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Seeing as it’s GCSE results day here in the UK for all 16 year olds, I thought I’d quickly post in regards to this & the Oxbridge application process!

Your GCSEs DO matter – if people tell you they don’t in the application process, then they aren’t telling you the entire truth! To what degree they matter, I can’t honestly say, but it is certain that both Oxford & Cambridge do take the results  into account.

Of course, what really matters to them are you A Level/IB/equivalent results when you hit 18, but when you apply you do have to state what grades you got for GCSEs, as you do when applying to other unis too! 

Supposedly Cambridge take GCSEs into account moreso than Oxford, but I think that’s probably because for some courses at Cambridge you don’t have to take a test upon applying. Oxford do look at them, though when reading your application.

Basically all that they’re looking for is to see that you’re academically consistent throughout your schooling life. They want to see that you are & have been hard-working for a long length of time. I got 5 A*s and 6 As for my GCSEs but these weren’t the best or the worst grades of people I know who applied & got an interview or a place, so it isn’t the end of the world if you don’t do quite as well at GCSE level! 

It’s not the end of the world, but don’t think that they don’t matter! 

SO I have about a month left of my summer before I take up my place at Robinson. I was just thinking, as well as blogging about the application process to Oxbridge for everyone that’s interested, I’ll also blog about my first year at uni & how I’m getting on there etc. 

At the moment, I’m quite apprehensive & nervous I suppose, but I’m also really excited & looking forward to going. Of course, it’ll be a massive change leaving home, my family and friends but it’s a change I’m prepared for I think. I’m not saying I hate my family & friends by the way, I’m just looking forward to meeting lots of new people haha!

I’ve joined the facebook groups for Cambridge freshers & the freshers group for my college, Robinson & people seem really nice on it! (A TIP FROM ME: Don’t join a group like this until AFTER you get your results – it’s best not to tempt fate! A lot of my friends did so for other unis & I thought it was a bit risky in case you don’t get in!)

A lot of the older students are also willing to chat to you on it about your course or college, or even any general questions you have, so that’s really helpful & nice. 

Not long to go now!

 

Emily x

Firstly, I’d like to congratulate anyone here in the UK that got their A-Level results today. I really hope you all got what you wanted in terms of grades & unis. If you’re currently in year 12, that’ll be you in just one year & boy, does that year go fast!

As I did the IB, I’ve known my exam results for about a month and a half now, so have known that I will be going to Cambridge in September for quite some time now.

But the main reason I’m blogging today is to offer some advice about how to choose a college at Oxbridge. Oxford & Cambridge are 2 of only 3 of 4 collegiate unis left in the country. It’s a really traditional way of living at uni & is very unique. (I think those stats are right, by the way!). Durham is another one of the collegiate unis but I don’t know what the other(s) are – comments below telling me the answer to this would be much appreciated!

Basically, a college is where you live throughout uni. I suppose it’s kind of like choosing your halls at any other uni. However, at Cambridge (and Oxford, I think!) you live in your college for the entirety of your uni course most of the time. This is why it’s so vital to choose a college to suit you!

If you’re looking for a female-only college, a large or a small one, one that specialises in music, or sport, or drama, or anything else that you have an interest in for that matter, then there is probably a college out there that will sit you perfectly. Of course, being in a certain college doesn’t limit you in terms of joing any uni societies in any way at all, nor does it prevent you from mixing with people outside of your college, it just means that you’ll be surrounded by people who have similar interests to you!

I really had NO idea about what college to choose. It can be really hard to pick because there are so many to choose from! I didn’t make a decision until I had visited Cambridge on an open day – I’d really reccommend that everyone does this if they can too, as it allows you to see the college for yourself, rather than pick based on internet pictures.

