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Is 13 too young to think about Oxbridge?

(115 Posts)
lottieandmia Mon 27-Feb-17 12:45:52

My dd is a brilliant artist and I had thought that she would want to go to art college. But she's also turned out to be very academic and one of her teachers described her to me as 'brilliant' at the last parents evening.

i think that she might possibly be able to try for a place at Oxbridge and she's interested in the idea but I don't know much about the interview process. My best friend went to Magdalen - she said they ask unusual questions. It may be that it doesn't suit her but I thought it would be worth considering.

2014newme Mon 27-Feb-17 12:47:48

My nine year old talks about Oxford uni
Never too young to have ambition

Is it Oxford your dd is inteterested in?

Lolly49 Mon 27-Feb-17 14:39:35

My daughter is in second year at Oxford,started thinking about it from around 14 .We thought it would be impossible as she went to an ordinary state school but she proved everyone wrong.

FiveGoMadInDorset Mon 27-Feb-17 14:41:37

My DD has been telling everyone that she is going to read History at Oxford since she was 7

Newtssuitcase Mon 27-Feb-17 14:41:56

DS1 is 11 and has already decided that he will be looking at Oxford or Cambridge. We know lots of people who went to one or the other and so I suspect that has influenced him a bit but they also talk about it at school where they make a big song and dance about the high number of Oxbridge offers.

ImperialBlether Mon 27-Feb-17 14:46:01

The problem is that those who don't get in can end up not enjoying their university experience because they think it's second best. There are a number of really great universities - while Oxford and Cambridge are really good, so are many others.

EssentialHummus Mon 27-Feb-17 14:47:09

Not sure how useful my opinion is (foreigner, accepted to Oxford but didn't take up a place), but my two cents anyway:

It's not too young. Even if she changes her mind later, there is no harm in having strong academic aspirations.

Does she have a sense of what she may want to study? If so, I'd tentatively look at entry requirements, relevant A levels etc so you know you're on the right track.

Go visit! Have a day up there, go to an Evensong service, walk around the more scenic colleges, punt on the river - give her a taste of what it's like.

Beyond that, ask around/on here re the interview process, any extra-curriculars that she may want to do, and so on, so that over the next few years you're supporting her in that way.

wobblywonderwoman Mon 27-Feb-17 14:47:40

You know, it is good to have a dream ! Nuture it.

I do agree that there are many brilliant universities out there though.

mateysmum Mon 27-Feb-17 14:54:00

Certainly worth thinking about from now on, but without any pressure and keeping an open mind as the whether the Oxbridge course is the right one.

There is loads of info on courses and the interview process online.

Start here:


Also, please don't be put off by urban myths about Oxford snobbery and interview myths. Interviews are there to identify the right kind of mind, not whether you know which knife and fork to use. Unusual questions are only unusual because they seek to identify thinking skills and not the tick box learning so prevalent nowadays.

So many able state pupils are put off applying because "its not for them" " not for our kind of people". Maybe this was true 60 years ago, but not now.

Even if your DD changes her mind, no harm in having a good academic ambition. It will see her in good stead whatever her future holds.

mateysmum Mon 27-Feb-17 14:54:47

I'll try again with that link

mateysmum Mon 27-Feb-17 14:57:40

Also to add... At 13 she will soon be choosing GCSE options so a very good time to ensure that at least she does not rule out the Oxbridge subject she is interested in by making poor GCSE and more importantly A level choices,

Wigeon Mon 27-Feb-17 14:59:51

What exactly will you or she do differently aged 13 if you are "thinking of Oxbridge" compared to if you are "thinking of Manchester / Efinburgh/York/Durham"? Surely she should just get on with trying her best at school, you should continue supporting her and she should keep doing whatever she enjoys most outside school.

How does it make any difference to think about Oxbridge? Age 13 she should just be trying her best.

I went to Cambridge btw. But wasn't thinking at all about universities aged 13!

Ferrisday Mon 27-Feb-17 15:00:58

How do children this young know about Oxford/Cambridge? 7,9?

EssentialHummus Mon 27-Feb-17 15:05:31

ferris when I was a tutor I had a few 9/10 year olds quiz me about where I studied - they'd absorbed their parents' university anxiety wholesale. I had to convince one I was competent enough to teach 11+ maths as I only had an MSc from UCL.

