Why didn't your child apply to Oxford or Cambridge?

(351 Posts)
ZeroSomeGameThingy Tue 27-May-14 09:10:21

www.theguardian.com/education/2014/may/27/oxbridge-state-school-numbers-falling

Given that most people who apply will not get in - there's no shame in an unsuccessful application. So what are the real reasons for this apparent reluctance?

Molio Sat 07-Jun-14 23:24:04

No, fees are reduced for the less well off at Oxford and Cambridge. And at other very good universities too. But the financial aid at Oxford and Cambridge tops the tables and is awarded without any special application beyond the standard application to SFE, and is also applied across the board regardless of college. The fee reduction was introduced to meet the fee hike in 2012, though the maintenance support system had been in place for years before that, again automatically through applying through the standard SFE channel.

duchesse Sat 07-Jun-14 21:27:11

FreeSpirit, the fees are the same in pretty much all universities now. Whether you go to Oxbridge or London Metropolitan the fees are £9000/year.

ZeroSomeGameThingy Sat 07-Jun-14 19:15:54

FreeSpirit You must have seen the discussion regarding tuition fees above?

I'm lucky to come from the era of grants rather than loans - but I find it hard to understand how anyone who has taken the trouble to fully inform themselves about the student loan scheme would find it sufficiently off-putting as to prevent them applying to the university they think would suit best.

FreeSpirit89 Sat 07-Jun-14 18:59:41

Because money didn't grow on trees in my house. The inheritance my family received when I was a child didn't get out into trust for me, and was spent on keeping a roof over our head.

I as a 16-18 year old couldn't afford the tuition fees, and tbh I couldn't have foreseen my way out of the debt it would have cause me.

Some students don't have rich families able to subsidise there learning and are left with little or no choice.

It's a cultural divide that looks under to change, money goes to money.

Milliways Thu 05-Jun-14 22:41:18

My DD went to Cambridge, and DS (4 years younger) said that he wanted "a life" at Uni, having seen the stresses she went through in her first year and what was expected every holiday. He is having a whale of a time a another RG Uni.
DD was the first in our family to go to any Uni, so I would encourage anyone who wants to apply to go for it, but I can see DS is having much more fun!

JaneParker Wed 04-Jun-14 20:01:26

(I think there was change. I was late 70s. However I would have thought had my head really wanted to make the effort she could have rung round and found out rather than just saying no. Of course I may not have got in anyway although I did get the best exam results in the school etc)

uiler123 Wed 04-Jun-14 16:12:30

I went to Cambridge two years early in the 90s - I was only just 16 when I started and 15 when I applied. In my year there were a number of other students who were young for year. I know also people who went to Oxford in the 80s and 90s who were young for year, including other members of my family.

When I was applying I checked with a number of Oxbridge colleges whether my age would be a problem. I was told that each case was considered individually and for maths/sciences gap years were generally not viewed as particularly desirable.

As an Oxbridge admissions tutor I have admitted students who were young for year but it is less common to see grade skipped students nowadays as state schools very rarely skip - most such students come from private schools.

JaneParker Wed 04-Jun-14 15:18:17

Ah Ianie, that is interesting about the sibling. My headmistress told me as I was a year young I could not apply to Oxbridge( no one had ever been from my school) and I went to university aged 17 and graduated at 20. Looking back I assumed the head was just being difficult but may be it was a strict rule? I did not want a gap year for some reason, just to get on. Has not mattered. My siblings went.

Molio Wed 04-Jun-14 14:24:28

lainie your FIL sounds a mesmerizingly mean minded old bugger.

Molio Wed 04-Jun-14 14:20:48

My line with my own DC is to encourage any which expresses an interest but to sound a note of caution at the same time. My reasoning is that a parent who positively discourages is sending a very negative message. Obviously if I knew it to be out of the question I might try and get myself diplomatically out that particular tight spot, but provided there's even a vague chance, and the place appeals - why not? I certainly try to avoid the 'heart set' mentality though.

lainiekazan Wed 04-Jun-14 12:32:41

Ah, the two EE offer. I had two of those from other universities, too.

Zero: dh had to go to his local university, which fortunately was quite good. He was forced to live at home, though, which was a reasonable distance away. He even had to take his own sandwiches in every day. Now all this would be ok if his parents were poor - but they were very comfortably off indeed. Sorry - this is a whole other thread - but fil droned on ad infinitum about why should his sons get opportunities that he hadn't had confused . It was only when dh went out into the world that he realised that other people's parents actually wanted the best for their dcs rather than resenting any success they might have.

About ds - he is a clever boy, but one has to be realistic about Oxbridge chances. These kids who profess to want to go Oxford when they're six or whatever - well, pride comes before a fall. And as was mentioned upthread - someone is fuelling their "dream" - there is an eminence grise (aka Tiger Mother) beavering away behind the scenes.

duchesse Wed 04-Jun-14 11:54:18

I know a very bright 30 something year old who spent his years from 12 to 19 living on a boat in a boatyard, had no formal education in that time but learned ship-building instead. He eventually went to study engineering in his mid 20s, but his university made him jump through a lot of stupid hoops before they would allow him on the course. He would have been a perfect 2E candidate.

ZeroSomeGameThingy Wed 04-Jun-14 11:40:18

I think the entrance exam was brilliant for people whose school education had been disrupted in any way.

