realistic grades for oxbridge?

(61 Posts)
exgov Fri 26-Oct-12 10:58:16

My DS has decided to have a try for Cambridge, but I'm just musing now about whether it's a good idea or not. He's likely to get 3 solid As at A level if present progress continues, possibly an A* (or even 2 if he really gets down to it, but I think that's less likely). So I'd say he's bright but not super-mega-bright - is that likely to be enough for Cambridge?

Plus I've just heard about a lad who's left Cambridge after 2 weeks because he didn't like it - and didn't really like it at interview, but felt obliged to take the offer, I guess. I find it really hard to work out if I feel my DS would cope with Cambridge if he did get in - I'm hoping the interviewers can work that out better than me! Is that a realistic thought?

Betelguese Sat 27-Oct-12 17:11:53

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Yellowtip Sat 27-Oct-12 17:26:45

I'd be surprised if Cambridge was 'infinitely' superior duchesse, at least these days, given what I know of the Oxford pastoral system in action since that's been faultless - with the minor caveat that it's bound to be slightly uneven according to tutor/ subject/ college, though that's usually only the initial port of call.

Unfortunately not all students can be helped adequately. I'm no psychologist but I expect it may be the case that those with the most profound problems may be amongst the slowest and most reluctant to seek help. Tragically there will always be suicides which with the best will in the world the system can't scoop up in time.

MordionAgenos Sat 27-Oct-12 17:32:48

I was very very sick while I was at Cambridge. Had to spend quite a long spell in hospital. My first hand experience of the pastoral care was that it was superb. However it was completely college based. So it's entirely possible that the pastoral care at other colleges was bobbins (although I'm guessing not at Duchesse's college either).

Yellowtip Sat 27-Oct-12 18:00:20

Did you need an extra year Mordion? Clearly you had a mountain to deal with around that time. Often an extra year makes it all come good and I know a number of students for whom that's been suggested at Oxford and they've been very well supported and it's worked.

By contrast I've heard some rubbish accounts about medics at other places being spat out with nowhere to go. All that hard work gone in a puff. Just awful.

Yellowtip Sat 27-Oct-12 18:01:40

Well, their dreams gone in a puff, which is probably more important than the graft.

duchesse Sat 27-Oct-12 18:06:02

Well, for a start, the personal tutor system was extremely effective. Each personal tutor only had about 25-30 UG to look after, plus a few postgrads. At my college at least they made every possible effort to look after their charges, kicking off with a drinks party in the first few days of term, through constant feedback from subject tutors, through personally checking up on a student's room if a student didn't surface for a day or so or was ill. All the documentation (college lists etc were released with info about who everybody's tutor was, so that if a friend was concerned, they could contact their friend's tutor directly).

At my college we had a sick bay where you could go to stay if you weren't well enough to look after yourself but not ill enough for hospital. The nurses made sure you were fed etc...

We had a women's tutor for problems you wouldn't want to take to your make tutor.

In our college pretty much every fellow knew everybody by sight at least, and many by name. They would say hello in the quads.Even the porters knew everybody by sight and would feed back if they though there was a problem. In my college we had compulsory hall so everybody was forced out of hiding 45 times a term at least.

All this sounds quite overpowering but it is a very stressful workload and many of us had mental problems to varying degrees. It was all handled very subtly and well imo.

In contrast, several friends of friends at Oxford got to the stage of committing suicide- either attempting it or succeeding sad before anyone noticed they were struggling.

sieglinde Sat 27-Oct-12 18:30:09

Um. Duchesse, my college does all that. Except we actually have fewer students per personal tutor.

Mine is a biggish college, so not sure everyone knows everyone, but after a first term they do. We also have a student mentoring system with College Parenting. I'm really sorry to hear about your friends at Oxford; the system is obviously very college-based, and perhaps practices vary? Hoping to pick up some tips form all of you.

MordionAgenos Sat 27-Oct-12 18:56:48

Yep, I missed a term and a half and so I had to retake half of the year.

Yellowtip Sat 27-Oct-12 19:36:25

Not surprised Mordion. It takes a very great deal to get back on track.

Out of interest duchesse, was it one of the all girls or formerly all girls colleges or not? I've no theory here, I'm just curious.

A Cambridge friend missed a term through glanduar fever and was not particularly well helped (a former mens college). She struggled badly to catch up. She did manage, just, but only through compromising other things and I can see she should really have been advised to take the rest of the year out.

I've known Oxford suicides too unfortunately. But then I've also known Bristol one. And Durham breakdowns. Really, this is all anecdotal. It proves nothing. Oxford doesn't have a monopoly of misery. I've certainly known tutors to go way beyond the call of duty to help students in trouble. I'd be very happy to name them, lovely people, evidently cared hugely about the students in their charge.

duchesse Sun 28-Oct-12 00:03:08

No, twas 1987 in a college that had only started taking women UG in 1983. If that doesn't "out" which college it was I don't know what will.

