oxbridge vs somewhere like Nottingham or UCL etc would not make a difference. If I reapplied for 2022 I would consider a BA in Education, or a BA in History or possibly Theology at a less intense university. I am an academically driven person (8 9s at GCSE, 4 A*s at A level, top of my classes) but this is because I am very good at memorising things and obviously an Oxbridge history course would be very different and more self taught. I HATE reading and never did it outside of my studies (I am aware this is rare for an Oxbridge student, another reason I don’t feel it is right for me) but this is what 95% of my degree will be. I don’t even want to go to university at all, but know I need to to get a decent career.

P.S. I have a lot of mental health issues (as you may be able to tell from the post) and am seeking counselling but ofc it doesn't just magically solve my problems.
I think a short term measure you could use is taking a gap year before starting your course. This will give you breathing space to deal with your mental health and let your parents have a long amount of time to accept you not wanting to go the oxford route.

Personally, I would try to make it sound like a compromise to your parents e.g you will still go to a good UNI (e.g a less intense RG university) and study History but then take a Postgraduate (PGCE) to become a teacher in the subject which is something your parents (with time) will come to proud of.
Last edited by GAMER12; 4 days ago
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Trinculo
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Also - it's kind of irrelevant that you want to be a teacher. Nottingham is an excellent university and more fun than a barrel of monkeys on fire. UCL is the best place in the world if you're not from London - but Cambridge is one of the great universities of the world and is older than the Aztec Empire. "I'm going to become a teacher" is not a good rationale for not going to Cambridge.

"I don't want a collegiate university"
"I don't like the idea of intense supervision"
"I want to go to university in London"
"Social and/or sporting life is very important to me"

are all good rationale for going to UCL or Nottingham.
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Trinculo
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I think you should stick with Cambridge, I think your parents have your best interests at heart and you are inventing a lot of the problems. If you actually do not want to go up for an actual reason (i.e. you don't want to go to Cambridge) then that's a different matter.
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justlearning1469
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(Original post by Anonymous)
So I have an offer to study History at Oxbridge (want to preserve anonymity so won't name the uni/college) which I have accepted and I start in 3 weeks. However, I really don't want to go. I don't enjoy history - I mainly applied because my teachers told me to. Also, I hate the idea of Oxbridge and the super intense workload. I expect I will be independently reading all by myself for 6hrs+ every single day. I enjoy going out with friends and having time off but I think this will be rare at Oxbridge.

I received my reading list and it is very long. I am currently reading 6hrs a day to get through it as I am an extremely slow reader. I feel like a shell of a person right now and I have no time for anything else. It is also disheartening to know that what takes me 3 hours to read would take most others 1 hour. I am not eating or sleeping very well and I cry at least once an hour. I literally wake up crying and fall asleep crying.

I also know I am going to hate every module I study this year because I'm using them to fulfil the time and geographical requirements of the course. If it was up to me, I would just withdraw my place now and reapply for 2022. However, my parents and school are pretty much forcing me to try first term or a few weeks and then they'd let me drop out and reapply if I need to. I understand their POV, and part of me agrees that I should at least try it in case I regret it. However, mentally I am just not coping at all. I would be going for everyone else but myself. At home at least I have a support system but when I'm at Oxbridge I will be far away from everyone with no real friends.

Also, I think I want to be a teacher so having a degree from Oxbridge vs somewhere like Nottingham or UCL etc would not make a difference. If I reapplied for 2022 I would consider a BA in Education, or a BA in History or possibly Theology at a less intense university. I am an academically driven person (8 9s at GCSE, 4 A*s at A level, top of my classes) but this is because I am very good at memorising things and obviously an Oxbridge history course would be very different and more self taught. I HATE reading and never did it outside of my studies (I am aware this is rare for an Oxbridge student, another reason I don’t feel it is right for me) but this is what 95% of my degree will be. I don’t even want to go to university at all, but know I need to to get a decent career.

P.S. I have a lot of mental health issues (as you may be able to tell from the post) and am seeking counselling but ofc it doesn't just magically solve my problems.
Other people have decent points, but I want to add my 2 cents.

First of all, yes your mental health isn't great, but the pros of the Oxbridge system is that they have tutorials, with 1 to 1 teaching or 1 to 2 teaching, so you can obtain exceptional individual support.
The support from 1 to 1 teaching is immense to the point it might outweigh going to a less intense university. This is additionally why various people want to get admitted into Oxbridge. Knowing your tutor personally, for support etc. is monumental.

For Oxbridge the support system is still decent, especially with 1 to 1 tutorials.

A widespread myth is that the university you go to doesn't make a difference, when in reality it does to a decent extent. There are widely documented salary gains for the prestigious universities.

