is there a possibility of being accepted into Oxbridge/Durham with my current plan?

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confusedbby
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#1
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#1
This might be a bit long-winded, and I apologize for that, but I've been trying to research this and have gotten little to no helpful results.

I'm 18, and dropped out of secondary school for various reasons (bullying, personal life, funds, etc), but now I'm enrolled in an online high school program. My grades are pretty high and I think I'm doing quite well with most subjects, so I expect to graduate with all As or a high GPA. My favorite subject (and the one I hope to study) is archaeology, and my dream is to study it in Cambridge/Oxford or Durham. I'd like to know if, as an international student with a very interesting/unique background as well as good grades, I have a chance at making it into either of these, or if it's slim. Please be realistic about my chances and, additionally, tell me if applying for a year of coursework at Open University boosts my chances or can supplement taking A-levels. Thank you to anyone who answers, I appreciate it very much!
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McGinger
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#2
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#2
Lots of info here about Applying for Oxford and Cambridge here - https://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/wik...(aka_Oxbridge)
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Confusedboutlife
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(Original post by confusedbby)
This might be a bit long-winded, and I apologize for that, but I've been trying to research this and have gotten little to no helpful results.

I'm 18, and dropped out of secondary school for various reasons (bullying, personal life, funds, etc), but now I'm enrolled in an online high school program. My grades are pretty high and I think I'm doing quite well with most subjects, so I expect to graduate with all As or a high GPA. My favorite subject (and the one I hope to study) is archaeology, and my dream is to study it in Cambridge/Oxford or Durham. I'd like to know if, as an international student with a very interesting/unique background as well as good grades, I have a chance at making it into either of these, or if it's slim. Please be realistic about my chances and, additionally, tell me if applying for a year of coursework at Open University boosts my chances or can supplement taking A-levels. Thank you to anyone who answers, I appreciate it very much!
I don't think these universities will mind your background: it isn't unheard of for people to do their secondary education later ( I had a somewhat similar experience and went to Oxford). So I would drop that concern from here onwards, there's no issue there in my eyes! (But you could always email and find out: they're usually quite good at getting back to people). You could explain your specific circumstances briefly in the UCAS reference (one of the components written by someone from the centre you apply from/ a teacher). You could provide more detail in Cambridge's specific extenuating circumstances form. Oxford don't have an extentuating circumstances form, but you can usually email a supplementary letter to the college you've applied to once you've been notified that your application has been accepted. I'd recommend asking the college beforehand if a supplementary letter is OK: Christ Church College at Oxford told me they wouldn't accept one so I just applied to another college!

The most important thing you need to do is check the entrance requirements for your particular country (GPA sounds American but I don't want to assume). This list can help for Oxford (look for the translation for AAA entry requirements for Archaeology): https://www.ox.ac.uk/admissions/unde...qualifications.

And here's one for Cambridge (A-Level students need A*AA entry requirements for most Cambridge humanities degrees): https://www.undergraduate.study.cam....s/your-country

If you meet or exceed the entry requirements for your country, then you're set! It might say your qualifications aren't accepted, in which case there might be information provided on what other qualifications in your country could be done. If not, you can email and ask what extra qualifications they'd like for you to do. Note that most people slightly exceed the entrance requirements (Eg. score A*AA/A*A*A for AAA entry requirements), but I knew LOADS of people who just met the entry requirements.

If you meet/ are on track to meet the entry requirements, then there's no reason you shouldn't be able to apply! Doing 1 year of coursework at OU may be helpful but I don't think it's essential. Normally they just want you to have read widely around your subject, making little research projects for yourself which you can write about on your personal statement and talk about at interviews. You might also have to submit some written work (like 1500 to 2000 words?) and do an entrance test. Investing time into researching and preparing for entrance tests is usually a good idea.
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confusedbby
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(Original post by Confusedboutlife)
I don't think these universities will mind your background: it isn't unheard of for people to do their secondary education later ( I had a somewhat similar experience and went to Oxford). So I would drop that concern from here onwards, there's no issue there in my eyes! (But you could always email and find out: they're usually quite good at getting back to people). You could explain your specific circumstances briefly in the UCAS reference (one of the components written by someone from the centre you apply from/ a teacher). You could provide more detail in Cambridge's specific extenuating circumstances form. Oxford don't have an extentuating circumstances form, but you can usually email a supplementary letter to the college you've applied to once you've been notified that your application has been accepted. I'd recommend asking the college beforehand if a supplementary letter is OK: Christ Church College at Oxford told me they wouldn't accept one so I just applied to another college!

