Parents of Oxbridge applicants for 2013

(223 Posts)
Thowra Sat 29-Sep-12 08:20:48

Anybody else have DC applying for Oxford or Cambridge at the moment? DD submitted her UCAS into school on friday for checking. There are only two applying in her year. Trying to keep her feet (and mine) on the ground as she has fallen completely in love with Oxford and the college she is applying to, but realistically we know she's more likely to be rejected than not. She's got the grades, but I don't know if she's got enough confidence to carry off the interview. All the uni's she has applied to look fantastic, though, so we'll wait and see.

Betelguese Sun 07-Oct-12 19:30:37

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

DizzyDalmatians Sun 07-Oct-12 19:42:44

thanks, rejandme, webwiz, and thanks to all who have advised. Checking out of my own thread now, I had hoped it would be a place to share the excitement and the rollercoaster of oxbridge applications. Clearly i have just made a massive arse of myself, as the done thing is, not to give a shit. sad

Copthallresident Sun 07-Oct-12 20:02:34

Thowra (or did she just morph into a dalmation) should be immensely proud and excited for her daughter. With those predicted grades she will without the uncertainty of college choice / pool/ interviews get an offer from some very good universities for her science, her options are not polarised between Oxford for Science or Film Studies confused. Remember the QS world rankings put UCL ahead of Oxford. UCL, Imperial and Bath outperform Oxford in terms of employment prospects for Scientists. She can encounter people at the forefront of their Scientific specialisms wherever she goes, Steve Jones at UCL teaches first years. The most able Scientists tend to pick Cambridge which is harder to get into for Natural Sciences so these universities are packed with the brightest students too. Try for Oxford if you would like to be amongst dreaming spires but the quad at UCL, being in the midst of the museums at Imperial, Georgian Bath, Medievil Durham all have their beauty too.

Thowra Sun 07-Oct-12 20:19:06

Ack. See, can't even flounce properly.

Betelguese Sun 07-Oct-12 20:39:18

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Pleaseandthankyou Mon 08-Oct-12 08:13:34

Betel, thankyou. I'll get him to have a look at these. I appreciate you taking the time to post the links.
Thowra good luck to your dc with their application. I know quite a few brilliant students who don't get a place at Oxbridge every year. It does seem a bit random sometimes. All the rejects are very happy at their second choice and doing well. My ds has applied and would love to go. He has excellent exam results but not stellar. We are not expecting him to get an offer but there is always a chance. we have looked hard at the alternatives and I will be pleased if he makes any of his top 4. I will be really pleased though if he gets an Oxbridge offer. We'll have a look at the American system now too.

slipshodsibyl Mon 08-Oct-12 08:51:14

Thowra it is a very exciting time and a bit nerve wracking. I hope things go well.

Betelguese Mon 08-Oct-12 13:52:11

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

cinnamonnut Mon 08-Oct-12 19:05:42

My school has just sent my application (Oxford). Jittery!

gelo Mon 08-Oct-12 19:07:42

good luck cinnamon.

cinnamonnut Mon 08-Oct-12 19:20:35

Thanks smile

Yellowtip Mon 08-Oct-12 22:17:19

Art or science cinnamonnut?

cinnamonnut Mon 08-Oct-12 22:22:02

Law, yellowtip - so a social science/humanities subject, I suppose smile

BurlingtonBertieFromBow Mon 08-Oct-12 22:32:16

I studied a humanities subject at Oxford within the last 10 years. A few of my friends who did PhDs there have been involved in interviewing at various colleges and I've talked to them about it so I have a bit of insight. I haven't read the whole thread but if someone has any questions I can try to answer.

Very loosely, I would say to applicants: don't over-think it, be honest about yourself and your academic interests, don't worry about 'fitting in' or not being clever enough. Don't feel that you have to talk about the interviewers specialist subject - it's really not necessary. One guy said to a friend of mine that he thought the period she was working on was boring! (he didn't know that she was working on it though). It didn't influence her decision at all, she thought it was funny. Interviewers look for genuine enthusiasm and interest and will be able to tell if pushy parents have just been force-feeding and influence. Different colleges have different atmospheres and there really are a wide range of people.
Also - a lot of my peers really weren't that brain-blowingly amazingly brilliant (and I'm certainly not either) so don't be intimidated.

Yellowtip Mon 08-Oct-12 22:35:43

Two of my DDs have read or are reading Law there cinnamonnut. DD1 did all the interview helping too and DD3 is doing it in December. Not sure if I can be of any help, but glad to try. I read Law years ago too.

2plus2 Tue 09-Oct-12 07:29:36

Any interview tips for studying maths at Pembroke? Thanks smile

LettyAshton Tue 09-Oct-12 13:57:19

I can see both sides of the "Thowra" situation. All this talk of "we" is a bit unsettling. It's one thing being disappointed yourself, but if you've got the weight of your parents' expectations on your shoulders as well then I think things could get quite bad.