Plus if you're merely memorising things then university might not be suitable for you anyway, as in university memorising is far short of enough.
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justlearning1469
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(Original post by Trinculo)
Also - it's kind of irrelevant that you want to be a teacher. Nottingham is an excellent university and more fun than a barrel of monkeys on fire. UCL is the best place in the world if you're not from London - but Cambridge is one of the great universities of the world and is older than the Aztec Empire. "I'm going to become a teacher" is not a good rationale for not going to Cambridge.

"I don't want a collegiate university"
"I don't like the idea of intense supervision"
"I want to go to university in London"
"Social and/or sporting life is very important to me"

are all good rationale for going to UCL or Nottingham.
Decent point.

Though I mean university is for education, partying is secondary, so I mean if someone treats partying as really important then I wonder whether university is suitable for them.
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justlearning1469
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(Original post by GAMER12)
I think a short term measure you could use is taking a gap year before starting your course. This will give you breathing space to deal with your mental health and let your parents have a long amount of time to accept you not wanting to go the oxford route.

Personally, I would try to make it sound like a compromise to your parents e.g you will still go to a good UNI (e.g a less intense RG university) and study History but then take a Postgraduate (PGCE) to become a teacher in the subject which is something your parents (with time) come to proud of.
This is a pretty decent compromise.
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aconstanthamlet
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Hi there Anon,

I'm really sorry to hear that you're feeling this way at the moment, but I think it's really important that you address your feelings to someone. It's terrible when parents and teachers are forcing you to take a certain path after leaving school, but they need to realise that it's your life to live, not theirs. Your parents aren't going to be the ones reading intensively every day, and your teachers aren't going to be the ones writing extensive essays every week. If your gut is telling you that this is the wrong decision, then the situation needs addressing.

Obviously, it's your decision to make, so I don't want to advise you either way, but I found myself in a very similar position last year (just at another university as opposed to Oxbridge), so I'll share some advice on how you can overcome this. It's important to assess the situation with a clear mind, so sometimes it's helpful to go back to basics and write a simple pros-and-cons list of starting university this year against reapplying.

Whilst you're doing this, it's important to bear in mind that students attending Oxbridge do go out and have fun: you work hard but play hard. Yes, Oxford and Cambridge are more intensive than a good handful of other Russel Group universities, but this means that the students find even more brilliant ways to let off steam. Also note that every university requires more independence compared to A-Levels, however, at Oxbridge, you will also receive more personal tuition in the form of supervisions/tutorials. This means that a portion of your teaching will be tailored to you: such personal feedback on a weekly basis means that you certainly won't be doing your degree by yourself.

Consider the list you've made, and if your gut is still fighting against Oxbridge, then it might be a good idea to have a proper discussion with your parents. I would advise you to mention your mental health, as that is a critically important factor, but if you don't feel safe discussing that with them then speak to your counselor or a doctor instead. If you're suffering from your mental health to this extent, then you might not thrive at any university at this given time. If you feel this is the case, then a gap year to focus on your mental health and well-being could be the most productive thing to do. You could reapply in this instance, but it might be possible to defer your place for 2022 entry (although your university might disallow it). If you successfully defer but later change your mind, then you might be able to cancel your deferred place and reapply in the same cycle, although this isn't guaranteed.

Here's some more advice on deferrals:

https://www.thecompleteuniversitygui...-to-university

Good luck and I hope everything works out for you.
Last edited by aconstanthamlet; 4 days ago
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Reality Check
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(Original post by Anonymous)
So I have an offer to study History at Oxbridge (want to preserve anonymity so won't name the uni/college) which I have accepted and I start in 3 weeks. However, I really don't want to go. I don't enjoy history - I mainly applied because my teachers told me to.

Also, I hate the idea of Oxbridge and the super intense workload. I expect I will be independently reading all by myself for 6hrs+ every single day. I enjoy going out with friends and having time off but I think this will be rare at Oxbridge.

I HATE reading and never did it outside of my studies (I am aware this is rare
So you hate the subject for which you applied, interviewed and were made an offer? Plus you hate reading and hate the idea of Oxbridge.

Amazing that the Admissions Tutors and other academic staff who interviewed you didn't pick up on this in the slightest. You must be an amazing bullshítter.
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Oxford Mum
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(Original post by aconstanthamlet)
Hi there Anon,

I'm really sorry to hear that you're feeling this way at the moment, but I think it's really important that you address your feelings to someone. It's terrible when parents and teachers are forcing you to take a certain path after leaving school, but they need to realise that it's your life to live, not theirs. Your parents aren't going to be the ones reading intensively every day, and your teachers aren't going to be the ones writing extensive essays every week. If your gut is telling you that this is the wrong decision, then the situation needs addressing.

Obviously, it's your decision to make, so I don't want to advise you either way, but I found myself in a very similar position last year (just at another university as opposed to Oxbridge), so I'll share some advice on how you can overcome this. It's important to assess the situation with a clear mind, so sometimes it's helpful to go back to the basics and write a simple pros-and-cons list of starting university this year against reapplying.

