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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.

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.

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