Betelguese Sun 28-Oct-12 12:00:51

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

creamteas Sun 28-Oct-12 13:48:20

Whilst all universities have clear policies on welfare, the extent to which they are effective depends very much on individuals IMO. If a Personal Tutor takes their role seriously and is pro-active in monitoring and supporting students they are likely to have a much easier time if things go wrong than if their tutor is just going through the motions. The amount spent is not always the issue

In my experience, two students encountering very similar issues at the same place will result in very different experiences simply because of who their personal tutor is.

sieglinde Sun 28-Oct-12 14:43:46

Yes, quite right, creamteas. (or quite wrong, if you will.)

And Betel, bear in mind that most of us do try :0. I've often tried to help you, and you're not even on my patch grin

However, it's often quite hard to draw a line between due care and constant interference.

I have a funny story to tell; when I was a graduate student, I had moved in with another graduate, who - wrapped no doubt in the fires of passion - had forgotten to answer his college tutor's dinner invitation (or forgotten to check his pidge, maybe). Said tutor was Very Concerned, got a pass key, and burst into the guy's private room, finding us - erm - in flagrante delicto. It was not a happy moment for the pastoral care system. grin

Same college had a domestic Bursar who I once found rummaging through my underwear. I don't know if he was looking for drugs or jollies. But he was a notorious perve, and the women in college would never ever wear a skirt to tutes with him.

Do try to remember that university undergraduates are ADULTS, not toddlers. THEY are responsible for ASKING for help. I always give it if there's a problem, and am willing to spend hours on any kind of issue, but I don't think I should dog their every footstep.

Tressy Sun 28-Oct-12 14:52:36

Someone I know had an offer and was from a comp that very rarely gets anyone going up to Oxbridge (this goes in their favour, I reckon). It wasn't medicine or law but something like English ( I cannot remember the exact course) and I know that they didn't get straight A* and A's a GCSE there must have been a few B's. Also didn't meet the offer and they were prepared to accept a grade B for one A level. I would say definitely apply.

Betelguese Sun 28-Oct-12 16:25:02

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Betelguese Sun 28-Oct-12 16:49:02

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

creamteas Sun 28-Oct-12 17:39:31

Betel having worked in HE for many years I am well aware of the similarities and differences grin

I think maybe see how he feels after the interview? He will get to meet people and will probably have a feeling one way or the other. I have lived in and around one or other university for most of the last ten years, and it's really strange how you can just see some interviewees who are walking around ten foot in the air, loving it ... and others who look so miserable.

Maybe he could have a think about questions he has for the interviewers - they'd need to be brief and relevant but I bet they would love a genuinely interested question. Then he could use that to help decide.

Re. pastoral care: people talk a lot of rubbish about Oxbridge pastoral care, and yes, students need to be proactive and sometimes get surprised they can't rely on mum and dad. But I get the impression that (unless you hit a remarkably corrupt/wankerish individual as a tutor, which could happen anywhere), it is just a matter of what suits you. If you like lots of close personal contact with the people who're teaching you, Oxbridge works well. If you are more independent and like hearing plenty from your fellow students, you might prefer somewhere else.

His grades would be absolutely fine, btw, but I think after a bare minimum it's not really very much about grades? This is what they insist and what seems to be true based on who gets offers and who doesn't.

Betelguese Sun 28-Oct-12 21:04:49

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

I think most colleges do the exam during the interview process.

Not sure if all do, but I think it's the norm.

Betelguese Sun 28-Oct-12 21:35:31

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

betel, you started a thread about this before and everyone disagreed with you then.

A student at university is an adult. To say 'nothing is left to the willingness of the student' is simply not true. Students are adults and have responsibilities.

I don't think it has any bearing on whether or not the OP's son will like Oxbridge or somewhere else better - anywhere he goes, he will be expected to take responsibility for his own learning. It is normal.

Betelguese Sun 28-Oct-12 21:41:38

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

A 'DSA' is a 'disabled students' allowance'. A student may be deemed to have a disability.

But that student still needs to be proactive. The college or university has responsibilities, but so does the student.

I think you're derailing this thread - what does it have to do with the OP?

TheCollieDog Sun 28-Oct-12 22:46:49

Whilst all universities have clear policies on welfare, the extent to which they are effective depends very much on individuals

And let's be sure to include students in that. They have to want to be helped. They have to turn up, they have to ask for help, they have to make changes to help themselves. They have to take the anti-d's, or stop drinking, or whatever.

And frankly, if someone is going to commit suicide, they may well do it, whatever the interventions made. That is not an easy thing to accept or understand, but it is a necessary thing to realise.

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