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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?

Almostfifty Fri 07-Dec-12 14:10:46

Just wondering if he got an interview OP?

socharlotte Sat 24-Nov-12 00:00:32

I think you need to be looking at being predicted at least A* A* A unless you are doing something very obscure and unpopular

Milliways Tue 30-Oct-12 21:02:22

Good Luck exgov. My DD graduated from there this year and loved it, and she too went from an ordinary comp. (She was also pooled but fished out in a day - but that is another drama!) She was her Colleges access officer so passionate about getting people from ordinary schools to apply.

Yellowtip Tue 30-Oct-12 19:03:39

exgov he's far, far more likely to have an interview at Cambridge than he would be were he applying to Oxford (slightly depending on subject). So he's got that extra shot at showing what he's got to the people making decisions, which doesn't apply to Durham, UCL, Bristol etc. With his particular GCSE grades that increased likelihood of an interview may well help.

exgov Tue 30-Oct-12 16:48:28

Many thanks for all the advice, even if it got a little derailed! It's over 3 hours by train from here, so I'm hoping if he gets an interview he can stay overnight and get a real feel for the place. Depends what time and how long they'd want him. Larrygrylls, that's how I felt - why not have a go at one of the best unis in the world. I'm pleased that in general you think he'd cope without super-mega grades as long as he's got a passion for the subject and is willing to work - both of which apply, from what I can see.

Musomathsci Tue 30-Oct-12 09:58:25

Just wanted to say good luck to your DS. You probably won't hear about interviews until about 3 weeks before, so don't hold your breath. My DS is there and loves it. Pain in the arse to travel to and from, depending where you live, but the terms are short so long holidays (generally filled with lots more work from what I have seen!)

larrygrylls Tue 30-Oct-12 09:49:31


Why on earth should he not apply to one of the best unis in the world if he has even a small chance of getting in? I don't think the drop out rate at Cambridge is higher than most unis, in fact I believe the reverse. And the experience he will have there, the friends (and network) he will make plus the degree itself will all stand him in good stead for the rest of his life.

I went to Cambridge and absolutely loved it. It was a true cross-section of people from all walks of society; good brains the only thing they had in common. And, of course there were a fair few brilliant people. The majority, however, were just very bright people who genuinely enjoyed their subjects.

Yellowtip Tue 30-Oct-12 09:41:55

Many apologies CollieDog I misread your post (thought you wrote ^they may as well do it^).

I'd been in Oxford all day and one of the DC told me about another student friend I know who's having real problems, so the imagined wording hit a nerve.

Yellowtip Mon 29-Oct-12 23:09:48

That's very harsh CollieDog. And I'd like to think not true.

slhilly Mon 29-Oct-12 13:54:05

Hi exgov. I went to Cambridge (20 years ago, mind you - bloody hell, when did that happen?!)

I'd say your son is in with a perfectly reasonable chance, given his grades so far. You have to be bright, you don't have to be super-mega-bright. But you do have to be interested in your subject, and you do have to have a definite view on the world, which you are able to advocate in a challenging discussion. (Or at least, you did when I was there, and I doubt this has changed very much.)

When I applied, I had had a chance to have quite a good look round the colleges, having gone up for a visit, and the application process itself was a really helpful opportunity to get the feel of the place. I enjoyed it greatly - the learning, the friends I made, and above all the college life - close-knit friendships in a town you can walk and cycle around really easily. It was a gentle and happy time.

There are quite a few videos you can watch that give you a sense of the application process:,mod%3D0&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&tab=w1&gl=GB

sieglinde Mon 29-Oct-12 13:40:08

Yes, I agree, LRD. Op, don't be put off by all this. Oxbridge collectively devotes more bucks ot student welfare than most.

TheCollieDog Sun 28-Oct-12 22:46:49

Whilst all universities have clear policies on welfare, the extent to which they are effective depends very much on individuals

And let's be sure to include students in that. They have to want to be helped. They have to turn up, they have to ask for help, they have to make changes to help themselves. They have to take the anti-d's, or stop drinking, or whatever.

And frankly, if someone is going to commit suicide, they may well do it, whatever the interventions made. That is not an easy thing to accept or understand, but it is a necessary thing to realise.