The most important thing you need to do is check the entrance requirements for your particular country (GPA sounds American but I don't want to assume). This list can help for Oxford (look for the translation for AAA entry requirements for Archaeology): https://www.ox.ac.uk/admissions/unde...qualifications.

And here's one for Cambridge (A-Level students need A*AA entry requirements for most Cambridge humanities degrees): https://www.undergraduate.study.cam....s/your-country

If you meet or exceed the entry requirements for your country, then you're set! It might say your qualifications aren't accepted, in which case there might be information provided on what other qualifications in your country could be done. If not, you can email and ask what extra qualifications they'd like for you to do. Note that most people slightly exceed the entrance requirements (Eg. score A*AA/A*A*A for AAA entry requirements), but I knew LOADS of people who just met the entry requirements.

If you meet/ are on track to meet the entry requirements, then there's no reason you shouldn't be able to apply! Doing 1 year of coursework at OU may be helpful but I don't think it's essential. Normally they just want you to have read widely around your subject, making little research projects for yourself which you can write about on your personal statement and talk about at interviews. You might also have to submit some written work (like 1500 to 2000 words?) and do an entrance test. Investing time into researching and preparing for entrance tests is usually a good idea.
Thank you, this was very helpful! To answer about my nationality, I'm part American, studying in an American high school, but I was born and raised in a third world country/developing country. I'm relieved my past record in terms of education isn't a problem, I was pretty worried about it. I enjoy researching different subjects on my own as it is, so I'm taking this as a reason to stay curious and keep doing that! Thanks again <3
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confusedbby
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#5
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(Original post by McGinger)
Lots of info here about Applying for Oxford and Cambridge here - https://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/wik...(aka_Oxbridge)
Thank you!
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artful_lounger
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#6
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#6
As above, having a non-standard route through education isn't an issue, and Oxford and Cambridge specifically also both have mature student colleges for undergraduates over the age of 21 when you start (not sure if that will be your situation though, but my point is since they have those unsurprisingly they are used to assessing applicants from a very wide variety of backgrounds!). Being an international student won't make a difference provided you can pay the fees (it's only medical degrees that have international student quotas, and those are imposed by the government).

You might also want to look into UCL for archaeology, as the IoA is one of the major archaeological departments/institutions in the UK (a lot of academics at both Oxford and Cambridge did some time at the IoA at some point or another it seems!). UCL also perhaps somewhat uniquely has a degree with a placement year that is integrated as part of the course with Archaeology South-East (which is the professional branch of UCL Archaeology I gather). Might be quite good experience to have either for going into archaeology grad programmes, or even just going into other generalist grad schemes
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confusedbby
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#7
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(Original post by artful_lounger)
As above, having a non-standard route through education isn't an issue, and Oxford and Cambridge specifically also both have mature student colleges for undergraduates over the age of 21 when you start (not sure if that will be your situation though, but my point is since they have those unsurprisingly they are used to assessing applicants from a very wide variety of backgrounds!). Being an international student won't make a difference provided you can pay the fees (it's only medical degrees that have international student quotas, and those are imposed by the government).

You might also want to look into UCL for archaeology, as the IoA is one of the major archaeological departments/institutions in the UK (a lot of academics at both Oxford and Cambridge did some time at the IoA at some point or another it seems!). UCL also perhaps somewhat uniquely has a degree with a placement year that is integrated as part of the course with Archaeology South-East (which is the professional branch of UCL Archaeology I gather). Might be quite good experience to have either for going into archaeology grad programmes, or even just going into other generalist grad schemes
Thank you for the reassurance, I'm not sure if I'll be a mature student by that point or not, but it's good to know that its not an issue! I was thinking of doing more research about UCL, and then I came across posts suggesting to choose only 2 prestigious/competitive universities, so I got intimidated. But I'll put more research into it, thanks!
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Durham Students
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#8
(Original post by confusedbby)
This might be a bit long-winded, and I apologize for that, but I've been trying to research this and have gotten little to no helpful results.

