Oxbridge without an interview - is it possible?(30 Posts)
The thread on Oxbridge applications started me thinking and as I couldn't find the answer on the either uni website, I though I would ask here. This is just out of curiosity mind.
Two of my DC are ASD, and whilst they are really good at maths/sciences they would be highly unlikely to be able to convey this in an interview. They struggle with new places/new people and they take a long time to feel confident with answering direct questions and giving opinions with new teachers (weeks rather than hours). Neither are in sixth form yet, so not old enough to make clear plans about university attendance, but for DC like them, what is or isn't done?
Whilst clearly all universities have to make reasonable adjustments, and both of them mention doing so within the interviewing process, does anyone know if they have/will ever offer alternatives to the interview itself?
I'm an admissions tutor at Oxbridge and I'd say declare the disability and perhaps contact the college/Faculty.
Interviews are given special training so that they are aware of ASD and similar issues (because we get a high number of applicants like this) and how to manage it. eg for some they can come and see the interview room beforehand I think if it will help them.
Also as I think people said, ASD is relatively common here (relative to everywhere else anyway) so it is something people are fairly aware of.
A girls I know found the interview so stressful she was in tears for most of it (not ASD). She still got in, because she struggled on and they were impressed by her courage and the fact that her answers were good despite her distress.
OP, I did maths at Cambridge. I would say that a non-trivial proportion of my fellow mathmos were 'on the spectrum' - at a time when this was less well understood than it is now. Similarly with the lecturers, tbh. I think every allowance would be made for your DCs to give them the opportunity to demonstrate that they would benefit from being at Cambridge. I don't have any experience of Oxford but I bet it's similar in this respect.
It is good to know what is possible, and I'll bear it mind when we get to that stage.
As Holofernes says, the thing to do is to phone the Disability Resource Centre or similar. You might also want to talk to them about broader concerns - if your DC will take a few weeks to settle down to University life, I wondered whether they might find the short (8 week) terms at Oxbridge rather unsettling?
creamteas One of DDs peers who is ASD is at Cambridge doing Engineering. She was terrible at new places/new people, a tendancy up to 11 to hide in the nearest cupboard / wardrobe when it got too much. We always did say that she would be fine in university because we had known / been taught by similar, what were then known as, eccentrics. She was desperate to go and so was determined to do the interview but as with all her attempts at social interaction she rushed in, but soon became panicy and stressed and asked to leave because she had such a severe headache. One wonders what the point of putting her through that was, it was a very predictable outcome, but she got in. I obviously have no access to the decision making process but she has thrived.
Just to add that my tutes varied wildly, from gladiatorial fight to the death, to cosy coffee in the SCR. It's not that scary really!
Why not have a look at the Disability Advisory Service for both? It's definitely worth a phone call. Think also about the college; some colleges might suit your dc better than others, so choose carefully and check out which have good levels of support. Also, in every faculty there is a disability officer who may be involved in admissions; again, worth finding out who the disability officer of the relevant faculty / dept is, and sending them an email. I'd definitely declare; it'd be in their favour without doubt.
I know, but whilst lots of people I knew at Oxford were on the spectrum (very few diagnosed but it was a while ago); they on the whole did not have issues with expressing their opinions. And whilst from the outside the tutorial system can seem better, it can be quite a harsh environment for any student.
I have known lots of disabled students at Oxbridge, and they have had considerable modifications made for them. It also might be a better place to be as a graduate student.
However if it fundamentally involves a style of teaching which will not suit, then there are other places which offer a different experience. You wouldn't recommend that someone who cannot cope with loud noises should attend RADA, I assume?
But if you have real questions I would approach the University and get a lot of specific advice on colleges, and also try to get some insider advice, as the official spin is not always the same as the day to day experience.
Mummytime There are often very specific challenges that people with ASD face which are unlikely to change in 2 years, it's not just about maturing and as parents of children with AS you get used to thinking ahead and trying to come up with coping stategies. The changes you speak of may happen but are likely to take a lifetime!
Dystopian I would always say declare the disability. If you declare then this can be considered alongside the application and ensure the admissions tutor has the whole picture.
Declaring a disability will only disadvantage applicants if the uni is being discriminatory, and if they are going to act in that way, it is probably best that students with disability don't go there!
BTW at my uni we can arrange lots of transition work if the student would find it helpful. If they are taking a gap year, this can include attending classes/staying on campus for short periods to allow them to adjust. Once at uni the disabled students allowance can include a learning mentor which, depending on need, can pay for as much as 1:1 support in all classes.
Mummytime I think it must depend on the subject, because that wasn't my experience at all. For physics, the termly collections were written exams. Tutorials were challenging but not stressful (unless you were trying to pretend you'd done the work but hadn't!). Physics tutorials were sometimes one-on-one and sometimes in small groups, and they were about working through difficult questions with the tutor, bouncing ideas off each other, or discussing the more tricky/interesting parts of the lecture course.
mummytime given you have never met my DC, why do you think my children couldn't cope? They cope very well with academic pressure when they have got used to the place/people.
All universities have to make reasonable adjustment to exams and that can include switching assessment method (oral/written, exam/coursework) unless there is an exceptional reason not to (eg languages).
Or do you just think that people with disabilities should have their lives limited by inflexible rules just for the sake of them.
Oh and I'm with creamteas about the smaller, more intimate environment compared to huge campus'. I worked in Oxford for 7 years and my DH was at both Oxford and Cambridge so we are familiar with the smaller setup.My DD would feel very intimidated with something larger too.
creamteas have you been to either Oxford or Cambridge? Because if you really doubt your children could cope with an interview, I agree they probably couldn't cope with the system at either University. Tutorials are not just cosy chats with a Professor once a week, they can be quite pressurised events. In addition there are collections (at Oxford), which are oral examinations held once a term. Mine as a graduate were less in depth and held just once a year, but with the college President.
However the other thing to remember is that your children I believe are not in Sixth form yet, and may well change as they mature.
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