Apart from the "degree" what else does Oxford have to offer?

(32 Posts)
legallady Sat 22-Jun-13 23:19:22

That might sound like a daft question, but having just visited several Oxford colleges I'm starting to wonder what all the fuss is about.

DD wants to study modern languages and the course does appeal to her. However, several other universities also offer courses that would suit her down to the ground (Nottingham, Bath, Warwick to name just a few) but they all seem to offer so much more in the way of other opportunities. She is very keen to do extra curricular television clubs - both Nottingham and Warwick offer these - and she is also a keen dancer and many universities offer great opportunities both to continue her dancing and perform. Oxford doesn't seem to have any of these.

Am I missing something?

Are social activities/extra curricular at Oxford limited to what your college offers? If this is the case, isn't it very restrictive? The colleges we looked at seemed to have a JCR and that was about it.

I know having an Oxford degree is great and all that but do students have to sacrifice their other interests just to get one?

Both DH and I went to redbrick universities and had a great time . Maybe I'm biased, but I would appreciate any information on what it's really like at Oxford in terms of social life and extra curricular opportunities outside of your college.

funnyperson Sun 23-Jun-13 23:14:32

mummymastodon that is a very interesting article. OP I went to London in an age when it was very student friendly indeed (it is not so now, sadly, due to the expense of accommodation and entertainments: so called 'concession' prices at the theatre are a joke). I had a wonderful time. But observing DD has made me realise that Oxford really and truly is fantastic. Everything within walking or cycling distance, accommodation of good quality and affordable even in the years out, friends with every conceivable range of interests, all entertainments cheap and often free. No need for the drink culture of other universities because there is plenty to do, and when the sun shines (and often even when it doesn't) it is like a little heaven, it is so beautiful. The libraries are on site and well stocked.
Academically the tutorial system has to seriously be thought through by the applicant. It means that engagement with the subject and with the tutor is compulsory and inevitable. There is a lot of work to be done in between tutorials. Thus Oxford is not for the 'coaster' or even last-minute type of student, who would be most unhappy there, because it is awful to be rusticated, and some of DD's acquaintance have been rusticated when they fail exams.
As a parent I can say that Oxford is, if anything, underrated.

funnyperson Sun 23-Jun-13 23:22:08

What is also very nice though is that the students don't have to apologise for caring about their work. This is such a relief. In fact Oxford encourages students to be passionate about their subject and to take it to a higher level than just the lectures, and so there is no 'too cool for school' attitude which means that students can say 'I have an essay deadline' to their friends and they will not be laughed at.

alreadytaken Mon 24-Jun-13 08:52:21

funnyperson has obviously fallen in love with Oxford, it is a pretty place. But let's not get carried away, the short high-pressure terms and the tutorial system don't suit everyone. I thought the only exams that really count are the final year so that is for the last-minute type of student, may other universities give some credit for earlier (second year) exams.

Other universities will also have students who don't laugh at their friends if they have a deadline. They will also have clubs and societies. I know nothing about modern languages but the course flexibility and when you can go abroad mentioned earlier sound like important things to consider.

Warwick seems to be a marmite place students either love or hate when they visit. Bath has amazing sports facilities. Nottingham has high crime rates. Take a look at employment rates after the courses, student satisfaction rates and what the students go on to do. I suspect an Oxford degree might offer a few more opportunities but all the universities the OP mentioned have good reputations.

It depends on what your subject is whether other years count towards your final degree class. Certainly your college can insist in a good performance in non-final college ("collections") or university ("mods") exams in order to hold your place for the next year - DH had to do some resits to be allowed back one year too much rowing and beer and not enough lectures.

I agree that the system doesn't suit everyone. It is insanely intense for those eight weeks at a time and the constant deadlines are pressurising.

Another disadvantage of the collegiate system is that teaching provision varies between colleges - if you are at a rich college you get more teaching than if you are at a poor college.

For example, I went to an impoverished Cambridge college and in second year I had half the supervisions (1:1 or 1:2 classes) that my friends at certain richer colleges were offered as a matter of course. We had the same lectures and departmental contact, but the close college provision was vastly different.

This is why it matters which college you apply to, but it is almost impossible to find out unless you know people up already in your subject - part of the reason independent schools do well, because they tap up former pupils who are current students for the current lowdown. And the college that suits you socially might not be the best fit academically, or might be vastly oversubscribed in your year: if they take six linguists a year and in your year thirty-five apply, that's going to be a tough year.

funnyperson Wed 26-Jun-13 19:22:12

Yes sorry I realise I sounded a bit gushy-I was just trying to do the place justice. 2nd year exams do count for some degrees, as does lab work done from the 2nd year onwards.
Also, in relation to state school vs private school entry there seems a fairly even balance. In relation to ethnicity and/or being very left wing (or even communist shock) some colleges are better than others. Black security porters in a recent 'left wing' college ball photo still looked worlds and worlds away from the ball goers. So home has to be a place where the students can stay grounded. A place which is outside the Oxford bubble: friends with it, but not of it.

MariscallRoad Thu 27-Jun-13 11:49:45

Several universities offer good opportunities to participate in performance. My son at Oxford participated in a play which had good reviews and he enjoyed very much. He also went to College balls and liked it. He had joined outside the College several clubs. Your DC perhaps should explore what there is in universities. For example, Imperial has a good student orchestra which performs at Cadogan Hall with celebrity soloists. I presume you would first decide where you would like to study your subject. Regarding the ‘degree’, one needs to think that in the present economic circumstances the job market has changed, and you might look at the graduate employment stats in several universities. Having lecturers and professors who will help you with links after graduation is something to discuss at an open day.

Regarding graduate destinations and jobs, Oxford website here says that 52% of graduates got a job, 29% went on studying more, 8% had some job and study. The average starting salary was £25K ranging 10K to 45K. You may be able to find more about other universities.

Lilymaid Thu 27-Jun-13 16:02:45

Only know about Oxford as DH was there and I live near the other place. I would have thought that there are more opportunities to get involved in extra-curricular activities in Oxford than other universities (I've been a student at two universities and worked for four). There seem to be college clubs and university clubs for practically anything you could think of. Plenty of clubs at other universities too but perhaps slightly less "compulsion" to get involved.
Main questions for your DD to think about is where she would like to be for 3 years, whether she likes the courses, whether she likes the assessment/teaching system. Oxford will provide more tuition ... and essay requirements than other universities but lectures are not compulsory and not always linking into course.
DH enjoyed his time there but still rather envies my time at Exeter.

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