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.

harbingerofdoom Sat 29-Sep-12 21:38:37

Have just come back from Oxford. DD2 is starting her second year in a shared house.
It's all very fresh in my mind, from interview to being there.
She too fell in love with the college.
Need more details from you to help.
DD was at a state school.

gelo Sat 29-Sep-12 22:06:32

Good luck to her Oxford is indeed beautiful. I am taking ds up on Tuesday for the first time and can't wait to see his college. We went through the nail biting last year - if she can perform strongly in the entrance test (assuming her subject has one) then that helps a lot. The interviews are daunting, but once they get going not too bad (usually).

Yellowtip Sat 29-Sep-12 23:04:44

Good luck to your DD but do try to see the good in choices 2-5. My house is a shambles tonight with half packed boxes everywhere, belonging to the DC I'm taking up to/ back to Oxford tomorrow. I've been through this four times now and each time have tried not to be too caught up with it but in the end it's inevitable, as it's hard not to hope against hope that they get an offer, especially in that week or so after interviews and before Christmas.

If you say which course and/ or college or even which aptitude test then some seasoned MNers (possibly including interviewing tutors) might be able to help.... There seem to be lots of Maths MNers around (not me smile).

gelo Sat 29-Sep-12 23:35:13

It's good advice from yellow. If your dd can find a backup (or two) that she's also very happy about and excited to go to it does help ease the nerves somewhat as well as softening the blow if she's unlucky.

Thowra Sun 30-Sep-12 15:34:41

Thanks. Course doesn't have an exam, so a lot rides on the interview. I don't really want to say subject and college, because they only take four, and it could 'out' us. It's a science course at a college that is pretty highly regarded but not as sought after as Christchurch, Magdalen etc. Actually I've googled the tutor who will probably be interviewing blush, and their specialism is about as far from DDS special interests as can be, and does not feature at all in her PS. Because of this I am wondering whether the college is in fact the best choice. eek. I'm overthinking it, aren't I?

I do like her other choices, but I think everything is going to feel second best if it's not Oxford. I realize this is ridiculous, believe me, I do.

Thowra Sun 30-Sep-12 15:37:16

Oh, and DD is state school. they are very supportive, but I don't know if they do the sort of interview practice she might get at private.

OneHandFlapping Sun 30-Sep-12 15:42:42

Tell her not to lose heart if she seems to be making a hash of the interview (Hopefully she'll get one if she's got good grades.) DS felt he answered every question wrong/forgot to consider things/said stupid things, and managed to get an offer. Other people who felt their interview went well didn't get in. You just can't tell.

Thowra Sun 30-Sep-12 16:00:03

She 'should' get an interview. GCSE's were mostly A* with a couple of A's. AAAA at AS. predicted A*A*A at A2 (her school will not predict up, they will only give exactly what UMS scores indicate at AS. A lot of schools would have predicted her A*A*A*.)

PS seems pretty good, she researched well, did many drafts, and had it looked over by me / teachers etc. Hopefully her reference should be very good, we haven't seen it yet.

So she's pretty confident she will get to interview, (her subject interview about 75%) and has cleared her diary for the relevant dates in December. After that, well it seems like a bit of a lottery, TBH.

Anyone else applying this year?

gelo Sun 30-Sep-12 16:48:19

My experience for science apps without an entrance test is they seem to be very fair about inviting the best people with a decent chance of meeting the offer and they don't discriminate between people predicted As and A*s either (recognising that schools differ widely in their ability to predict this) so I think your dd is right to cautiously expect an interview.

Her best course of action between now and then is, as well as keeping on top of her regular work, to read around her subject as much as possible and be prepared to talk intelligently about it. Good luck to her!

Thowra Sun 30-Sep-12 17:10:25

Yes, wider reading does seem to be the key, she was already doing this, but she's made herself a little reading list to cover before December, and of course she's rereading the books she mentioned in her PS.

Yellowtip Mon 01-Oct-12 23:28:00

Thowra she sounds as though she'll be bound to get an interview with those grades + no written test + a good reference from a state school (grammar or not). She also sounds way ahead of the game if she's re-reading books mentioned on the PS. I'd also say that not having flagged up the same special interest as the tutor in question would be good, not bad, for a number of reasons. She looks to be set fair I'd have said.

gelo (just registered the name smile) I'm literally just back with DS having found himself allocated a stunning room with his own shower room and beams and magnificent views much to the chagrin of the lovely freshers helpers not to mention his envy sisters whose rooms don't compare. They're being grudgingly good natured. I hope you and your DS both have a great day tomorrow (sorry, tangent). Hope he fares as well.

gelo Tue 02-Oct-12 01:09:22

Hi yellow, yes it is me, and thanks for your good wishes. How lovely for your ds to have such a splendid room. We shall see what my ds has to live in for the year tomorrow (well later today,in fact). Fingers crossed he's happy with it (he's not usually fussy, so should be OK). I hope all of yours have a great term too.

Ds got back from Italy late last night, most of his clothes are still wet (we don't have a tumble drier, and it's not been a good drying day), and instead of packing sensibly today he's been getting a haircut and cobbling together a computer from various bits begged borrowed or stolen as he's decided the hard drive on his laptop is faulty and it needs to be returned and no he can't survive without a computer for any length of time hmm. So just within the last hour a huge disorganised pile of stuff has appeared in the living room, and he's almost certainly forgotten several vital bits and pieces (especially since he lost the list of essentials that I made for him), but at least he has a working computer, so that's alright grin. I have no idea how it will all fit in the car - how you manage with multiple dc at once astonishes me!

We just heard today that one of his friends has quit uni after just 4 days, so I'm feeling just slightly jittery. Oh and he's picked up a nasty cough from somewhere too, so not the best way to start the term - tired, ill, and probably missing half his things. I'd better go and join the empty nest thread (apologies OP for hijacking yours) for some hand holding.

Thowra Tue 02-Oct-12 19:22:16

Not a hijack, Gelo - I should have called this thread "Parents of Oxbridge applicants for 2013 And People Who Can Tell Us How To Get In"

Yellowtip Tue 02-Oct-12 19:35:55

Well you mentioned overthinking it Thowra which may be the first mistake (though your DD does sound a very strong candidate, so your mistakes may well not matter a bit smile). I'd say that key to the process is for a student to be natural and not go in with preconceptions but to go with the flow. On some other very recent thread (can't remember where) there's a link to an indie school which has 'Oxbridge Mondays' and 'Individual Oxbridge Planners' and has sessions on 'perennial problems' etc. That all sounds massively tense. She really does look good on paper Thowra but it's so difficult if they fall in love because it must be hideous to have to pick up the pieces if the December letter says 'Thanks, but no thanks'. We were talking about this yesterday when I dropped mine off: it's best to get perspecive on Oxford - a lot of it is very much the same as other good places and pretty mundane. I'm not a scientist though and have no scientist except for one medic, so can't help with the nitty gritty of interviews on that I'm afraid. The general stuff is the same though across all subjects and the Oxford website is fab.

funnyperson Tue 02-Oct-12 22:49:29

Good luck. I think it is brave to apply and in the end if the student has fallen in love with the place thats a good sign. Something has to pull them through the nerves and make them push the academic boat out. Its a wonderful wonderful place.
Cambridge admission stats are scary. As many with fantastic grades were rejected as accepted last year.
I havent got any advice. Well except that it helped DD that I dropped her off for her interview. I wish I had done the same for DS. They both found the journey up for the interview, and the days immediately before, quite daunting. I think its perfectly ok if they want a parent with them on the journey. The colleges do handle the interviews very well though so no need to stay in town though many parents do. Its important to keep in telephone contact the night before 2nd interviews I think.
I dont think it matters about having a different specialist interest. The faculty has to 'pass' each candidate, then the college. The faculty ranks the candidates so if approved by faculty but not by college then another college might interview. This can be exciting and/or stressful. I think its best not to have too many extra curricular commitments this term. Just enough to distract from nerves but not so as to interfere with sleep and interview prep.
Getting rejected after interview isn't too bad because at least the student has tried. Those that were gutted at dd/ds schools tried again the following year.

funnyperson Tue 02-Oct-12 22:53:00

PS it is very important that your DD doesn't get drunk the day before her interview.

funnyperson Tue 02-Oct-12 23:04:13

I hasten to add that mine didn't but it was an apparently common response to terror and independence for interviewees to sample the Oxford bars and clubs the night before.

I used to do mock Oxbridge interviews and am ex-Oxbridge.

Remember that the person interviewing wants her to fit in. Your tutor sees a lot of you - being one of four in a college rather than one of 250 at Warwick or Edinburgh or something - and needs to look forward to that time.

All applicants will have a string of good grades, extra-curricular accomplishments, etc. It's the spark they are looking for. When they ask a question they want to see the thinking, not the answer. Applicants need to consider what their spark is - say they are interviewing eighteen people for those four places, why will you be memorable?

I muddled up my interviewers slightly and spent ten minutes telling a literature professor that literary criticism is poncey navel gazing. He loved it, and quoted me back to myself some years later although in his defence he was very drunk.

There is also a possibility that you apply to one college and are interviewed by others - this certainly used to be the case and helps them even out unbalanced applications. An Oxford place is an Oxford place, and if they think you'd be more suited to St Cuthbert's than Holy Slipper then they might be right. I'd have been miserable at the college I applied to, but thrived at the college who offered me a place.

funnyperson Tue 02-Oct-12 23:09:51

pps DD says that she was asked by the freshers this week whether anyone would like them and if she was happy. She is very very very very very happy and everyone is really friendly and no one at her college is in the least bit snobby. She also says it is quite common for students to think they have been accepted by mistake.

funnyperson an acquaintance was barred from the college bar during her interview weekend for drunken antics, and blames that for her failure to get in!

funnyperson Tue 02-Oct-12 23:19:05

ppps there is a good pastoral system. DD has 8 college 'children' (freshers) whom she has already taken out to lunch, and a lovely college 'mum' and 'dad' (they are in the year above). DD is at the best college. It is the one she chose first. I am at one with her on her opinion.

yellowtip will have an interesting mum's perspective as to which is the best college.

funnyperson Tue 02-Oct-12 23:20:24

horatia yes, exactly. You would think the interviewees would know better, its surprising how many loose their head.

Copthallresident Wed 03-Oct-12 00:34:58

I have a Scientist daughter and her peers went through this a couple of years ago. I think Yellowtip's advice is very wise. Your daughter sounds like an amazing candidate and should get in but some of the ablest candidates don't , and some surprising ones do. She will however get in to an excellent course elsewhere, wherever DD's Science geek friends ended up they are loving it, are being challenged and inspired, and being taught by exciting people at the frontiers of Science ( Hadron Collider Physicists at Durham, Steve Jones at UCL etc etc) A lot of very able Scientists go for Medicine, or Cambridge because it has a reputation for being the Science Oxbridge and the Natural Sciences course is highly regarded if they are going into research (cross disciplinary knowledge is of benefit in some cutting edge research). It certainly seemed marginally easier to get on to some of the specialist courses at Oxford (certainly Biology) but clearly if someone is passionate about specialising they will choose Oxford rather than Cambridge. Also bear in mind that some non Oxbridge Science courses are actually more difficult to get on to, depending on specialisms and their place in world research rankings. I gather the Durham Chemistry course is notorious for rejecting applicants who get into Oxbridge (including one of DDs peers predicted A*A*AA) so might be an unwise number 2 for all but the very cleverest. And certainly Cambridge seem to have frequently added to feedback that although they had been unable to offer a place at undergraduate level they advised they reapply at Master's level!

