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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.

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.

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