In my case, the college that I thought I would like to apply to just wasn’t for me when I actually had a look round on the open day. I went up with my boyfriend who was also looking round, but we went our separate ways upon arriving in Cambridge so that we could look at the specific colleges that we each wanted to look at. It’s good going around on your own too, because you don’t get influenced by your friends or parents. Ultimately, it’ll be where you’ll be living for 3 or more years, so you have to like it! I happened to stumble upon the college that I eventually put down on my application form just in passing – Christ’s. I just loved the atmosphere & vibe that I got from it. It sounds really lame but when you find your college, you know that it’ll be the one that suits you! I just loved the fact that it was such an old college with great facilities & was a big one with lots of students.

However, I’ll later talk about the ‘pool’ process at Cambridge after the interview stage. In brief it’s basically where, after your interview, you are deemed to be good enough to attend Cambridge but your college was over-subscribed with people who were also good enough to attend too. They then put some people in a ‘pool’ whereby their applications are sent off to other colleges & they can choose to take you if they have space etc. This was what happened to me, so I never ended up going to Christ’s in the end – I was placed at Robinson which, in contarst to Christ’s is the newest college in the uni. But since gaining my place I have had & look round & love it just as much. To be honest, you’ll love wherever you end up going I think, so it’s not the be all & end all if you don’t get your college! (If you’re interested to know, my boyfriend was also pooled but did not get an offer & will now be off to Bristol in September, which he is really happy with & I’m very proud of him for it!)

After looking around, if you’re STILL undecided about what college to choose, remember that you can always do an open application! This is where the uni decides the college for you 🙂

Colleges are really important, so it’s vital that you choose wisely!

Any questions, comment below!

Emily xx

If you have decided to apply to either Oxford or Cambridge (you can only apply to one of the two per cycle of UCAS, by the way) then…good for you!

There’s a stigma surrounding Oxbridge that if you were to get in that you wouldn’t fit in because of your background etc, but that’s certainly not the case! You’ll find that most people there will be like you. Furthermore, people are often put off of applying there because they think that it will be largely oversubscribed. This is also not the case. Oxbridge receives roughly the same number of applicants as other unis – obviously the exact stats vary from course to course, but this is the same as with any other uni! 

People don’t apply there because they think that they will never get in. I think this is a real shame & obviously shows that they are not willing to take the risk & don’t have the faith in their own abilities. Of course, it’s all down to personal choice & preference, and it is a risk applying there, but you should go for it! If you think that you can do it, why not? 

Do make a serious & level judgement about it, as there are plenty of other top unis out there too! Oxbridge is NOT the be all & end all – your life will not be over if you don’t get in! Also, don’t pick your uni course based on your chances of getting into Oxbridge – you could well get a rejection from Oxbridge & then realise that you don’t really want to do your course elsewhere. Pick your course, then see if Oxbridge’s course suits you – if so, great! If not, not to worry. You may be better off going elsewhere.

Oxbridge Applications is a great company that can help with the application process. http://www.oxbridgeapplications.com 

If you sign up to the site, you get an email at certain stages of the application process with their tips & advice. I found this really useful & it keeps you on track with your application!

They also have a book “So you want to go to Oxbridge? Tell me about a banana.” giving great tips on the interviews, in-depth analyses of every college at both unis & other advice too. I also found this a great help & picked it up for free on the uni open day when I subscribed to the website. I don’t know if they still do that deal, but it’s certainly available on Amazon etc. 

 

I’ll write tomorrow about choosing a college!

Emily x

uniuniuniblog

The number one rule here is to start early. It doesn’t have to be a lot of work, just enough to prevent you having to do last minute cramming which is rarely successful and even then, the information is usually forgotten within a few days. Here are some tips on how best to revise for exams:

Use your learning style

Not everyone uses the same methods to revise and there are a whole host of ways in which the same information can be learned and retained.

Visual learners– Use mind maps, highlight important parts, use diagrams to help show information. Auditory learners– Read your notes out load, record yourself reading the notes and then listen to the recording afterwards, revise with other students.