Otoh, if your dc goes to a school that is not heavily into Oxbridge applications, then you as a parent have to interfere offer as much support as you can. It would be wonderful to be able to be breezily hands-off and revel in the certainty that the school knows the ropes and will safely steer your dc in the best direction. If one is faced with dodgy or no advice at all, then one is slightly forced into being a Tiger Mother.

Betelguese Tue 09-Oct-12 15:37:25

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Betelguese Tue 09-Oct-12 15:45:16

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Copthallresident Tue 09-Oct-12 18:29:17

Letty. This issue of parental pressure is a difficult one. I have sympathy for Thowra (or Dalmation or whatever disguise she may lurk undercover wink ) because we come from a generation, many that didn't go to university, that were taught to revere Oxbridge as the very best and why wouldn't we want our DCs to have the benefit of that prestige. If we did go to university we also know that it did, by and large, take the best who applied in the past, and didn't muck it up for themselves. They cleared a fairly consistent hurdle. The trouble is that we don't understand how the academic world has changed. That means we nurse outdated perceptions of universities, and we are unfamilar with how the admissions process works. It has changed out of all recognition.

There are now many more able candidates applying (just think of the impact of the 10% of applicants that were female becoming 50%, let alone widening access). It is as competitive to get into most RG / 1994 unis now as it was to get into Oxbridge in the past, and developments in the academic world means standards are much higher as well. I returned to university 6 years ago and more is expected of students than was ever expected of me at a RG uni and they work so much harder too ( but don't panic, they are better prepared as well, whatever Gove thinks)). My peers at Oxford dispair at the choices they have to make, and the difficulty of choosing between so many amazing candidates. When one interviews at his Oxford College he starts by saying. " We only have 2 or 3 places but don't worry if you love (your subject) then you will be exposed to just as many amazing world leading academics and be able to study in just as much depth and with just as much interest at X" (my uni). The people who taught, and now supervise me are inspirational and world leaders in their fields regularly appearing on television, radio and in the press when an authoritative perspective is required (so not often enough obviously!!!) The same applies for Throwa's daughter.

Too many pupils now have to bear the weight of these outdated parental expectations. My DD commented, after her peers had gone through the UCAS admissions round, there were too many pupils whose sense of disappointment at rejection came not from their own disappointment, they knew there was an element of lottery and they were going to great unis, but from the feeling they had let their parents down, even if the parents had made it clear they didn't care. Just the fact that some parents made it clear that they did and some were throwing family celebrations of Oxbridge success (tempting fate when the actual A levels had yet to be sat in my view but then I didn't buy a cot or pram until I had my DD in my arms safe and healthy...) was enough. Imagine how you would feel if you knew how much it mattered to your parents even if they had tried to hide it?

As to interfering offering support, be very careful. Universities are very good at looking at applicants in the context of their background, sometimes in spite of the schools efforts. The link I posted earlier to the Guardian article which follows the Cambridge admissions process confirms that. There is a big difference between parents facilitating and supporting pupils to make their own choices and express themselves in their personal statements and taking over and imposing their own ideas interfering. A personal statement clearly written or heavily influenced by a parent is more hindrance than help, likewise a potential student spouting parentese in an interview. The personal statement and interview is where the student has a chance to communicate their unique qualities and passions, and they are those of an 18 year old ( or whatever) not someone who has been around whatever blocks they have been around ( I dread to think in some cases).

MordionAgenos Tue 09-Oct-12 18:34:11

Some of us might nurse outdated perceptions of universities. Some of us might be unfamiliar with how the admissions systems works. Some of us might have close family members and friends who are academics and involved in admissions. smile

Copthallresident Tue 09-Oct-12 18:43:59

Sorry, should have said "some" blush. I do get a bit confused switching between all my identities, parent, academic, and opinionated old bag.....

MordionAgenos Tue 09-Oct-12 18:44:41

grin no worries.grin

Copthallresident Tue 09-Oct-12 18:54:47

I should also add, world's most accomplished procrastinator.....

Yellowtip Tue 09-Oct-12 19:16:28

It's when a parent says 'we' are preparing, that I worry a bit for the child.

In my entire career as a mother I've only ever been to one Open Day ever. The parents' Q&A talk was scary, very scary indeed (clearly not designed to give info but to get the poor kids away from The Mums (and a lesser extent The Dads, who were in a clear minority)). A really diluted form of MN tbh.

I believe that it's only on the absolute fringes of the process that parental pushiness can affect the outcome. I also believe that it's not worth it, and can be the wrong thing for the child.

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