DD's school advised that there are two big sources of uncertainty. Firstly that you don't know the quality and quantity of candidates applying to a particular course and college in any given year. They publish admissions stats but these just encourage strategic applications, so that less popular colleges and courses become popular the next year. Though Cambridge have a formal pool and Oxford an informal one, a good cadidate seems to have less chance of being picked up if they were just unlucky enough to be applying to a very popular course at a popular college. Secondly you are interviewed by the tutors who will teach you and though they will try to be objective inevitably they are going to be swayed if someone is clearly going to be a pleasure for them to teach. Although your daughter should stick to her guns in terms of what interests her, that is where she is going to demonstrate passion for the subject, it might be worth a bit of reading up on, and bearing in mind, the interviewers area of interest. It might help establish a rapour and if nothing else it might be what triggers an off piste question! I know of someone who was interviewed by a plant biologist though their area of interest was molecular biology. They got tripped up because they were asked to talk about a stag beatle, they went into all sorts of details about the advanced biochemistry and various qualities at a molecular level of beatles (sorry this is probably rubbish in Biology terms but that sort of thing anyway!!!). They were so keen to show off and got so stuck in their train of thought it didn't occurr to them until after that when the interviewer kept asking if there was anything else, that what he might have been after was more wide ranging and in his area, rather than more detailed, things they assumed didn't need saying, for instance that it was called a stag beatle, it's position in the food chain, role in the environment, endangered status , especially since the candidate has included in his application that he volunteered in a nature reserve (and had done studies of stag beatle numbers!) It was mentioned on the feedback .

I hope this helps. Good luck to your daughter.

And above all do warn her this is just the start of it. The step up to university level science is a big one, they have a lot of contact and lab hours, a high workload and are really challenged. Even some of DDs peers who achieved 4 A*s have found themselves struggling, and even retaking years, and not because they were a fixture in the bar. Some of the advanced concepts they are studying are just very difficult to understand.

Copthallresident Wed 03-Oct-12 00:54:44

You might find this article on Cambridge admisssions interesting

Yellowtip Wed 03-Oct-12 12:02:41

Eight DC funny?! That's four times the norm isn't it? My DDs have been rather disappointed in their DC. That doesn't seem uncommon. DD3 only has one son because the daughter missed her grades and didn't get in. DS1 acquired a college godfather within minutes ao arriving (best friend of the college dad, both of whom helped us lug DS's bags up the long and winding stairs). The godfather had had a very bad experience last year with his DC, one of whom was so sullen he responded to the warm letter of welcome by saying he wanted to opt out of the parent-child system (and the putative dad had gone to huge trouble to write his letter, including photographs of the parents' wedding). Anyhow the godfather was lovely, a gregarious mathematician. I think he'll spoil DS rotten.

Thowra Wed 03-Oct-12 17:06:18

Thanks, Copthall, that article was very, very interesting, I wonder how close that is to the Oxford method. And thanks to everyone for their replies.

I can't be the only one with DC applying this year? I bet Oxbridge is stuffed to the gills with Mumsnet offspring grin

Yellowtip Wed 03-Oct-12 17:16:12

What's being looked for in the interview is the same; the pooling at Oxford is quite different.

funnyperson Wed 03-Oct-12 22:13:21

It seems a lot, doesnt it, yellowtip? Typical of DD though she loves them all already in her warm hearted way. They probably think she is very peculiar what with her painted dungarees which are so not this season. Loving your DS's godfather!

I'm impressed with the Oxford mathematicians. They seem rounded. Surprisingly.

Is DS in the attic at a very old college with a tower?

Thowra Oxford and Cambridge take students from all over.

Some schools get loads in every year though. Someone pointed out a poster in the Jack Wills shop (which I was browsing in, to DS's horror) which has the names and coats of arms of 'the great schools' all of which have very significant numbers going. DD thinks it is because the pupils learn at school to work hard, be seriously organised, and do lots and lots of other stuff too to an excellent standard so being at Oxford or Cambridge isn't tough, its a natural progression and therefore not as daunting. That said, after about a term or so, everyone has had a few social corners rubbed off and upped their academic game. The state school pupils learn to accept the public school pupils and vice versa. The selection process really does seem to choose those who are quick to learn so they all get on with each other because relieved they don't have to apologise for being bright and worried they wont write decent essays etc. No one, thank goodness, will tease them for being nerdy and loving books.

Yellowtip Wed 03-Oct-12 22:35:59

It's a Tudor foundation funny but he can see the tower of the much older next door college from his window, about 100 yards away, the other side of the quad. Its bells strike every quarter of an hour, rather loudly.

funnyperson Wed 03-Oct-12 22:45:50

Ah yes.
Thowra I've a feeling the deadline is in a week or so therefore there is time to consider your DS's reference.
Schools vary , so it might be helpful for you and/or DS to go and see whoever is co ordinating his reference to make sure the very best foot is put forward. So often by this stage no one teacher knows everything about your son and really good stuff can get forgotten. They could confirm stuff he has put in his statement and add in stuff he left out. Also if something is in his reference he need not put it in his statement so he can get more across that way. Also it may be helpful for the school to know the name and contact of the college admissions tutor and the faculty admissions tutor to check what should be included in a reference to give a student the best chance: stuff like overcoming family or financial challenges or being looked after or being dyslexic should all possibly be in there but a lot of young people are shy and some teachers don't think to put it in. Some teachers miss out olympiad results.

gelo Thu 04-Oct-12 00:14:08

That bodes badly for Sunday morning lie ins yellow. Mind you nowhere in central Oxford is very safe from the campanologists, and the room sounds well worth that minor drawback.

funny, I'm hoping that your thoughts on Oxford mathmos are correct as ds will be spending much time with them.

funnyperson Thu 04-Oct-12 00:25:07

gelo is he doing maths then? Thats impressive. I've heard its hard work and they learn loads but seem to socialise and play loads of music any way!

gelo Thu 04-Oct-12 00:33:48

yes funny he's an aspiring mathematician. Biased me thinks he's well rounded too, and a couple of people told him they thought he was 'too normal' for Cambridge maths where the mathmos have a reputation for being a bit wierd. Doing some music and other things too sounds right up his street, just as long as he can keep up with the work too.

MordionAgenos Thu 04-Oct-12 02:51:16

@gelo ahem angry

grin yes we were a bit wierd in my day. I was significantly weirder than everyone else though. grin

gelo Thu 04-Oct-12 09:21:22

blush oops, sorry mordion! He actually has a number of friends that he's met at various places who are just beginning maths at Camb and they don't all seem too badly wierd and he gets on well with all of them in any case, so I reckon he probably could have fitted in there. He preferred the feel of Oxford though.

sieglinde Thu 04-Oct-12 12:33:04

Hi, all. My ds is applying for Physics and Philosophy. That means he will sit the PAT - eek.

I'm an Oxford admissions tutor myself and want to wish all of your dcs good luck. Remember that whatever you've heard, we just look for the people who will get the most from the course.

exgov Thu 04-Oct-12 16:59:45

My ds is applying for Computer Science at Cambridge. He missed the school visit there through illness, so isn't sure what to expect. I think he's probably good enough to get an interview, though whether he'd thrive there I don't know. I'm hoping they will be able to tell!

wordfactory Thu 04-Oct-12 17:40:13

SEIG or indeed anyone else in the know...what happens if there are a rash of decent applicants for the same course at the same college? All good but too many of them IYSWIM. Do they pass them on to a college that has too few? Would that college be pissed at not being the chosen college?

sieglinde Thu 04-Oct-12 17:55:28

Hi, depends a bit on the subject, but in most cases there is a redistribution system to prevent exactly this kind of problem from blocking good applicants.

In my subject certain colleges get far far more outstanding applicants than others, so they redistribute those people to other colleges. No, nobody minds not being first choice; we all know how hard it is to choose!

In medicine, law and physics admissions are now hardly college based at all.

So pick the place your dc likes, and don't fret over any school bosh about not sending two people to one college and other nutty shibboleths of the remote and tweedy past.

wordfactory Fri 05-Oct-12 07:43:44

Thank you.

I am thinking about my niece who would love to go, but knows nothing of university, let alone Oxbridge.

I suggested she look at the colleges online but she was a little overwhelmed. How does one choose? Are certain colleges more Englishy or Mathsy?

Yellowtip Fri 05-Oct-12 09:48:15

Is your niece thinking about applying for 2013 word? If she is, she's only got a few days before applications close. Presumably it's for next year or the one after.

Yes, colleges do have strengths and some are 'known' for certain subjects. And not all colleges teach all subjects. Looking at the numbers of undergraduates for each course at each college is helpful (all the numbers are on the website) and the number of fellows and tutors at each college is another good indication (on the college websites) because sometimes the student numbers aren't noticeably different from the intake at other colleges but there's nevertheless a particular strength. I myself don't think that applying to an 'Englishy' college will affect a student's chances of success however - it's swings and roundabouts. What is her subject? Tell her not to do an Open Application if she wants to retain some control!

sieglinde Law applications still start off at the college of choice don't they? Those not picked up at the outset then go to the faculty for further consideration. Medicine and Physics are clearly different but when you say admissions are hardly college based don't you mean the shortlisting process?: decisions in Medicine at least are still down to the interviewing colleges, pretty much, with the college of choice having first pick. Perhaps Physics is different.

wordfactory Fri 05-Oct-12 09:53:56

yellow she would be next year's application.

To be honest she didn't even think about applying anyhwere until recently. She's not from that environment. Her parents still think it's all a bit daft and not for her.

But she's bright and talented. She'd be interested in History of Art. But as a working class girl from Manchester I don't know how she'll fair. I think a big fun college would suit her better. Then sometimes I think she might fair better at a big red brick uni. I dunno.

sieglinde Fri 05-Oct-12 10:12:03

Yellow, yes, you are right to give more details. What I meant was that the days of one tutor, one decision are over in everything, though I understand English is still much more collegey than most.

wordfactory - she should go to Open Days - colleges have them and so do faculties - and go to the stuff laid on. Typically there are lectures in the Faculty and a chance to meet college tutors and ask questions. All of it is well worth it.

Colleges and subjects - a lot of misunderstandings here. it's true that some places kinda specialise - Trinity Cambridge and classics, for instance - but in general the best plan to is to research the teaching staff at a college. While maths and physics are taught pretty centrally, most humanities subjects are still mostly college-based, so the people on the coll website ARE the people with whom she will spend most of her time. (History and classics are now much more option-based, that said.) Some reputations are a bit old and whiskery - Wadham for example used to be regarded as the ne plus ultra for English because Terry Eagleton was there, but he hasn't been near the place for 15 years. Best as said to look at the college websites, do a bit of googling. She could research one college a week from now till next October, perhaps? thestudentroom can be helpful - with a pinch of salt...

