The Universities of Oxford and Cambridge are collectively referred to as Oxbridge and are internationally renowned. Having one of these universities on your CV will open many doors, and stand you in good stead for the rest of your life. They are looking for bright, ambitious students with lots of potential, whatever their social or economic background, and the application process is a bit more rigorous than other universities. You will also need to apply early (15th October), and you cannot apply to both of them.
The majority of students (~60%) come from state schools, and both universities are taking active measures to encourage applications from non-traditional backgrounds. Look into the Oxford and Cambridge Access Schemes.
Is Oxbridge right for you?
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Are you consistently at the top of your class?
- Are you on course for strong A or A* grades at A-Level?
- Did you get excellent GCSE grades?
- Do you enjoy reading about your chosen subject in your own time?
- Does the stuff you encounter at school inspire you to do some research in your own time?
- Do you find that your schoolwork throws up questions that you would like to devote more time trying to answer?
- Do you enjoy discussing your views with classmates, parents, teachers or anyone else?
If you answered yes to the questions above then you should consider making an application.
Factors to think about when choosing a college
- All-girls colleges
- Subject availability
- Scholarships and Bursaries
- Academic Staff
Go to the college’s individual open days to get a feel for the place. If you have no preference, you can do what is called an open application and they will allocate you a college at random.
What happens after I submit my application?
If you applied to Cambridge… The Supplementary Application Questionnaire (SAQ) will ask for your AS-Level module results, and questions about your experience so far and possible career paths. If your application is successful, you will be invited for interview, which normally takes place at the beginning of December. You might also be given a short test beforehand or during the interview.
If you applied to Oxford… There is no extra application form to fill in, so the university does not see your AS-Level module results. You may have to sit a short test before they decide whether to interview you. If you get interviewed you may stay overnight at the college. Accommodation and food will be provided free of charge by the college, and social events are organised for the evenings.
Both universities are much more interested in your potential than your current knowledge. You should be notified of either university’s decision sometime between December to January.