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realistic grades for oxbridge?

(61 Posts)
exgov Fri 26-Oct-12 10:58:16

My DS has decided to have a try for Cambridge, but I'm just musing now about whether it's a good idea or not. He's likely to get 3 solid As at A level if present progress continues, possibly an A* (or even 2 if he really gets down to it, but I think that's less likely). So I'd say he's bright but not super-mega-bright - is that likely to be enough for Cambridge?

Plus I've just heard about a lad who's left Cambridge after 2 weeks because he didn't like it - and didn't really like it at interview, but felt obliged to take the offer, I guess. I find it really hard to work out if I feel my DS would cope with Cambridge if he did get in - I'm hoping the interviewers can work that out better than me! Is that a realistic thought?

Lilymaid Fri 26-Oct-12 11:01:56

Does he have a passionate interest in the subject he wishes to study?

PerryCombover Fri 26-Oct-12 11:07:24

His gcse's need to be excellent and he needs to really have a genuine interest in learning

exgov Fri 26-Oct-12 11:24:28

Lillymaid, Perry, I'd say yes, he's very interested in the subject (does extra stuff around it in his own time) and is keen to learn about it. He got 5A* and 7A for GCSE, if I recall correctly.

Lilymaid Fri 26-Oct-12 11:38:56

Does he go to a comprehensive/grammar/independent? Does his school regularly send students to Cambridge? Does he want to do a subject that is more competitive (you can see Cambridge admission statistics to work that out)?
His GCSEs are probably below the average of the average Cambridge student and 3 A Grades would also be below average, for what that is worth, so he needs something extra to make his application successful.

exgov Fri 26-Oct-12 12:01:08

It's a comprehensive, but a pretty good one. They get a handful into Oxbridge each year, not more. I wondered about the grades - I thought perhaps it was borderline. He's been equally keen about some of the other unis we've visited; I'm wondering how different the experience would be at Cambridge. I suppose all he can do is see if he gets an interview, and then really try to get a feel for the course. Thanks for the link, I'll have a look at that.

sieglinde Fri 26-Oct-12 13:29:51

exgov, if he doesn't want an ultracompetitive course (like medicine or law) he'd have a chance with those grades, but no more. He'd need to do well in any pre-tests to be shortlisted. FWIW, Oxford is less worried about marks as such.

That said, he should def. try if he likes the place. It gives you a fabulous start in life and it's a good in itself.

Cahoots Fri 26-Oct-12 13:50:27

I guess he is in year 12. He has plenty of time to work out whether Cambridge would suit him. You should look out for their taster courses and open days. There are lots of things available, not all of which are that well advertised. My DS attended a half day taster course with only about 15 other students and lots of empty seats.
He also has plenty of time to see how he gets on with his A levels. It seems a little early in the day to be predicting either A's or A stars. You will have a better idea after the January modules.
The term times are shorter and the students generally work harder at Cambridge. This may or may not suit your son.

fraktion Fri 26-Oct-12 14:00:33

I would encourage him to try. He doesn't have to take the place. I didn't and the sky didn't fall in! The best you can do is let him know you'd support him and that it is HIS decision either way. You may well be disappointed if he turns it down but try not to let him see that.

exgov Fri 26-Oct-12 14:24:30

Sorry, I'm perhaps being misleading - he's in y13, and has actually applied. The school encouraged him to have a go - I'm just pondering, really, wondering whether he actually has a chance. But he's got 4 other choices, so nothing to lose, really, and I imagine if the student fits in and can cope with the pace it's fabulous. We shall see! How soon do we hear whether he has an interview? It can't be too long, I take it, as they are held in early December.