Whilst you're doing this, it's important to bear in mind that students attending Oxbridge do go out and have fun: you work hard but play hard. Yes, Oxford and Cambridge are more intensive than a good handful of other Russel Group universities, but this means that the students find even more brilliant ways to let off steam. Also note that every university requires more independence compared to A-Levels, however, at Oxbridge, you will also receive more personal tuition in the form of supervisions/tutorials. This means that a portion of your teaching will be tailored to you: such personal feedback on a weekly basis means that you certainly won't be doing your degree by yourself.

Consider the list you've made, and if your gut is still fighting against Oxbridge, then it might be a good idea to have a proper discussion with your parents. I would advise you to mention your mental health, as that is a critically important factor, but if you don't feel safe discussing that with them then speak to your counselor or a doctor instead. If you're suffering from your mental health to this extent, then you might not thrive at any university at this given time. If you feel this is the case, then a gap year to focus on your mental health and well-being could be the most productive thing to do. You could reapply in this instance, but it might be possible to defer your place for 2022 entry (although your university might disallow it). If you successfully deferred but then changed your mind, then you might be able to cancel your deferred place and reapply in the same cycle, although this isn't guaranteed.

Here's some more advice on deferrals:

https://www.thecompleteuniversitygui...-to-university

Good luck and I hope everything works out for you.
Excellent advice
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Trinculo
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(Original post by justlearning1469)
Decent point.

Though I mean university is for education, partying is secondary, so I mean if someone treats partying as really important then I wonder whether university is suitable for them.
Education and university are far more than a degree - otherwise (especially in the context of the last 2 years) there would be no detriment in simply doing distance learning. University is about meeting people, growing up and learning to live and communicate with others, and having the opportunity to do things you otherwise wouldn't - whilst also receiving an education. If university were socially non-existent - I wouldn't go.
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Trinculo
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Just to add, I am always deeply, deeply suspicious of anyone who refers to "Oxbridge". That always reminds me of 60 year old chinese tourists in the centre of London wearing a University of Oxford sweatshirt.
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Oxford Mum
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(Original post by Reality Check)
So you hate the subject for which you applied, interviewed and were made an offer? Plus you hate reading and hate the idea of Oxbridge.

Amazing that the Admissions Tutors and other academic staff who interviewed you didn't pick up on this in the slightest. You must be an amazing bullshítter.
You are a real mind reader Reality Check

I was thinking exactly the same. Most people are desperate to get in!

My son went to Oxford and partied so hard, he became a bnoc ( one of the top 10 most well known students in Oxford). The other one, a medic had to really knuckle down and do a lot of study.

I know the reading list they are given for Oxford English is massive! Nobody ever reads it all. It’s probably just the same for this history one you have as well, op.

If you are so set against Cambridge ( and other unis will make you read stuff, too) you need an urgent word with your parents
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Reality Check
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(Original post by Oxford Mum)
You are a real mind reader Reality Check

I was thinking exactly the same. Most people are desperate to get in!

My son went to Oxford and partied so hard, he became a bnoc ( one of the top 10 most well known students in Oxford). The other one, a medic had to really knuckle down and do a lot of study.

I know the reading list they are given for Oxford English is massive! Nobody ever reads it all. It’s probably just the same for this history one you have as well, op.

If you are so set against Cambridge ( and other unis will make you read stuff, too) you need an urgent word with your parents
PRSOM
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aconstanthamlet
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Had my own reserves, but whether or not anon is telling the truth, I think it's important to note that any advice shared still stands. You never know, someone out there might need to hear it
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OxFossil
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From your OP, my sense is that you are in a bit of a state about the whole prospect of leaving home and starting at university. You have become extra anxious with the reading list and this has fuelled various imaginings about the special "extra" stress of the workload, lack of social opportunities and so on (and on).

My suggestions would be to:

a) try not to allow your negative thoughts to run away with you, creating fantasies about a situation you actually don't know much about
b) speak with someone you trust to put your anxieties into perspective and use the techniques for anxiety management that I guess you may already have found useful
c) make a very concrete plan for dealing with the worries you have. This should include contacting the welfare counsellor/tutors at your college ahead of your arrival to discuss your concerns. Have a plan for what you will do to keep in touch with the people and things that help you to remain grounded and realistic about the situation you're in. Don't forget that *everyone* starting at uni will have fears about not fitting in, being "not good enough", will find the initial process of socialising stressful, and will feel a little homesick.
d) What you need most of all are allies who appreciate your situation and who are able to help you figure out a way through. They might include parents, friends, welfare staff and student counsellors, your tutor, the porters at the college. Surround yourself with allies!

Finally, try not to catastrophise. If you make a mistake, that's OK. Take a deep breath and try another way. You have a million other options no matter what!
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