A key factor is cost - colleges vary a LOT in their charges for accommodation and how much they have on hand.

Very generally, the hardest places to get into are apt to be the smaller stone colleges. People are put off big rich colleges like Johns and Christ Church by the image problems, but think say Hertford or Exeter looks friendly. Anywhere more recent than 1750 is often an easier bet for entrance. A few places still have regional links - Exeter and the West Country, Keble and the North, Jesus and Wales - and the last name is so offputting that it's an easier bet than some - but that doesn't mean someone from London would be rejected by any of these. Just there's sometimes a few tiny pots of dosh knocking about smile. Think Jesus has monies for the scions of Welsh clergy...

Message me privately if I can be of more help. She should absolutely go for it if she's prepared to work hard and has 3 As predicted at A2.

Yellowtip Fri 05-Oct-12 10:21:40

Tell her parents not to be daft then word! I bet you're not backwards in coming forwards smile History of Art is relatively new at Oxford, as a discrete subject - much more established at Cambridge. And a lot of the strongest applicants seem to apply to London and the Courtauld don't they? Tbh if that's her subject then she's going to be a breath of fresh air (I'm failing to not stereotype here). By no means all colleges do it anyhow. Maybe start off by looking at Wadham or Catz?

wordfactory Fri 05-Oct-12 13:42:58

Thank you everyone.

I am no wallflower yellow but have to be careful cos she's not my biological neice IYSWIM. She's my brother in law's step daughter and I don't know her Mum well at all.

We live part of the week, not far from Oxford (an hour and a bit), so I'll invite her to stay with us toi visit some open days.

wordfactory Fri 05-Oct-12 13:45:11

And yes, finance will be an issue.
We would like to help...but her Mum may be averse to that, I dodn't know. If she has to self fund it will be loans.

OatyBeatie Fri 05-Oct-12 13:52:13

Bit of a hijack, but does anyone have any thoughts about good colleges to apply for in law? As well as the availability of good teaching in that subject, a major concern would be accommodation within college for all three years (if such a thing is still possible). And probably a modern, diverse sort of atmospere rather than the dyed in the wool trad colleges. Any thoughts about St Catz for example?

DS is young-in-year, wholly impractical and rather shy, so needs a welcoming supportive environment!

Yellowtip Fri 05-Oct-12 15:27:35

I can see the need to tread warily then word. But depending on parental income your niece could have her loan replaced in part by a grant through SFE, a tuition fee reduction through the Oxford scheme, an Oxford Opportunity Bursar and further support beyond even that through one of the new Moritz-Heyman scholarships, depending also on postcode and school.

Oaty accommodation on the main college site for all three years is the exception rather than the rule. It can be difficult to divine from the websites, which often refer to 'college owned accommodation', capable of referring to a multitude of sins. I'd have thought behind the imposing walls all colleges are diverse and modern - the fabric of a college won't prevent that. And as for 'good teaching' - it's all relative! I'm sure the most brilliant minds don't necessarily make the best teachers either. And you never know which tutor will buzz off on sabbatical or defect. So, once a student has picked the 'perfect choice', what happens when he's re-allocated prior to interview, or pooled? It's best to be prepared for all those things, life's rich tapestry etc. smile

sieglinde the very best of luck to him with the PAT and at interview. But I think he may not need any luck - I remember his grades from last year....

sieglinde Fri 05-Oct-12 17:25:33

Yellow, everyone needs a bit of luck. Many thanks for it! Agree with your advice to word - and Oxford is no more expensive than the vast majority of other places when it comes to fees.

funnyperson Fri 05-Oct-12 19:14:54

Yes, Sieglinde, the very best of luck for him, and also wishing him lots of fun with his extra reading and stuff. I enjoyed 'The New Science of Strong Materials' when doing physics in the sixth form and am told on the 'girls and physics' thread here that others enjoyed it too. Do let us know what books he reads and whether they are any good, just for interest and because i am nosy.

Sympathique Fri 05-Oct-12 20:43:49

Just wanted to leap to the defence of Cambridge mathmos - in the very unlikely event any budding applicant were to be put off: they're an amazing bunch and loads of them excel in music and the other opportunities on offer; they're so bright they can fit in lots of extra-curriculars while lesser mortals slave at essays and lab sessions. [Disclaimer: sad to say, no one in the current generation of this family inherited the maths genes - they just watch in awe].

2plus2 Fri 05-Oct-12 21:21:50

Ds1 wants to study for a masters in mathematics. He is sitting the MAT at the beginning of November. He goes to an ordinary bog standard comprehensive so any tips on helping him would be great. He's put Durham, Warwick and Nottingham as his other choices. Thank you for your help.

gelo Fri 05-Oct-12 23:45:23

2plus2 from what I've read it seems they use the MAT results more than anything else to decide who to invite for maths interview. So if you get above a certain score you are interviewed, if you are a little below it and your grades are very good or you have some mitigating circumstances then they may invite you to see if you were having a bad day when you sat the Mat, but in general, to get an interview it's essential to do well on the MAT.

After that, it's difficult to know exactly what goes on. They seem to score your interviews and amalgamate that score with your MAT score and also your prior achievements/UCAS reference, but it seems there isn't complete uniformity across colleges as to how much weighting is given to each. St Johns openly say on their website that the MAT score and prior attainment/reference is most important and interviews carry relatively little weight, whereas an old Worcester maths tutor's blog I found seemed to imply that there the MAT is largely disregarded (except as a selection tool for deciding who to invite to interview) and that at the interview stage everyone has a blank slate - though they also give an extra test to their candidates at interview too. (Do note that this was from 2007 so their policy may have changed). Everyone who gets an interview will be interviewed by at least two colleges in any case, so perhaps slight differences in how they prioritise weightings doesn't matter too much. I presume your ds has already chosen a college?

I've just googled and found the blog again, it's here and may interest you, as he seems to have a particular interest in finding mathematical talent in state school pupils that may reassure you.

So for advice: know the MAT syllabus really well (I think it's largely C1 and C2) and do all the past papers. Ds found there were enough on the website to practise on, but on TSR people do complain they run out sometimes - this is a bit of a problem since they're not very similar to anything else. The interviews will be mathematical too, so just do lots of maths and be prepared to solve (or attempt to solve) less straightforward questions than regular A level ones. Although the questions are likely to be trickier they are unlikely to be on topics not yet studied, or at least not on things that can't be figured out if you keep a cool head and apply the knowledge you know.

I can't think of any other advice at all - they're looking for good mathematicians, so you need to be good at maths and that's all really. Good luck to your ds.

Betelguese Fri 05-Oct-12 23:56:24

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MordionAgenos Sat 06-Oct-12 01:24:00

When I had my interviews, so long long ago, I was seen by two tutors - one was the director of studies in the college, she was a pure specialist, the other was the applied specialist. In both interviews I was asked to solve some problems, but they didn't just present them to me and say 'go on then, do that', they set it up first, doing some teaching along the way (because the problems were way beyond the further maths syllabus) - and then asked me to carry on. It was fine. It was fun. But we also talked about other stuff too - with one of them it was all music, with the other one it was all Dr who with a soupçon of blakes 7. They were interested in what I was interested in, but to be fair the interests they fixed on for the talky bit were clearly interests they shared. And, in case that has worried you - of the 7 other mathmos in my year,while almost all of us were musical in a big way, nobody else w a Sci Fi fan. So clearly they were just offering places to people who liked Sci Fi - it was just lucky for me that I got to spend half my interview talking about stuff I could happily witter on about for a lifetime, rather than having to talk about....I don't know. Current affairs, or similar.

Betelguese Sat 06-Oct-12 11:47:42

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

2plus2 Sat 06-Oct-12 13:04:52

Thank you for your help. He really wants to go to Oxford and visiting the other universities has made him even more determined. Let's hope it translates into him working hard grin

Thowra Sun 07-Oct-12 09:21:36

Oh, yes, Betelgeuse, we are hoping and preparing!

I'm even having Oxford dreams at night hmm

I'm so nervous now, I can't think what I will be like if she goes to interview, or when offers are due. I don't think I've ever wanted anything so much in my life.

Could someone pass me a grip, please? I seem to have lost mine blush

Betelguese Sun 07-Oct-12 11:17:40

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MordionAgenos Sun 07-Oct-12 13:38:19

@Thowra it's not your thing, though, is it. It's hers. If my mum had ever said, re me going to Cambridge 'I don't think I've ever wanted anything so much in my whole life' I would have been more than a little hmm And I might have felt ridiculously pressured. I think you need to get a serious grip and take a long hard look at yourself. This isn't for you. It's your DDs life.

Just on a basic only wanting what's best for your DD surely things like hoping they are born healthy come higher up the scale than getting into Oxbridge? Oxbridge is great, apply, don't apply, whatever - but never make it the be all and end all. That would be Bad. There are plenty of great universities out there.

Pleaseandthankyou Sun 07-Oct-12 15:45:19

Betel where would I find more info on MIT. DS very interested in engineering but we assumed MIT would be out of reach and too expensive.

Thowra Sun 07-Oct-12 15:54:48

If my mum had ever said, re me going to Cambridge 'I don't think I've ever wanted anything so much in my whole life' I would have been more than a little And I might have felt ridiculously pressured.

well, er, yes, that's why I'm saying it anonymously, to a bunch of total strangers, instead of, you know, to DD hmm

Just on a basic only wanting what's best for your DD surely things like hoping they are born healthy come higher up the scale than getting into Oxbridge?

Well, yes, you've got me there, but I think in normal conversation that sort of thing is a given, don't you?

OK, so it's not alright to want something very, very good for your kids, and to want it a lot. Film Studies at the local Poly it is, then.

VerityClinch Sun 07-Oct-12 15:59:18

If any of your children have applied to St Anne's, do PM me. I went there. I know it will have changed loads but just from a confidence perspective it might help to talk to someone who went there way back when?

VerityClinch Sun 07-Oct-12 16:19:18

I did modern langs and linguistics btw. But also have close friends who did history and eng lit, so if any of that is relevant...

Thowra Sun 07-Oct-12 16:28:26

Thowra it's not your thing, though, is it. It's hers

Oh, and it kind of is my thing, as wherever she goes it's going to cost me about £15 k. I've never paid that sort of money for anything that was nothing at all to do with me...

webwiz Sun 07-Oct-12 16:52:42

Don't worry Thorwa letting out on here is a much better idea than some of the Oxbridge stress I've seen in real life.

I don't think DD2's friend will ever forget the stand up row her mum had in the middle of a year 13 parents evening about how the school were handling her Oxford application.

webwiz Sun 07-Oct-12 16:53:58

whoops Thowra not thorwa - trying to multitask and failing smile

Yellowtip Sun 07-Oct-12 17:37:58

Thowra you did also say 'we' were preparing. I get the point about being honest on an anonymous forum but it's really, really important not to ramp up the pressure. If anything parents at this stage would do best to affect to shrug shoulders and let their DC to get on independently. Maternal Oxford dreams are not a good sign. You've about seven weeks to go before you even get the interview call. I think you should try very, very hard to contain your enthusiasm until she gets in - and once actually there, to try to stand back (ration visits!).