I also have a few friends where (intentionally or not) they are drilling into their quite young DC that university = Oxbridge.

maxandmaxine Mon 27-Feb-17 15:05:41

At 8/9 I was dead certain I would be going to read Law at Clare (Cam). I was brought up in and around the university and most of my peers went to oxbridge.

NotCitrus Mon 27-Feb-17 15:06:57

Never too early to think about aspiring to a great university (or to mention that there are also other excellent universities in the UK, especially for certain subjects).
One reason I applied to Cambridge was because my teacher when I was 6 had told me off for messing about and said "if you don't learn, you won't be able to get into Oxford or Cambridge when the time comes!"

Dd is 4 and was well chuffed to be able to recently chip in to a conversation with my friends who were reminiscing about uni, and piped up "Well when I went to university..." - she'd been in a creche at a convention I was at, which happened to be in the room where science teachers were tutored, so lots of fab toys, 'doing science' and then sweets and cake from the convention - what's not to like?

Make sure your dd has 7-8 traditional academic GCSEs and then hope she gets excellent grades, and then chooses some A-levels that Oxbridge accept (generally traditional academic subjects), and let her do the rest. Note that Oxbridge try hard to enable anyone to take up a place offered and have more financial support than most places, shorter terms mean easier to get work in holidays - but their offerings aren't the only good degrees available.

Bluntness100 Mon 27-Feb-17 15:16:22

I'd also agree to focus on her GCSEs and a levels , my concern as a parent would be if she didn't get in, she may feel like she's failed and as such any other uni may lead to disappointment for her and issues later on as such at this stage I would not be pushing.

In due course you can understand what she wishes to study and what her study options are and help her understand what's best for her. However it should always be her choice, not yours.

From reading your post it seems this is your aspiration at this stage and not hers, and as much as we should guide our children and support them, I think it's a bit early to be telling her about oxbridge due to the potential for pressure that puts on her as well as potentially limiting her own life choices.

Setterlover Mon 27-Feb-17 15:23:19

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

cowgirlsareforever Mon 27-Feb-17 15:24:47

Ds1 has been thinking about it since he was aged 14 after a teacher wrote him a letter telling him how talented he is in his subject and how he should strive for Oxbridge.

user1487175389 Mon 27-Feb-17 15:25:42

Probably just the right age. Need to make sure she picks the right gcses to do the right a levels to get in.

ElinorRigby Mon 27-Feb-17 15:32:17

My daughter didn't think about Oxbridge until she was choosing A-level subjects and thinking about UCAS at the start of Year 13. (She ended up being offered a place.)

Her school was quite helpful re GCSE choices and how they might relate to plans for A-level study, and Higher Education options. I think any half-decent school should be able to do this.

It seems to me that being a good parent is more about being supportive in quite a broad way. So if a child is thinking ahead, then visiting various university towns and cities for days out might be a good idea. And just generally encouraging talents and interest

catslife Mon 27-Feb-17 15:51:34

In answer to the OP most "art colleges" are now universities and offer degrees in Art & Design.
I think it's possible to be both academic and good at Art BTW, I don't think that one excludes the other.

ErrolTheDragon Mon 27-Feb-17 15:54:42

Some of what may matter at Oxbridge is demonstrating a genuine interest in the subject beyond just schoolwork. This is something that really needs to be driven by the student, but of course it can't hurt to have supportive parents. My DD didn't seriously start considering Cambridge till near the end of yr 12 but she'd evidently been doing the right sort of things because she really wanted to not as a tickbox exercise iyswim.

'So many able state pupils are put off applying because "its not for them" " not for our kind of people". Maybe this was true 60 years ago, but not now. '

Just picking up on that... my dad went to oxford prewar, a scholarship lad. His dad started his working life as a farmhand, hired in the marketplace Hardy-style. Sod that 'our kind of people' crap!

TheLittlePaperbagPrincess Mon 27-Feb-17 15:57:51

Wigeon Efinburgh is spot on, hilarious.

NinonDeLanclos Mon 27-Feb-17 16:03:08

If you're in the state system, it's worth considering whether the school she's at will give her the right advice and adequate support when the time comes. (Some are notoriously poor at recommending Oxbridge for bright students). Otherwise you can park the subject until A levels.

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