Learners who are readers/writers– copy out your notes, read them silently, re-write important points from memory Active learners– move around the room, mentally…

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By now, if you’re in year 12 or equivalent, you will have probably made your top 5 uni choices. By the time school starts again (in a few weeks, I’m afraid to say!) you’ll have to start the UCAS application process straight away.

If you haven’t quite made your top 5 choices just yet, now is probably the best time to do so! It’s one of those jobs that is so easy to put off, but if you just spend a day at the end of the holidays properly researching a wide range of unis, it’s definitely worthwhile. I didn’t make the decision until about 2 days before I had to go back to school and I started to apply 3 days after that, so it was a bit rushed in my case! I knew 3 out of the 5 unis that I wanted to put down, but had to think long & hard about the other 2. 

REMEMBER: Don’t just apply to unis that meet/exceed your predicted grades. Apply for at least 1 or 2 that ask for grades that are lower than you expect to get. This doesn’t mean sacrificing a good uni at all – grade requirements differ from course to course & some unis lower their grade requirements if you are offered a place because they want you to go there. But by no means count on this happening; it’s at their discretion!

Make sure that you would be happy to go to ANY of your 5 unis!! I know this is an obvious point that teachers will make to you, but it is SO true. I have friends that were left disappointed in the UCAS process in that they didn’t get their “top choice(s)” & then realised that they didn’t really like their other “lower” choices but couldn’t really do too much about it, other than complain! You HAVE to go into this process expecting, in the absolute worst case scenario, that you won’t get any of your 5 unis.

I only looked around one of my five unis, which in hindsight was a poor move, but luckily it happened to be the uni that I got into that I looked around. (In no way was I just expecting to get into Cambridge by the way, it was that my other unis were very far away from where I live & transport on their set open days was difficult etc – I wasn’t that cocky!). So do get a chance to look around as many unis in your final 5 as you can, preferably before you start the formal UCAS application process!

Think long & hard about your 5 choices – you may get all of them (as I luckily did) – you may get none. The UCAS process is a bit of a lottery in all honesty. There will be some people that you know who you think were very unlucky in the process & who deserved more offers, there will be some who you will think did not. But on the whole, the unis do get it right most of the time. They will pick the applicants that they think will get them the best grades. At the end of the day; they’re a business looking for profits, just like any others. For them, top students generate the best grades to give them more profits etc. It’s a realistic way of looking at it & it’s a bit bleak I suppose, but it’s unfortunately true.

So basically, look at all aspects of as many unis as possible. Campus/city-based, catered/non-catered, accomodation types that will/won’t suit you & look at the differences in the courses at each uni. After all, that is primarily what you’ll be paying £9,000 a year for!

Next process coming soon! Comment for any advice etc! Emily x

Hi everyone!

My name’s Emily & I am about to start my first year reading Politics, Psychology & Sociology (PPS) at Robinson College at the University of Cambridge.

The application process to either Oxford or Cambridge and even other universities is a long and demanding one. With so many hoops to jump through before you are able to even be considered for a place, it can be very hard-going. I want to write a blog to future Oxbridge applicants to offer them advice about how to tackle each stage of the application process, offering my advice & the ability for you to ask questions about the process along the way.

I went to a Grammar school in Kent to study the International Baccalaureate Diploma (IB) from aged 16-18, but I also know people who hold offers who have taken A-Levels too, so feel I can give advice about both. Similarly, I applied to Cambridgebut have friends who hold offers & will be taking up places to stufy at Oxford, so know about their application process & it’s slight differences in places too.

If you’re interested, please follow my blog & spread the word about it! I will post throughout the application process hopefully, so will follow you along your journey.

I was astounded when I got an offer from Cambridge, let alone when I met the grade requirements to take up my place there. I recognised from the outset that the likelihood was that I would not get a place, but do not be put off by this! Best of luck with your applications & feel free to ask me as many questions as you want to!

Emily x