Betelguese Sun 07-Oct-12 18:09:34

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

OatyBeatie Sun 07-Oct-12 18:15:11

I've been v careful to tell son that we (i.e. mum and dad) don't really mind if he gets into Oxford or not, so long as he thinks hard about which is the best univ for him and gives all applications his best shot. This is partly to take the pressure off him but largely because it really isn't the be all and end all. For some courses and not others, Oxford offers advantage over a lot of other universities. But it isn't a gold standard.

Betelguese Sun 07-Oct-12 18:15:11

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

2plus2 Sun 07-Oct-12 18:34:32

It is our sons dream to go to oxford, as parents we just want him to be happy wherever he goes and have actively encouraged positivity towards other universities that he has visited.
He knows whatever results he gets we are and always will be there for him.

MordionAgenos Sun 07-Oct-12 19:12:59

My mum didn't want me to go to Cambridge. She thought it 'wasn't for the likes of us' (council estate, second generation gypsy (settled, obviously) immigrants). She actually would quite have liked me to have gone to the former RC secondary modern rather than the former RC grammar I did go to, on the same basis, but she was persuaded out of that by my primary school.

My DD is considering Cambridge (still a little way off yet) but she is also looking at the top conservatoires. I have been VERY downbeat about all of it - I'm supportive obviously (god knows, with the cost of all the music stuff) but the main thing I want her to realise is that all she can do is her best and as long as she does that then I will be proud of her and happy for her wherever she ends up. I also want her to realise that she isn't locked in to doing music if she changes her mind even despite all the money already spent. If I was having dreams about her attending a particular institution I'd be really concerned about being over invested, to be honest.

I know we all want the best for our kids and we want them to be brilliant and for others to recognise how fab they are - that's natural, of course it is. But this is the stage where parents have to really step back and not fall into the trap of living vicariously through their kids. I saw so many people at Cambridge who were plain unhappy, in a place they didn't want to be doing stuff to please their parents. Not the majority of course - but not just isolated individuals either. The impetus for this has to come from the young person, not from the parent.

rejandme Sun 07-Oct-12 19:15:53

Throwra. Please don't be upset by any remarks made earlier. My son has just gone back for his second year at Oxford. He wanted to go. I wanted more than anything in the world for him to get in because it was what he wanted. I feel so proud of him that it hurts. Neither his father nor I went to university. He never sees his Dad and I am not a pushy parent. His school encouraged him to go. I think if the school think it is the right thing it must be. The whole interview process was extremely daunting and waiting for the results in December a nightmare but it is the right place for him so the agony of it all was worth it. I am sure that that is what you want-the right environment for your child to flourish. Good luck.

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.

gelo Tue 09-Oct-12 22:07:28

It doesn't bother me in the least if someone says 'we are preparing' or 'dc is preparing'. Some people just do use the 'royal we' more often than others. It's just a turn of phrase and I don't think you can reliably infer more or less parental interference from either statement.

Tressy Tue 09-Oct-12 22:14:09

To the OP, good luck for your DD. I can imagine you are really behind her and proud of her.

Different situation (not Oxbridge) but I went through the rollercoaster of UCAS with my DD. She had a goal and it started looking like she might not get the opportunity to fulfill it but thanks to excellent advice and encouragement I got on here she made it. I was right beside her through from start to finish. Don't think you have made an arse of yourself, just be prepared for the what if's.

Mine has settled in really well and enjoying her course and uni life and I am happy to leave her to it and take a back seat, now.

Sympathique Wed 10-Oct-12 13:26:07

I'm not sure what to make of this thread now. It seems the majority of parents has been labelled as domineering and helicoptering. In my considerable experience, it's a very small minority. Biologically, we are one of those species that puts a lot of effort into a few offspring rather than little effort into a lot (think elephants vs frogs), so it is hardly suprising that we support our children. What should we do? Shove them onto the streets at 16?

Copthall: "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."

What on earth does that mean...? The parents had given absolutely the right response. It's clear to me the young people were transferring their own disappointment onto them; an understandable reaction to what for some will have been their first ever rejection. I daresay the parents coped, they sound wonderful.

Heartfelt good luck to everybody with DCs applying this year and please don't think you shouldn't care! And if they should not get to wherever they have their hopes pinned on, supporting DCs through disappointments and back into the sunshine is one of the most rewarding parts of parenting.

Copthallresident Wed 10-Oct-12 14:53:10

Sympathique I am in no way saying parents shouldn't care, as I said in my post it is important that we support and facilitate our DCs to make their own choices and express their own personalities and passions in the personal statements. Hopefully we will be doing so in partnership with schools who will have the experience, resources and understanding of the current UCAS process and academic environment, and understanding of our DCs to help them make the best choices. A small minority of schools do not give the support they should but that will be obvious from the application and universities take this into account.

However as a parent my DD made me aware of some truly horrific examples of pushy / helicopter parenting, not the majority but a significant minority. Several examples of completing, or comprehensively changing the DCs personal statement and then wading into the school when they changed it back to the DCs original, keeping their DCs grounded from February half term to the exams and dictating the choice of course and university. Schools complain that parents have an outdated wishlist of universities and are not open minded about other universities and courses which may better meet the needs of their DCs, and be more realistic choices. I even heard one parent moaning that Nottingham and Warwick were DCs choices, thirty years ago perhaps they weren't in the league of Oxbridge Bristol and Durham but Warwick?!! I put forward the view of my DDs peers that though their schools prepared them well for the realities of the UCAS process these parental perceptions represent an extra burden of expectation even when their own parents didn't share them. I am only telling it as they experience it.

I know as an academic that as yellowtip says pushiness is not worth it and can be wrong for the child. It is a problem for universities when DCs drop out of courses because they were chosen as a result of what the parents wanted not what was right for DC and that applications that have been written or clearly heavily influenced by parents, or written to a formula give an applicant no advantage.

MordionAgenos Wed 10-Oct-12 15:03:08

@copthall Certainly 30 years ago Warwick was a much better place for maths than Oxford. I expect it still is. As it happens, the maths people I know who went to Warwick are now fantastically successful (but in the world of Tv and writing, not maths). grin

Tressy Wed 10-Oct-12 15:17:56

Copthall, what type of school are we talking about, sounds like an expensive feeder school for Oxbridge.

OP's DD was from a school that had only two pupils applying. I can understand her enthusiasm and her DD is a very strong candidate on paper too.

Sympathique Wed 10-Oct-12 15:38:24

Copthall Forgive me if I am being thick, but this I still don't understand: "I put forward the view of my DDs peers that though their schools prepared them well for the realities of the UCAS process these parental perceptions represent an extra burden of expectation ... even when their own parents didn't share them." Quoi? How can both statements be true? Unless, as I said in my post, the students are transferring their own disappointment. How many times can a parent say "it really doesn't matter, you will be happy, whoever gets you is lucky"?

Yes I understand what you are saying about controlling parents - and yes I have seen a few, but it is a few (and the embattled OP is not one of them). Most of us do the best we can. Yes, I agree with what you are saying about getting in to these places not being the end point - thriving when you are there is what matters. But the universities themselves are pretty good about picking the ones who thrive so applicantys shouldn't worry about that. FWIW, both my DCs were told that the majority of oxbridge freshers are convinced that the university has made a mistake! Whether it is true or not that some independents 'groom' their applicants, the fact that this is spread in the media probably prompts worried parents to interfere to give what they think is a better chance for their DC. I think most parents are not as twisted as it might be imagined. But you're right: there are a few horrors out there. But not on lovely MN, surely!

Mordion I've heard the same about English...

MordionAgenos Wed 10-Oct-12 15:43:20

@sympathique the other way round? Or not? I know one professional writer who went to Oxford. But I know of loads and loads. I always assumed that Fry and Adams notwithstanding, Oxford was perhaps better for English.....but that wasn't based on anything factual, really. My most successful (I think) writer friend was at Cambridge with me. But he read history! Actually - Will Self went to Oxford, no? So it must be better! grin

Sympathique Wed 10-Oct-12 16:02:21

Mordion - I meant that ~6-7 years ago (a DC going thro' UKAS then) Warwick was seen as maybe even more competitive to get into than Ox- or -bridge for English by her school. And it seemed to be viewed an equal privilege to get an offer from any of them. I have no idea what DC's contemporaries who studied English are doing now.

The same kind of kudos seesm to apply now - e.g. Imperial for engineering/science, Manchester/KCL for music, and so on. But the glamour of oxbridge is hard to ignore - and of course they have the interview process which adds to the excitement/terror.

Copthall Visit the student room if you think all the pressure and angst comes from the parents. Also, it's easy when your DCs are past that stage to forget what it was like and tell yourself you were perfectly calm about it all. Maybe you were - I know the odd parent who is a paragon but most of us are mere mortals.

Copthallresident Wed 10-Oct-12 18:40:08

Sympathique I am not a paragon but I was/am busy with my own academic career, some of this pressure is the fulfillment of vicarious ambition. Also my DDs have their own minds about what they want to do. I know nothing apparently, it keeps me humble wink.

Of course the atmosphere of parental expectation/ celebration created by some parents can affect all pupils, however many times you are saying how proud you are of your DC. They are not one dimensional beings our DCs, I don't doubt some percieve failure to get into Oxbridge as a personal rejection but it is possible to be looking forward to uni and have had realistic expectations of success but then be made to feel worse about it because of the way some parents talk and behave. I am only reporting back on the discussions I have had and heard between DD and her peers

However I suspect we agree, it is just a matter of our perspectives. I have never said OP was one of these pushy parents. If you read my posts I was concerned, especially having a Science geek DD with so many Science geek friends, she was putting all her hopes in one basket, and didn't quite appreciate that her other daughters options were just as amazing, if not better than Oxbridge. There were some 4 A* Scientists rejected from Oxbridge but all are thriving now, if finding it a very tough challenge.

*Tressy" DD's peers were at state and private but I will concede an expensive feeder suburb for Oxbridge, the statistics often get quoted. Ridiculous levels of parental desperation prevailed at 11, UCAS quite relaxed in comparison!!

Mordian Not arguing at all. Just that thirty years ago Warwick was very much on the way up in people's perceptions (different to reality) whereas now surely everyone knows it is one of the best. I actually kept being sent off to work on a project with the Business School in the 80s so know all about the scary standard of Maths and brilliant business minds there and was under no illusions about the reality!

cinnamonnut Wed 10-Oct-12 18:42:16

I got three confirmation of receipt emails from universities today smile

funnyperson Wed 10-Oct-12 18:58:31

There is probably a zen to the UCAS process, of caring but not caring. Mindset is important. In short, to care enough to work hard, to be proactive, but not to care so much that it clouds the mind or excludes good options.