Cahoots Fri 26-Oct-12 14:32:09

Ok, I understand now as you can see I am not Oxbridge material myself grin
I don't think it is a wasted choice at all and, whilst yourson'e GCSE's are not completely brilliant they are still excellent and there is a lot more to an application than just the GCSE results. I am sure your DS's school would not have supported his application if they did not think he had a chance. It is always a bit of a gamble though.
Hope things turn out ok for him, he still has plenty of time to see what happens and firm up what he wants.

exgov Fri 26-Oct-12 15:00:07

Thanks, cahoots. I don't really mind either way - and anyway it's his choice. I just want him to find somewhere where he'll be happy and work hard.

BlackandGold Fri 26-Oct-12 15:20:13

Don't worry. DS applied to Cambridge from an ordinary, local Comprehensive, went through the interviews and was offered a place.

He then decided he would prefer to go elsewhere so declined the offer!

I'm sure it all works out for the best in the end.

bachsingingmum Fri 26-Oct-12 15:34:02

If he loves his subject and wants to study it in real depth he should go for it. He should want to go there himself and not because his parents or teachers want him to. Don't worry about the drop out. I understand the drop out rate at Cambridge is the lowest of any university in the UK, something like 1.4% - the college system provides great support and pastoral care. My daughter is there and absolutely loves it despite the very hard work.

Yellowtip Fri 26-Oct-12 22:00:53

This all sounds a very sensible and healthy approach. Forget this stuff about 'passion'. At 17 or 18? Some very singular types perhaps, but I very much doubt that's the norm.

I asked a parent yesterday (making polite and mild conversation) whether their DD had taken the pre-test yet or not. I was nearly felled by the response: she's taken it yes, is determined to go to 'Oxbridge' to read Law come what may (her mother's old college) but has applied to the US for Business Studies as a very poor second best. Barely worth applying to the US because 'Oxbridge' is a foregone conclusion etc but good for the experience etc. And this is the eldest child.

I suppose supreme confidence is a good, but then what would I know?

MordionAgenos Sat 27-Oct-12 00:18:31

That sort of person scares me. Perhaps it's a Good Thing I rarely socialise with the other parents.

Betelguese Sat 27-Oct-12 09:41:32

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

sieglinde Sat 27-Oct-12 10:32:50

Well, Yellow, I feel sorry in advance for this woman's children. Whether of not they get in.

(And for their interviewers... bet Mummy will be on the phone if the college of choice is so benighted as to turn them down sad. I get one like this every year by phone, and latterly several by email - how could you turn down dd? Dd is amazing. It's an admin error, isn't it? NO, IT ISN'T!)

Betelguese Sat 27-Oct-12 11:13:22

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

sieglinde Sat 27-Oct-12 11:46:41

But we still have a lowish dropout rate, Betel.

Sometimes I actively urge flounderers to think of moving to another uni, and they most often absolutely refuse. (I had a woman a few years back who was so miserable she refused to leave her rooms..) I tell them - and it's true - that a degree from another Russell Group place will market almost as well, but they absolutely won't accept it. We kinda grapple them to us in hoops of ancientness, which is Not good. Again, Mum and Dad are sometimes the bad guys; mum would die of shame/rage/disappointment etc. Ack.

Betelguese Sat 27-Oct-12 12:44:51

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

sieglinde Sat 27-Oct-12 13:02:38

But Betel, not all that endowment money translates into a trouble-free experience for students. sad

I too don't know why it happens, because at my college and in my subject, it doesn't.

duchesse Sat 27-Oct-12 13:25:57

In my limited experience of Oxford my sister went there and Cambridge I went there, the pastoral system at Cambridge is infinitely superior. That said, probably 3 (quickly totting up ancient figures) of my year at college ) year group 120 dropped out- one within the first fortnight. She was a very young (17yo) medical student and completely freaked out straight away. I suspect her parents had made her take up her place.

Betelguese Sat 27-Oct-12 13:36:23

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

sieglinde Sat 27-Oct-12 14:17:32

Nobody said they didn't, Betel. I was just quarrelling with your notion that money for endowment equals good pastoral facilities. I think we are actually saying the smae thing... nope, it doesn't.

Not that I have much power, duchesse, but what exactly do Cambridge do that's so much better?

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