I'm 18, and dropped out of secondary school for various reasons (bullying, personal life, funds, etc), but now I'm enrolled in an online high school program. My grades are pretty high and I think I'm doing quite well with most subjects, so I expect to graduate with all As or a high GPA. My favorite subject (and the one I hope to study) is archaeology, and my dream is to study it in Cambridge/Oxford or Durham. I'd like to know if, as an international student with a very interesting/unique background as well as good grades, I have a chance at making it into either of these, or if it's slim. Please be realistic about my chances and, additionally, tell me if applying for a year of coursework at Open University boosts my chances or can supplement taking A-levels. Thank you to anyone who answers, I appreciate it very much!
Hi there

It's pretty much the same for Durham, I don't think they would mind your background as long as you meet the entry requirements and have a strong personal statement. I'm not an archaeology student but went to Bishop Auckland castle once and that's where the archaeology students at Durham go for a dig every year. You're also taught about it in theory which you get to experience in practicality and it's really fun! You can also undertake a placement year between your penultimate and final years which allows you to get work ex in a field of your choice (doesn't have to be archaeology) which is amazing because not only do you earn, you can also explore your options career-wise. Some students come out having a graduate job offer after their placement year which is way less stressful than having to look for a job after you graduate.

-Himieka (Official DU Rep)
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artful_lounger
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#9
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#9
(Original post by confusedbby)
Thank you for the reassurance, I'm not sure if I'll be a mature student by that point or not, but it's good to know that its not an issue! I was thinking of doing more research about UCL, and then I came across posts suggesting to choose only 2 prestigious/competitive universities, so I got intimidated. But I'll put more research into it, thanks!
That's more for UK students to ensure they get an offer from somewhere (and even then really it's fine to apply to even 4 "aspirational" choices as long as they have one solid "safety" option). For international students given you're paying such high fees, you literally can't afford to apply to non-"aspirational" options!
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confusedbby
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(Original post by artful_lounger)
That's more for UK students to ensure they get an offer from somewhere (and even then really it's fine to apply to even 4 "aspirational" choices as long as they have one solid "safety" option). For international students given you're paying such high fees, you literally can't afford to apply to non-"aspirational" options!
Oh, that makes much more sense. I'll have to go back to my original 5 and revise them, thanks for the clarification!
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confusedbby
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(Original post by Durham Students)
Hi there

It's pretty much the same for Durham, I don't think they would mind your background as long as you meet the entry requirements and have a strong personal statement. I'm not an archaeology student but went to Bishop Auckland castle once and that's where the archaeology students at Durham go for a dig every year. You're also taught about it in theory which you get to experience in practicality and it's really fun! You can also undertake a placement year between your penultimate and final years which allows you to get work ex in a field of your choice (doesn't have to be archaeology) which is amazing because not only do you earn, you can also explore your options career-wise. Some students come out having a graduate job offer after their placement year which is way less stressful than having to look for a job after you graduate.

-Himieka (Official DU Rep)
That's nice to hear! it matters to me that a university is willing to help you get started, or that they give you the proper tools for it at least!
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Durham Students
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#12
(Original post by confusedbby)
That's nice to hear! it matters to me that a university is willing to help you get started, or that they give you the proper tools for it at least!
Yeah I totally understand. I love our careers service as well because they have this online portal where you can search for jobs and internships, book appointments with someone from the careers team to get tailored advice on applications or anything career-related. Plus you have access to them up until 5 years after you graduate!

-Himieka
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Sandtrooper
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#13
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(Original post by confusedbby)
This might be a bit long-winded, and I apologize for that, but I've been trying to research this and have gotten little to no helpful results.

I'm 18, and dropped out of secondary school for various reasons (bullying, personal life, funds, etc), but now I'm enrolled in an online high school program. My grades are pretty high and I think I'm doing quite well with most subjects, so I expect to graduate with all As or a high GPA. My favorite subject (and the one I hope to study) is archaeology, and my dream is to study it in Cambridge/Oxford or Durham. I'd like to know if, as an international student with a very interesting/unique background as well as good grades, I have a chance at making it into either of these, or if it's slim. Please be realistic about my chances and, additionally, tell me if applying for a year of coursework at Open University boosts my chances or can supplement taking A-levels. Thank you to anyone who answers, I appreciate it very much!
Just to add to what the others have said, your academic performance and personal statement (where you can talk about stuff like the OU, if you do it) are the most important. You could probably get an offer from a lot of UK universities as long as you have the grades, but Oxbridge is a bit trickier. However, if you meet the entry requirements, then it's worth applying.
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