Some do better precisely because applying to Oxford is not the norm, but a dream, some do better with family support and precedent. Thowra you do not make an ass of yourself at all: nothing wrong with a parent wanting to share the process: It is a competitive, uncertain, important time and whilst exciting, can be lonely. I wish the DC well.

Sympathique Wed 10-Oct-12 19:49:22

I like the zen idea. Me I practise the swan approach. It's a shame that the original purpose of the thread has been kinda lost. I'm a bit new here. Hope it doesn't always happen. Perhaps it's just a temporary diversion. Lots of time til December - gather Oxford offers aren't out til Jan this time around?? (now there's a nice uncontroversial query). Be nice if parents could share their angsts on here as time ticks by, interview dates get given or not, DCs are flooded with other stuff and one worries how best to bolster them, make sure they get some sleep at least, and so on. Don't know about anyone else but my DCs often asked my advice, still do - WHY?! I'm usually scared they might take it. It would be nice if parents could bounce ideas on here when that happens. Hey ho.

Tressy Wed 10-Oct-12 20:04:27

Cinnamonnut fingers crossed you get the interviews and offers you want.

cinnamonnut Wed 10-Oct-12 20:05:22

Thanks Tressy smile

Exeter gave out some offers in early October within a couple of days of people sending their applications last year, so I'm hoping for something in the next month!

Sympathique Wed 10-Oct-12 20:22:09

Differs between subjects sometimes, so don't get despondent if you don't hear quickly. Means nowt. Exciting times. Good luck!

gelo Wed 10-Oct-12 21:14:40

That would be a shame if it's true sympathetique - one of the really nice things about applying to Ox rather than Camb was knowing either way before xmas. The Ox application system has a few other plus points too, like less stressful pooling and less variable offers.

Yellowtip Wed 10-Oct-12 21:39:47

Exeter is well known for giving out lots and lots of early offers cinnamonnut, but then it doesn't ask for the LNAT. Durham gives a few early offers too, to applicants with lots of A* at GCSE and who then do well in the LNAT (start of Nov?). Don't bite your nails for Bristol. Nottingham can also be slow. UCL starts shelling out offers in January, having told those that it's culled soon after the deadline for LNAT (20 was the minimum cut off for 2011, not sure about 2012). Warwick can go either way: I've seen responses at both extremes for Oxbridge applicants with identical grades and identical predictions from the same school in the same year with both being Oxford applicants (and both successful, as it turned out).

Copthallresident Wed 10-Oct-12 21:43:51

I like Zen and swan.

I was more of an ostrich with a penchant for cliches like "what will be will be". At 11 I so perfected the art of retrieving DD2 from the playground at pick up time without exposure to the miasma of parental anxiety and one up manship that the SAS couldn't have done it better rescuing hostages,
and I tried to do the same metaphorically at 18.

So perhaps next UCAS process (next year sad) I will try a swan with it's head in the sand reciting the "what will be,will be" mantra. Although I also recommend a touch of the domestic goddess (not at all my usual style) to make them feel special, homemade Brownies, tidied room etc,

and chauffeur, really good for getting them to open up about how they feel, something about facing the same direction....

and a taste for romcoms, impossible to stay stressed during a girls' nights bonding over Bridget Jones, Fresh Meat or whatever (QVC even on one occasion blush resulting in the purchase of some truly horrible Xmas deccies). As a result Bridget Jones is now an institution in our family (perfectly valid as Oxbridge preparation, I knew Helen Fielding when she was at St Annes in the 70s, very mousey, always dressed in a beige duffle coat, it's not always the ones who are brimming with intimidating confidence....grin)

cinnamonnut Quite a few unis and subjects will give early offers if predicted grades and early submission to the Oxbridge deadline suggest a strategy of wooing you! Interviews at other unis may turn out to be charm offensives in disguise (UCL do that a lot). Others though may keep you waiting until the bitter end, Durham seem to do that particularly for their most popular courses, and as Sympathetique says it doesn't mean anything except possibly that it is part of their strategy to level the playing field since state school candidates tend to account for a dispropotionate percentage of later applications. Oxbridge applicants usually have self esteemboosting, pressure reducing offers prior to the Oxbridge interviews which helps. It is the medics who sit offerless as everyone else is getting excited and motivated.

Yellowtip Wed 10-Oct-12 21:56:20

It really is very variegated across subjects Copthall. What I said was Law specific but definitely Durham can keep top applicants for the most competitive subjects hanging on for their offer until the bitter end.

Of course lots of parents, no doubt the majority, are clucky and supportive and get it just right but I wholly agree with Copthall that there are some who take over, live vicariously or competitively, and seriously destroy their child. And that really is abhorrent to watch. A very brilliant schoolfriend was destroyed at Oxford by that kind of stuff. And I see these parents now in RL but also on MN. They can be very bitter indeed when things don't turn out 'well'.

Betelguese Wed 10-Oct-12 22:31:00

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Copthallresident Wed 10-Oct-12 22:36:37

yellowtip we crossposted, I was mainly commenting on Science and Humanities. Your Law experience is more relevent to cinnamonnut.

MordionAgenos Wed 10-Oct-12 22:56:44

@betelguese I had a long, severe and damn near fatal health problem when I was in my first year at uni. But I ended up just fine (obviously if I had died then that wouldn't have been the case). I knew a girl on the next corridor whose parents drove her first to drink then to a breakdown and finally to dropping out and doing a TEFL qualification instead (which she also dropped out of). I don't know what happened to her after that. sad

Betelguese Wed 10-Oct-12 23:29:58

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Betelguese Wed 10-Oct-12 23:33:07

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Betelguese Wed 10-Oct-12 23:55:58

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MordionAgenos Thu 11-Oct-12 00:11:18

@betelguese no, that's not what I mean. But never mind.

Betelguese Thu 11-Oct-12 00:21:09

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

cinnamonnut Thu 11-Oct-12 07:07:36

Yeah, I think I'll have a long wait for any but Exeter. I chose Oxford, Durham, Bristol, Nottingham and Exeter in the end - changed UCL to Nottingham at the last minute.

Yellowtip Thu 11-Oct-12 08:18:42

Parental oppression or pressure shouldn't be dressed up as parental support though betelguese, let alone 'simply caring'. That sort of parent can use euphemisms all they like but it doesn't alter the fact that pressure is qualititively different from support - a different beast altogether. The fee thing doesn't help with that of course, just a new stick to beat DC with if you're that way inclined.

I'm not sure at what point on the spectrum that sort of pressure could be said to cause 'health problems' either. I happen to think creating unhappiness in a DC for one's own ends isn't particularly ok, even if you're lucky enough not to trip the DC into full blown mental health issues.

MordionAgenos Thu 11-Oct-12 08:34:00

@yellow exactly. But IME there is no telling that sort of parent.

A family we know is going through something like this at the moment. Excessive parental pressure (in this case oppressively passive aggressive and completely self deluding) is causing real issues. Sad to see.

Copthallresident Thu 11-Oct-12 09:00:29

I was a bit puzzled as to what you were getting at Betalguese. The UCAS process, and University once you get there, is a much more competitive than it ever was in the past, but if you have confidence in yourself, are self motivated and able (and the admissions process resolves the question of whether you are able enough ) then your time at university will be some of the best days of your life and equip you for the future. However if your parents have scarificed your self esteem to their own ambitions and pushed you along then you won't have the self confidence and self motivation to succeed, let alone enjoy the ride, or alternatively you will carry a heavy burden of parental expectations and be so worried about failing you will be one of the ones who crashes and burns after camping out in the library during 24 hour opening. The reason that I get upset seeing this as a parent is that as an academic I see the fall out from pushy and, yes, tiger parenting. Counselling Services in universities have to deal with this in ever increasing numbers.

Perhaps with the right help these DCs will go on and lead fulfilling lives (and I mean happy as well as "successful") but there are plenty of damaged people about who don't.

MordionAgenos Thu 11-Oct-12 09:14:36

I think, if we are talking Oxbridge specifically, in some ways and for some people it is more competitive (which actually doesn't necessarily make it a harder or more stressful process, of course - just one with less chance of success). But for others it is clearly going to be easier than it was in my day when very few comprehensive kids even applied let alone went there, when kids from comps were often not just the first person from their school to apply to Oxbridge but the first person from their family to apply to university, and when you had to do an entrance exam with no tuition or guidance at all from your school. Now that? Was hard. State school kids are much better prepared these days and get much more institutional support. They don't need tiger parents as well.

AnnaBegins Thu 11-Oct-12 09:42:35

Hi, if anyone wants any info/advice about Catz Cambridge please shout or PM me. Or about Cambridge in general.

I would also say, as someone upthread mentioned their DC, or was it niece, thinking that a red brick uni might be better as a state school pupil, I'd have to say in my experience that the opposite is true.

I experienced almost no state/private divide at Cambridge, I have friends from both (am state school myself) and, apart from my close friends, could not tell you what kind of school others at my college went to. I think because everyone is selected on equal academic grounds, no one believes they are better due to the school they went to, academic excellence and a love for the subject come first. It was a really good mix.

However, talking to people at Leeds and Birmingham, both excellent redbrick unis, I was so so surprised to hear that there is a massive state/private divide; from the first week friendship groups are apparently, in the main, formed along these lines. This really surprised me and I offer no explanation, just thought I would share my experience that Oxbridge can be a really accepting and equal environment.

Sympathique Thu 11-Oct-12 09:50:34

Betelguese grants were not on offer for Middle England (excuses to rest of UK, but YKWIM?) five hears ago, and there were fees, albeit at the now laughably low rate of about £1100 a year. So I thought DC2 was unlucky to be hit with £3000... I grovel now.

Copthall I wish mine had stopped enough for girly things! Pressure on themselves seemed relentless - though I would say to anyone with that worry now that they were more resilient than I realised - or maybe I was already a worn out old hag. And they did different but very time-consuming things in and out of school at the same time - it's so tempting to drop non-academic things and focus down on 3 A levels but they're both so glad they kept balls in the air (even if I found myself catching ones that bounced - was that pushiness or support?). Regarding pushiness, I bow to your better knowledge. I guess we were lucky with the parents around us - and schools: in both advice at UCAS evening was to let the DCs decide, it was their life. In one case, now I think back, the head was quite brutal about it. It was good advice - guess she'd seen what you describe. I did read somewhere a long time ago that pushy parents don't produce clever children, just self-conscious and under-confident ones. But DC2 is so under-confident I could cry sometimes - was I pushy then? The other oozes confidence so it seems unlikely. I think there's more to it - but I would think that wouldn't I? Don't let talk of pushiness tar everyone, or prevent decent parents from offering support (and even advice when asked!) - & they're the most likely to get scared by accusations and back off. For DCs it's both an exciting and daunting time, especially if they're going for hard to get into courses or unis. But if they don't try, they'll never know. They shouldn't be stopped by fear of failure.

LettyAshton Thu 11-Oct-12 09:51:24

Good to hear that, Anna.