Even now there must be plenty of potential entrants whose school life fell apart, or who had no support whatsoever or who didn't get their act together until they were a little older than "normal" (but not yet with a successful career behind them.) For all of those the entrance exam could be your one chance to really show what you can do. I think it's a pity that the non-cookie cutter possibles may no longer see a way in.

hench Wed 04-Jun-14 11:33:18

One college at Cambridge made about a third of its offers at 2Es until fairly recently (I know someone who got one about 5 or 6 years ago), so I think its a case of deciced against it rather than not allowed to. In the main they stopped happening quite a while ago, probably as Herc says, mainly when entrance exams were phased out and old style grants stopped as they were fairly normal before that.

HercShipwright Wed 04-Jun-14 11:20:45

duchesse I think they went the way of all flesh when they scrapped the entrance exam and when grants stopped (the offer was 2 Es not because they wanted you to get 2Es but because you wouldn't get a grant unless you had 2Es. Conservatoires also made 2E offers in those days). It's probably for the best.

duchesse Wed 04-Jun-14 11:17:38

Herc, I don't think they're allowed to give 2E offers any more. More's the pity. I bet they got some really talented and interesting people with 2E offers. Last one I heard of was a kid at the DCs' school about 10-11 years ago, who actually failed to even take his A levels and moved to the South Pacific instead to save the orang utang.

ZeroSomeGameThingy Wed 04-Jun-14 11:01:40

I put my most precious things in college storage at the end of the first year. Forgot all about them. Years later I began to wonder what on earth had happened to this and that...

HercShipwright Wed 04-Jun-14 11:00:21

Lainie I think maybe that varied between subjects - I certainly got offers from all my UCCA choices, some arriving even after I'd had my 2E offer from Cambridge.

ZeroSomeGameThingy Wed 04-Jun-14 10:58:31

....Fascinating post!

You must feel quite torn lainie - with so much history.

What became of your DH (education-wise)?

And what is the current practicality issue?

duchesse Wed 04-Jun-14 10:53:19

Our college had a massive store underneath one of the halls of residence where you could store stuff over vacations, even the long one. Bloody thing was full even back in 1990, massive place. I expect they had a massive car boot sale at some point with all the forgotten stuff in there. One friend lived perfectly happily for 3 years never bringing more than what she could carry in her rucksack. I don't think her parents drove her down from Scotland even once.

lainiekazan Wed 04-Jun-14 10:45:09

Fascinating thread.

Many years ago dsis did not apply to Oxbridge because she was a year ahead and they refused to consider an application of a 16-year-old (obviously pre-Ruth Lawrence). Bristol had no qualms about her youth (and subsequent wild ways...).

I didn't apply as I was afraid of rejection, and also - I don't know whether this still applies - other universities on the UCCA (as it was) form could see you had put Oxford/Cambridge and the received wisdom was that quite a few would take umbrage and reject you out of hand, thus potentially leaving you high and dry if Oxbridge didn't work out.

Dh's parents would not allow him to apply. What a contrast with most MNetters! Dh's headmistress actually visited their house to plead dh's case, but no, they stood firm and in fact really didn't want him to go to university at all. This was the 1980s, not the 1950s. Unbelievable.

Ds has expressed an interest in Oxford. I am walking a vaseline-smeared tightrope trying to balance encouragement in one hand and practicality in the other.

RolloRollo Mon 02-Jun-14 22:27:53

Both DC had the grades but were at top independent schools so the absolute top grades would be expected of them.

Also for medicine DC1 did not like the course as it is all theory for 3 years.
For DC2 you could not do the course at oxbridge so it was never an option.

HercShipwright Mon 02-Jun-14 22:14:26

Molio - did you miss the bit where I said that logistics are an issue for us, now? And we have a car. And can afford the train. Etc. I think if you live somewhere with good transport, you don't realise what it's like to live somewhere silly. That having said, obviously travel logistics issues due to where you live will completely cut across the social spectrum, but ultimately people like me can chuck only at the problem, and other people may be less able/inclined so to do.

Molio Mon 02-Jun-14 21:58:17

However true the historical social constraints, I'm just not sure that concerns about transport deter these days. It is true that Oxbridge colleges expect students to clear out in the short holidays more than almost everywhere else, but these are issues which only manifest themselves after the idea of application has taken root, not before. So a nuisance, no more, but not a deterrent.

HercShipwright Mon 02-Jun-14 16:41:13

I think if my mum's dad hadn't already been dead, things might have been different for her when her mum died. But he was. So they weren't. Similarly with my dad, if his mum hadn't already been dead when his dad died I'm sure things would have been very different (he had planned to go to university, and was set to sit the relevant exams (higher cert I think it was called?). But life was more brutal with fewer safety nets in those days. Paying the rent was everything. And he didn't even have nuns to provide help/advice, like my mum did.

Since my DH and I also suffered parental death while still in education (although in neither case did we lose both parents in fact DH's mum is still with us sort of) I have always been concerned about what would happen to my kids should one or both of us fall off the twig hence we are ridiculously overinsured - but the world is a bit different these days anyway. I do have as one of my life's aims being the first mother in my family to see her kids finish school and university though. And DH would like to be the first dad in his to do the same!

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