Dh's niece is at The Royal Holloway and she says it is heaving with yahs who all stick together. But I suppose it's only the same as sic-fi enthusiasts hanging out with each other, or rugger buggers and so on and so forth. I think the fear still persists that one would get to Oxbridge and be ostracised for not knowing how to eat an artichoke correctly.

Betelguese Thu 11-Oct-12 10:10:16

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Yellowtip Thu 11-Oct-12 10:17:12

Sympathique my DC are mixed too, in terms of confidence in their own abilities and sometimes it's clear that certain DC need a boost to that confidence so that they don't under apply. That's very different to the pernicious form of parenting which I, Copthall and Mordion describe. It's pernicious when parents make the whole process of their DCs education their own. That's when it becomes something for themselves - however they delude themselves that it's for the DC - and that's patently wrong.

Yellowtip Thu 11-Oct-12 10:20:50

I agree Betelguese. I also think that parents should leave the fact that they may be paying for part or all of their DC university education right out of count.

MordionAgenos Thu 11-Oct-12 10:24:27

I think most people completely do know the difference between being supportive and being oppressive, actually.

OatyBeatie Thu 11-Oct-12 10:25:19

Agree with Anna's remarks about the minimal presence of a state/private divide at Oxbridge. Even in the 80s when I was a former comprehensive pupil at quite a Sloaney Oxford College it really wasn't a problem. Of course private school students are over-represented but that is an issue of social injustice that Oxford University is keen to correct -- they want clever people, that's all. The dafter kind of Hooray probably finds Oxford a far less congenial place than a clever state school person.

Copthallresident Thu 11-Oct-12 10:43:31

Sympathetique At the end of the day all DCs are different, and there is some nature and some nurture. However there is a difference between the naturally shy, under confident, those predisposed (God forbid) to mental illness etc, the nature bit and those who have been damaged by the nurture side of the equation.

Anna The "yahs", "Sloanes" call them what you will, gravitate to certain universities and seek attention. I had the impression Nottingham, Exeter and Newcastle were "faves" but I guess it is any city centre universities. We get a few at our uni but they soon have to cave to peer pressure (the sort that gave rise to the gap yah video). However I wouldn't say that at any of these universities they represent all private school pupils gravitating to each other, they are about as representative of most private school pupils as the Bullingdon Club is of Oxford. More likely in the background there are plenty of friendship groups forming regardless of where you went to school. That is certainly the experience of DDs peers from both state and private schools wherever they have gone, even at Exeter!

Betelguese Thu 11-Oct-12 10:53:15

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Betelguese Thu 11-Oct-12 11:06:48

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Copthallresident Thu 11-Oct-12 11:10:22

Betalguese I know this very well with a daughter studying Science at an elite uni, the students on her course study for quite a bit more than 45 hours a week, contact hours alone with labs mean she had 9-5 days apart from Wednesdays. They are second only to the medics and architects in terms of workload. It is very tough, Maths and Inorganic Chemistry in particular leave many doing retakes, and redoing years not because they don't work hard but because what they study is just so bloody difficult. I warned the OP about this way back down the thread. However my daughter knew this when she applied, was up forit and she absolutely thrives on it. They have a saying on her course, that you can do the work and have a relationship, you can do the work and party (within reason) but you can't do all three.

However there is a difference between coping with this pressure when it was what you decided on and wanted (and granted some will crack up anyway ) and being pushed into it. I am seeing it particularly amongst DD2s peers. Maybe it is the prospect of fees but quite a few more than in DD1s year are being pushed by their parents into doing STEM subjects when it may not be where their talents most lie (It isn't helped by the fact that GCSE Science and Maths doesn't really give a taste of the difficulty that lies ahead.)

Yellowtip Thu 11-Oct-12 12:23:51

Big, big difference between celebrating hugely because a DC gets into Oxford or Cambridge and sending the DC a message (subliminal or not) that their life (and that of the disappointed parent) can now only ever be second best.

I'm amazed when I see parents on MN saying of their very young DC that they, the DC, wants to go to Oxford or Cambridge and what is the best educational game plan to maximise the chance of bagging the glittering prize.

Then there's the whole ludicrous idea of 'Oxbridge' tutoring: special tailor made packages to allegedly increase the chance of success.

It's all pressure and it's all bad.

Betelguese Thu 11-Oct-12 12:39:36

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MordionAgenos Thu 11-Oct-12 12:50:58

Well, to be fair, I remember saying to my mum when I was about 4, watching the boat race, that I was going to go to Cambridge. Liz Shaw, the third doctor's first assistant, was a Cambridge academic. So, you know...........grin And I did grow up basically always wanting to go there, not just because of Liz shaw, but because it was the Best Place. I would, I suppose, have dumped the notion had it become clear it was ludicrous (like that whole being the first 'lady astronaut' thing I had going on when I was about 8) - but it never did.

Betelguese Thu 11-Oct-12 12:51:46

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Copthallresident Thu 11-Oct-12 13:26:49

This is in danger of getting into a Pythonesque debate! And being of less relevence to OP but to underline the difficulty of STEM courses, at DDs uni if you fail more than 1 out of 9 first year modules, 4 per term and one across both terms you cannot progress to the second year, all are a combination of coursework and marked labs and a final exam (4 exams after Christmas) the 9 modules are 10%of the final degree, so everything you do counts. Two fails and you redo the two modules the following year, more than that and you redo the whole year. It seems to run on similar lines to Medicine. The number of students falling at these hurdles seems quite high, though it is an A*AA course and most have better. I remember that you had to pass at Oxford and hearing of people whose colleges decided whether to let them back in but it didn't seem as common as at DDs uni. The second year has seen her friend who is on a scholarship to read Maths fail 4 out of 9 modules, he worked hard but just struggled with some courses. However it is treated as a fact of life, no disgrace. They seem to get enough support from tutors and each other. I am surprised there aren't more crashing and burning but they are all passionate Scientists, and love their uni and course. There is a wonderful buzz around Science at the moment with all the advances going on, plenty of heroes around, including at their uni. They are pressured but also inspired. We certainly do not subject our first years to such relentless pressure except in the language component of the degree (simply because they are tested regularly to consolodate before they progress)

US seems to be equally hard, a DC I know at Wellesley failed an exam at the end of the first term of the first year and has had to go through the readmission process, failed at first attempt, now parents are forking out for endless Harvard (presumably some sort of preparatory) modules to prepare him for another.

wordfactory Thu 11-Oct-12 13:40:50

anna thank you for your post.

It's my niece I'm trying to convince to at least consider Oxford. I'm going to take her for some open days and see if it appeals to her.

Yellowtip Thu 11-Oct-12 14:05:31

word since she hasn't started to consider Oxford, you should get her to look into the History of Art course at Cambridge too. It has twice the number of places apart from anything else.

wordfactory Thu 11-Oct-12 14:18:47

Oh thank you for the heads up yellow.

I've also really enjoyed the discussion about pushy parenting (vis a vis education). I've always hugely enjoyed being involved in my DC;s education and have high expectations of them. However they often just laugh at me grin.

MordionAgenos Thu 11-Oct-12 14:56:18

@word that sounds a little familiar. My DCs treat me like someone who belongs in a home for the bewildered most of the time. grin Last week, I was away, in a different time zone, and I got a text to ring DD1 so I nipped out of my meeting, all flustered and worried, and rang home, and she wanted to tell me what she got in her English CA (I think it was shakespeare. But I'm not 100% sure, she didn't even tell me she was doing it till she'd done it, so....). So I was all 'oh how great, how brilliant, marvellouswonderfulterrific got to go, bye.....' and she was all 'didn't you expect me to get that then? Do you think I'm thick or something?' grin You can't win as a parent.

Copthallresident Thu 11-Oct-12 15:52:13

My Mum who was Deputy Head and in charge of pastoral care always said that if DCs were cheeky, pushed at the boundaries and made fun of their parents that was usually a good sign. They were sure of their love. It was when they did everything their parents asked, and were anxious in their presence she had to worry.

Doesn't stop her telling me I get far too giddy with them, let them get away with far too much and would never have spoken to her like that (she forgets!!) wink

wordfactory Thu 11-Oct-12 16:20:30

copthall I can only dream of my DC doing as I ask without question grin.

Sympathique Thu 11-Oct-12 16:55:24

Saw this is the Grauniad (sorry if I've missed it posted above)
Applicants (note I don't say parents!) are told NOT to play the numbers game when selecting colleges and I guess the same applies here.

Also, the Mary Beard webchat reminded me of this, should any of your DCs be lucky/unlucky enough to be put in the Cambridge winter pool
(Go to the second entry, "Mr Willetts...")
I think someone has already posted the article based on the Churchill College application process? Together they convey that the process is human, and they do make an effort to give places to students they think will get most from the course - but there is so much cream to pick from. The three artciels together indicate that state school students really should have a go if they want and not be frightened off. The selectives and independents (teachers, pupils - and parents if they listen) have an advantage in that they really know it's a bit of a lottery because they've seen so many apply, and don't pin their hopes on a lone pupil or two; one of my DCs, convinced she'd blown it, was most worried about letting her teachers down, though I reassured her they'd have seen it all before!

Sympathique Thu 11-Oct-12 17:03:44

Copthall Ah - penny just dropped. That's why they like pupils along with parents at parents' evening. It must tell them a lot!

Copthallresident Thu 11-Oct-12 18:04:16

That, and the vicarious pleasure of watching parents being treated as if they are a huge embarassment, and belong in home for the bewildered. They probably long to tell some parents they belong in home for the bewildered!!

Yellowtip Thu 11-Oct-12 18:49:18

Mordion if you know a decent local Home for the Bewildered do please PM me. My DC have long been making their plans .... (including threatening to cut off my buzzer to the HftB nurses unless I comply a bit more).

Sympathique Thu 11-Oct-12 18:49:30

Mmm, I really shouldn't derail the thread, but that does smell of 'them and us'. A lot of teachers are parents too and will themselves be in the parent-teenager relations minefield. And some parents are actually quite grown up good at coping with their growing children, and listen to them and respect their views. Of course, you are probably be referring only to the ones (few/many, I'll agree to differ) that aren't. I'd forgotten the power of being able to embarrass them - the only weapon parents of teenagers have!

Yellowtip Thu 11-Oct-12 18:54:26

It's happening all over Sympathique, the de-railing of threads smile (especially ones featuring Pissheads and Tumultuous Sex ).

Sympathique Thu 11-Oct-12 19:03:33

Really? Ooh cripes, I think I'd better hide on here shock

MordionAgenos Thu 11-Oct-12 19:09:23

@yellow It's not me, guv. The big girls did it. and ran away.

MordionAgenos Thu 11-Oct-12 19:12:01

anyway I don't think this thread has been derailed at all I think we are making very valuable points from a position of some knowledge (obviously you have far better ad more current knowledge than I do).

cinnamonnut Thu 11-Oct-12 19:22:56

Getting so impatient, I want an offer!

I know it'll be a while but I can't help but hope blush

Copthallresident Thu 11-Oct-12 19:24:35

I think we are into the territory of misunderstandings again, I was being facetious, I am sorry. I don't see it as two bipolar worlds at all. My mentor as a parent is teacher and fellow parent of a teen, she frequently gives me the backbone to act on my instincts. However I do empathise with what they sometimes have to deal with. I know you have not seen it at your school but at DDs' primary it all seemed such a wonderful positive community until a friend became the receptionist there and discovered the dark side.... It did feel that when DD1 started school that there was a conspiracy between teachers and pupils to keep parents out. I thought that was healthy, that it was their world, not mine, their own community they could be proud of and which would enable them to be exposed to different influences and develop their individuality. A lot of parents had their noses out of joint about it, and have been trying to stick them in ever since, and the worst, is a teacher!

wordfactory Thu 11-Oct-12 19:24:57

Not remotely derailing. I could listen to yellow yap about universities all day grin....does that make me sad?

Copthallresident Thu 11-Oct-12 19:26:20

cinnamonnut I might be able to arrange it if you fancy a change of direction, we do do Law but as with everything else we do it is not Law as you know it

Sympathique Thu 11-Oct-12 20:19:58

Copthall Sorry I'm very dim and didn't pick up the humour! RE: "It did feel that when DD1 started school that there was a conspiracy between teachers and pupils to keep parents out. I thought that was healthy, that it was their world, not mine, their own community they could be proud of and which would enable them to be exposed to different influences and develop their individuality. A lot of parents had their noses out of joint about it..."

You have caught me: I would probably have been in the hacked off camp! 5 years' old, for goodness sake. That said, DCs' primary kept parents at a distance and I was happy, so maybe not; but the head was v approachable - tho' on reflection that was very clever strategy. Maybe we all need that forced separation treatment. Only other thing (!) I'd say is that if DCs get the idea of it being right to exclude/ignore parents at that age, it means they're kicking at their first authority figures at a very young age - how does that bode for future attitudes to authority? It's a preciously short time that DCs look up to all adults. All too soon one is faced with trying to explain some piece of outrageous adult behaviour to them without criticizing the adult. At other end of school attitude, one of DCs' secondary schools was very inclusive of parents and saw it as a 3-way partnership. Lines were clearly drawn (one never went in unless invited and complaints little Esmerelda was not being appreciated for her genius not appreciated) but their attitude helped to preserve DCs respect for parents as adults and not just a nuisance. I think it's quite an unusual attitude in a school, and perhaps that's significant.

funnyperson Thu 11-Oct-12 20:39:25

copthall we watch 'Love Actually' every Christmas and watched it twice in ucas year. DD put it on when her new Oxford friends slept over crammed into the old playroom and none of the boys had seen it!

cinnamonnut a very nice boy came to do the 'law talk' at DS school, he said he was given some problems to discuss at the interview; there was no right or wrong answer apparently, they were looking for someone who could see more than one side to the issues.

One of the difficulties about being from an ethnic minority btw is that the default assumption from all parties, including one's own DC , who have the concept of the tiger asian mum fed into them on all sides by the media, is that one must be a helicopter or a tiger mum. The problem is that culturally I find it impossible to not speak to my dc at least every other day, and at least once a week I will mutter something on the lines of 'good, better, best: never let them rest.... etc'. Luckily both of them have failed at something or another at least once so they know I stick by them whatever.

funnyperson Thu 11-Oct-12 20:49:31

PS I like hearing that there is a wonderful buzz around science. I think this is true for me but its so lovely to hear someone else saying it is true for the student body.

Yellowtip Thu 11-Oct-12 20:58:34

'Yap'? Well yes I suppose fair comment sad Thanks word.

cinnamonnut it's October 11th! Chin up. Have you done the LNAT yet? I'm guessing from your apps that you've got lots of A*s. So possibly Durham too will wing in along with Exeter with a nice early offer. It takes a few days for your app to get through the admin at UCAS in any event. Fab new build of a Law Dept in Durham: a very very good fall back to Oxford with a good deal less stress!

funnyperson Thu 11-Oct-12 20:59:10

Mine sometimes accuse me of wanting to go to university btw. 'Hands off my modules, they're mine, I want to choose what i'm interested in , not what you think is best' , type of thing when I run my nosy eyes down the module list and point out ones I think look really interesting.

But I don't. I have had my time and enjoyed it thoroughly. I think there is more pressure on these young ones: higher debts, higher grades to get, fewer jobs, more bewildered relatives surviving to peer over their shoulders. Internet meaning there is less privacy about how their peers live their lives.

Equally, though the opportunities for research, even in the humanities, are amazing due to the internet, and the whole world of libraries and sources are suddenly at their fingertips.

Yellowtip Thu 11-Oct-12 21:11:26

funny when my littlest is off I'm either going to try to go back to university to do the degree I wish I'd done at the outset or I'm going to live on my pretty Scottish island. I'm still completely in two minds as to which. I need to be accessible to the GDC (for my own indulgence obv., not theirs - I'll most likely annoy them by yapping). Not sure which option would facilitate that most. I've some years yet to decide.

MordionAgenos Thu 11-Oct-12 21:18:51

I've just sent the last hour imessaging with DD1 in competition with CH DS and Dd2 who were all imessaging her too at the same time as watching merlin and discussing it. Dd1 is in Dunkirk on a school trip (complete waste of time and money as far as I'm concerned but there you go I wasn't required to approve it merely pay for it). So anyway, I can understand the constant contact thing - I'm very techy myself, and the thought of not being in as a minimum daily text/iMessage/twitter contact with my kids, husband and a few select friends would be very hard. On the other hand I can't imagine ever being consulted on module choices. I do sometimes get consulted on repertoire issues but that's because I've got lots of stuff anyway and because of my deep knowledge of showtunes for the singing stuff. But that's it - I'm not sure whether my opinions would be unwelcome but they are certainly not needed.

I also understand about erroneous public perceptions stemming from heritage. sad

Yellowtip Thu 11-Oct-12 21:27:15

DD1 had very few choices but DD2 sends me her lists and says what do you think? Which I love. DS1 has just phoned I think to say he's happy and ok but left me feeling I should have phoned him first - I do try very hard to be hands off.

Glad to hear they got to France! Its a good trip, really.

cinnamonnut Thu 11-Oct-12 21:35:00

Yellowtip I know, I know, but people are already getting offers grin

I did my LNAT last Monday and it went okay. Durham tends to be quite late with offers, but Exeter has been fairly early in previous years so I'm hoping I'll get at least one before this year ends. I saw the lovely new building at Durham a couple of weeks ago smile

Yellowtip Thu 11-Oct-12 21:41:15

Quite bolstering to go to the interview with a decent offer under your belt cinnamonnut, but lots don't. What's your order of preference?

funnyperson Thu 11-Oct-12 21:41:51

yellowtip it will probably be possible, when the time comes, to do that degree whilst living on the Scottish island.
Is your Scottish island real? Xenia also has one.

Mine wouldn't dream of consulting me on module choices. I get shown/told the list in freshers week: I gabble excitedly about some of them, then they do the ones I ignored. Well actually I don't know what modules they do because they don't tell me in case I interfere. It's no use me trying to find out by saying I'll buy the books. The DC keep firm boundaries. Its their degree, they say, not mine. I find out ultimately when they ring me up to say they got a nice comment from the tutor and would I like to be emailed a copy of their fantastic essay with tutors comments.Then I have to pretend I read it. Though now I'm an old hand and I say I read it and it was totally above my head and how amazing they are and well taught etc and how happy I am they are doing stuff I can't understand. I also keep dates of terrible family events with documentation showing independent verification in a separate file for if/when mitigating circumstances need to be applied for. By 'terrible events' I mean muggings and heart attacks and so forth.

funnyperson Thu 11-Oct-12 21:44:14

cinnamonnut some hear early and some don't. If you don't hear early this could be a good sign as it means computer has not said no.

cinnamonnut Thu 11-Oct-12 21:55:31

yellowtip It's Oxford, Durham, Bristol, Nottingham and Exeter, although I haven't really decided a particular order of preference for the last three.

Yellowtip Thu 11-Oct-12 21:58:41

My Scottish island is very real but I don't own any of it - yet. My mother's side of the family have summered there for well over a hundred years, it's beautiful.

I'm hugely impressed by the tragedy file. We've very prone to tragedy, but I've never previously thought to file it. Not too many muggings down here but lots of scope for tractor accidents and badger savaging I'm sure. I should get on to it really.

Yellowtip Thu 11-Oct-12 22:09:43

Good order then at least for one and two cinnamonnut smile Your list is almost identical to DD1's and DD3's with the exception of Exeter. They had virually identical GCSE grades, identical AS grades and predictions and LNAT but DD3 got a November offer from Durham and DD1 had to wait until Feb. Don't lose hope is the main thing, as funny says. These things can move in mysterious ways.

Are you rash enough to say which college at Oxford?

Copthallresident Thu 11-Oct-12 22:12:42

sympathetique aargh! done it again. Sorry, result of multi tasking. I meant when they started secondary school!

Couldn't have been more inclusive in Primary, their school was actually run by the parents and teachers, as in set up, owned, run and governed by the parents and teachers. Mostly it was a fantastic partnership and it was all the more disillusioning to discover when my friend became a Receptionist that as I posted before some parents went to the dark side. My involvement always provoked a mixture of embarassment and pride in DD, but her friends (and teachers ) are all still in touch, Facebook friends! and I totally agree with you about adult role models and relationships. However I did appreciate that come 11 it was perfectly legitimate to move to arms length. Her primary now has a secondary, not sure how they are handling the parental involvement, probably as your DCs school. The Head always was good at drawing the lines.

funny person BIG problem for me! I beat her going back to uni but the place to have done my thesis would have been her uni. She is a Scientist, I am not, but still I think it unacceptable to pop up in her friends' department , at 18 it should definitely be their space. So I have a very periapatetic PhD, wondering from Institution to Institution to assemble what I would have got in one place! I really could not disapprove more of a teacher I know of who has actually bought a house in Oxford to be near her DD because she misses her so much shock.

funnyperson Thu 11-Oct-12 22:13:18

Betelguese disabilities such as dyslexia/dyspraxia/autism/long term illness should be mentioned on the UCAS form then they count as a 'flag' for the student who has overcome adversity to achieve. Many students/parents might be too shy to put it on the UCAS form.

Then when the student is admitted, the university student learning support unit should be involved at the outset.

I agree with you on your other thread that access to education e.g by scribes/extra time at interviews or in seminars, and to be able to demonstrate academic ability by using scribes/extra time/dictating machines etc in exams is really important to ensure equality. There is some interesting Cambridge admissions info on students with a disability. They achieve as well as those without. Presumably Cambridge has a learning support unit.

funnyperson Thu 11-Oct-12 22:19:52

yellow there is badger savaging. There is penguin malaria. All sorts of disasters can happen. But the independent verification and dates are crucial.

Yellowtip Thu 11-Oct-12 22:21:02

That's appalling Copthall (the house thing), it absolutely is their space.

MordionAgenos Thu 11-Oct-12 22:25:35

It's an EXPENSIVE trip, certainly. grin But it's the first time she's been abroad. She now knows that I'm not joking when I give my considered assessments of all these places I visit.

cinnamonnut Thu 11-Oct-12 22:26:15

Yellowtip I don't think I'll tell you the college, don't want to give too much away grin

Yellowtip Thu 11-Oct-12 22:27:49

No penguins funny but we do have a few seals. Not obviously malarian though - they looked quite chipper last time I looked (there's a seal lover who sets up binoculars-on-a-pole by the beachuts and asks if people want a look - seems mean to say no). Badgers galore though and Finals # 2 coming up ....

Yellowtip Thu 11-Oct-12 22:32:50

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Copthallresident Thu 11-Oct-12 22:34:41

Just to reinforce what funnyperson has said. The universities entirely understand the strengths and weaknesses of those with SLDs and autism, and how people who have overcome illness have shown greater motivation. It isn't just flags to help level the playing field for admissions, people with SLDs often come into their own at the higher level (providing they get the right support as soon as possible ). We want diversity on our courses so you get the benefit of different perspectives, and different thinking. Helicopter thinking is a good thing, helicopter parenting is not.

Betelguese Thu 11-Oct-12 23:05:57

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Betelguese Thu 11-Oct-12 23:50:14

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

cinnamonnut Sat 13-Oct-12 13:07:02

Yellowtip Not Magdalen college no grin

funnyperson Wed 31-Oct-12 03:03:24

Is the purple haired person your DD yellow? How is she enjoying not being a first year?

harbingerofdoom Fri 02-Nov-12 19:19:34

Copthallresident Your DD isn't at Oxford reading Chemistry? See post no 2 on this thread.
Only just got round to catching up blush.

Copthallresident Sat 03-Nov-12 11:56:46

harbingerofdoom No. She plans to become a millionaire making designer babies, thankfully her course covers ethics smile

dolcelatte Sun 11-Nov-12 04:13:55

Just wondering if anybody's DC took the ELAT last week and what they thought of it?

sieglinde Tue 13-Nov-12 11:30:53

Yes, dolce - I know all OPx admissions lean more and more on the AT tests. Anyone here whose dc took the PAT last week? DS said they changed it a LOT from the sample papers on the web, the little dears. sad

sieglinde Tue 13-Nov-12 11:31:18

OX admissions. Sorry - have the new flu.

sieglinde Fri 30-Nov-12 10:33:07

Hi, all; anyone heard yet? I know several modern languages and classics people with interviews, but ds applied for physics and philosophy, and he has heard nothing. They are virtually last on the schedule, though. sad

He has offers from Lancaster and Durham, and an interview at Imperial. No rejections yet - his other choice is St Andrews, and they are s-l-o-w.

sieglinde Fri 30-Nov-12 17:59:46

Just in case anyone else is waiting, he has an interview. smile

funnyperson Sat 01-Dec-12 06:40:27

Hello sieglinde just dropped by after a while to nosey and read that your DS has an interview! Excellent news! Good luck. Remind him to take his mobile phone and charger and to keep it charged. Remember to give him loads of moral support after interview 1 to keep the momentum going for interview 2. If interview 1 hasn't gone well they get a bit low.

Consider ringing the faculty after interview 2 to discuss interview 3 and 4 if not immediately offered (I didn't do this last for my DS till it was all too late and found out afterwards that another college had been considering him cos he had 'passed' his faculty interview but they cant interview when the interview period is over so its best to make noises now and never never be a shy mum at this stage like I was) as there might have been a college tutor he clicked with when looking round.

Lots and lots of good luck what a wonderful time of life this is.

funnyperson Sat 01-Dec-12 07:01:40

Oh dear I have just re read my post. Six line sentence. What I mean is great news and good luck. What do you think about my ringing the faculty idea?

Oh yes I forgot to say that interview practice can help. I rang my DS's headmaster and asked him to give DD a practice interview and he did and it was very funny because he asked her if she knew who Julian Assange was, which ( to my shame) she didnt but of course in the real thing she didnt get asked any current affairs at all. Just stuff to look at and work though. The practice gave her confidence though because it helped her get used to the idea of thinking on her feet when asked something unexpected. I must say she made light of it but when she showed me what she had been given in the real thing my jaw dropped. Anyway she said that one or two questions were things she had come across in her summer reading and the books on the freshers reading list for her subject so the stuff she was given wasn't all unfamiliar in the end.

But there are obvious questions eg my DS got asked how the study of economics could contribute to the study of history but because I had said he might get asked it he hadn't prepared it because I am his mum so thats why its a good idea to ask friends to help with practice interviews. I know being on the other side for a humanities subject you might think that preparation might make no difference but trust me it does.

sieglinde Sat 01-Dec-12 09:01:13

Hi, funnyperson! What lovely posts. Thanks; your support means a lot.

He's applied for physics and philosophy, so he will have interviews in both subjects, probably lots of them. Physics has a reallocation system, and also a second interview system, much more robust than those in my subject. I will certainly try to be a proactive mum, though faculties vary so hideously that I think your advice would def. not work in my subject but might be gold dust in others.

And I agree about others doing interview practice! I've told him to look at the freshers' reading again.. good to be reminded of that.

What makes it complicated is that a. he has an interview at Imperial the day before b. he is still doing US applications, and has already had an interview for Harvard. Eek. The interviewer said he'd recommend him strongly, though that only counts for 6% in the Ivies, but it's given him some confidence. However, it was a fireside chat - actually, it was 2 hours in an Austrian cafe in Camden, but you see my point.

He's at an FE college, and they are beside themselves trying to help him... but I don't think they have much Ox interview experience... He has had a Physics D Phil guy tutoring him who has given him some interview practice - it's the philosophy that worries me.

Once again, huge thanks for your help!

gelo Sat 01-Dec-12 11:54:58

Good luck to him sieglinde. The interviews can be very daunting but rewarding too in a way. I hope he enjoys them as far as is possible. My ds is staying up to help marshal the interviewees and calm their nerves this year, so may run into him (though obviously wouldn't know if he did).

Betelguese Sat 01-Dec-12 11:59:21

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Yellowtip Sat 01-Dec-12 12:27:15

Just spotted the interview call up sieglinde. If someone who sounds as utterly off the scale as your DS doesn't get in I'm happy to eat my hat. It's a pretty new one too. He'll be just fine. You know what they have to do: not pose and be themselves. Very, very good luck to him anyway; Physics and Philosophy - what a scary combo.... At least you'll be there to provide post interview coffee and cake smile Would he prefer Harvard do you think, or Oxford? I don't suppose you can say without tempting fate!

My second year is helping right through the two weeks too.

sieglinde Sat 01-Dec-12 12:39:24

Waves eagerly to Gelo (love that name, btw), Betel, and Yellowtip. Thanks to all. I'm just as terrified as you all were. I probably know all too well how it can go wrong. sad

Yes, Betel, we hired him someone to take him a bit beyond the A-level stuff to prep for the PAT. Quite a mini-industry hereabouts, and it's good for the penniless graduates as well. He's thoroughly enjoyed his sessions; for a while the FE college laid on some u/g sessions with an engineering guy at Wadham, too. Your ds is amazing, Betel; I've always thought so.

Yellow, thing is he can be as pigheaded as a MULE and as silly as a two-cent watch, but perhaps that's his mum talking.., or, as I hope, him talking to his mum.

I think tbh that either Ox or Harvard would do him, to address your question; it's a comfort that he has offers from Durham and Lancaster, and spent a really nice day there - Lancs, that is - last week. He's not a school snob at all, as his choice of the FE college shows, and he was quite taken with Lancaster, who also offer some money... smile

Lovely to hear your dcs are helping, Gelo and Yellow. If you message me, I might disclose his college choice, though of course that might change with reallocation and whatnot.

Betelguese Sat 01-Dec-12 16:03:33

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

mathanxiety Thu 06-Dec-12 05:30:46

For Pleaseandthankyou if you're still around... This is of course an informal ranking. Shows there is more than just MIT to consider for engineering if your DS decides to look at engineering in the US though.

Pleaseandthankyou Thu 06-Dec-12 11:10:53

Mathanxiety Thankyou for that. My DS has just had an offer with a year at a US university so that was great timing. He has been to an offer day at Bath and loved it. He also had an Oxbridge interview but isn't worried about the outcome. I think he'll be off to Bath next year (provided he makes the offer). I'm relieved he has something which really suits him. He may still change his mind. California looks very tempting, especially today. I assume the loan systems works the same for the year abroad. If he looks like changing his mind I will investigate fully.

mathanxiety Thu 06-Dec-12 15:22:27

Look into the loan bit -- spending a year in a US university would be a fantastic opportunity but costs can be high and normally include on-campus room and smorgas board which is actually a bargain compared to what you would pay for private accommodation and trying to provide your own food would be a nightmare both in terms of money and time. Engineering schools work their students very hard.

Ask the US institution about financial aid for students spending the year abroad. All US universities have very busy financial aid offics and generate masses of paperwork for parents and students. You may need to look into what is available from the US side and there are deadlines.

funnyperson Sun 16-Dec-12 20:34:55

How was the interview experience then? Do give us feedback and details. I do think the whole applying for Oxford/Cambridge thing is a bit like tales of derring do -one has to have courage and there are challenges and the outcome is by no means certain and there are casualties and survivors.

Norem Sat 05-Jan-13 18:05:00

Anyone's dc heard yet? My ds got pooled from trinity for maths, he is ok about it. Thought he would be down as he got an offer last year but messed up his STEP exam. We now have to wait a few more weeks to see if he gets picked, I don't know if my nerves will take it smile

duchesse Sun 06-Jan-13 22:49:38

DD1 was turned down flatly by Cambridge for medicine (letter came in Friday's post). Unsure really how to proceed. She is absolutely convinced now that all the other universities will turn her down as well.

alreadytaken Sun 06-Jan-13 23:20:52

sorry to hear that, duchesse -- how was her BMAT? Other universities don't have access to the same information as Cambridge and they don't necessarily look for the same things. Each medical school has its own way of selecting - some value academics very highly, others will want certain academic standards but will place more reliance than Cambridge on personal qualities. It's very rare for applicants to get a full set of offers because schools differ but for the same reason a rejection from one doesn't mean rejection from all.

duchesse Sun 06-Jan-13 23:42:22

From what she said, not brilliantly. She hasn't told me her exact score but I know that she got over 600 on the UKCAT (but again I don't know exactly how much- she pushes herself a lot and I don't do anything whatsoever to put any more pressure on her so I haven't enquired --much only a couple of times--) while her friend got over 800 and consequently she feels that she did rubbishly. What I'm most anxious about (but not mentioning to her) is whether medicine is really right for her. I have started a separate thread on the FE topic about this.

duchesse Mon 07-Jan-13 00:06:05

"not brilliantly" as in "averagely".

alreadytaken Mon 07-Jan-13 08:38:22

medical schools have been moving away from UKCAT because it's an exam with little obvious relevance to medicine. The new questions tried this year may mean its more use in future. The BMAT is better but its designed for very able applicants, an average score is still respectable. Off to the other thread.

annaspanner123 Tue 15-Oct-13 21:34:10

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