LRDtheFeministDragon Sun 28-Oct-12 21:46:00

A 'DSA' is a 'disabled students' allowance'. A student may be deemed to have a disability.

But that student still needs to be proactive. The college or university has responsibilities, but so does the student.

I think you're derailing this thread - what does it have to do with the OP?

Betelguese Sun 28-Oct-12 21:41:38

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

LRDtheFeministDragon Sun 28-Oct-12 21:38:47

betel, you started a thread about this before and everyone disagreed with you then.

A student at university is an adult. To say 'nothing is left to the willingness of the student' is simply not true. Students are adults and have responsibilities.

I don't think it has any bearing on whether or not the OP's son will like Oxbridge or somewhere else better - anywhere he goes, he will be expected to take responsibility for his own learning. It is normal.

Betelguese Sun 28-Oct-12 21:35:31

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

LRDtheFeministDragon Sun 28-Oct-12 21:09:36

I think most colleges do the exam during the interview process.

Not sure if all do, but I think it's the norm.

Betelguese Sun 28-Oct-12 21:04:49

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

LRDtheFeministDragon Sun 28-Oct-12 20:51:20

I think maybe see how he feels after the interview? He will get to meet people and will probably have a feeling one way or the other. I have lived in and around one or other university for most of the last ten years, and it's really strange how you can just see some interviewees who are walking around ten foot in the air, loving it ... and others who look so miserable.

Maybe he could have a think about questions he has for the interviewers - they'd need to be brief and relevant but I bet they would love a genuinely interested question. Then he could use that to help decide.

Re. pastoral care: people talk a lot of rubbish about Oxbridge pastoral care, and yes, students need to be proactive and sometimes get surprised they can't rely on mum and dad. But I get the impression that (unless you hit a remarkably corrupt/wankerish individual as a tutor, which could happen anywhere), it is just a matter of what suits you. If you like lots of close personal contact with the people who're teaching you, Oxbridge works well. If you are more independent and like hearing plenty from your fellow students, you might prefer somewhere else.

His grades would be absolutely fine, btw, but I think after a bare minimum it's not really very much about grades? This is what they insist and what seems to be true based on who gets offers and who doesn't.

creamteas Sun 28-Oct-12 17:39:31

Betel having worked in HE for many years I am well aware of the similarities and differences grin

Betelguese Sun 28-Oct-12 16:49:02

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Betelguese Sun 28-Oct-12 16:25:02

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Tressy Sun 28-Oct-12 14:52:36

Someone I know had an offer and was from a comp that very rarely gets anyone going up to Oxbridge (this goes in their favour, I reckon). It wasn't medicine or law but something like English ( I cannot remember the exact course) and I know that they didn't get straight A* and A's a GCSE there must have been a few B's. Also didn't meet the offer and they were prepared to accept a grade B for one A level. I would say definitely apply.

sieglinde Sun 28-Oct-12 14:43:46

Yes, quite right, creamteas. (or quite wrong, if you will.)

And Betel, bear in mind that most of us do try :0. I've often tried to help you, and you're not even on my patch grin

However, it's often quite hard to draw a line between due care and constant interference.

I have a funny story to tell; when I was a graduate student, I had moved in with another graduate, who - wrapped no doubt in the fires of passion - had forgotten to answer his college tutor's dinner invitation (or forgotten to check his pidge, maybe). Said tutor was Very Concerned, got a pass key, and burst into the guy's private room, finding us - erm - in flagrante delicto. It was not a happy moment for the pastoral care system. grin

Same college had a domestic Bursar who I once found rummaging through my underwear. I don't know if he was looking for drugs or jollies. But he was a notorious perve, and the women in college would never ever wear a skirt to tutes with him.

Do try to remember that university undergraduates are ADULTS, not toddlers. THEY are responsible for ASKING for help. I always give it if there's a problem, and am willing to spend hours on any kind of issue, but I don't think I should dog their every footstep.

creamteas Sun 28-Oct-12 13:48:20

Whilst all universities have clear policies on welfare, the extent to which they are effective depends very much on individuals IMO. If a Personal Tutor takes their role seriously and is pro-active in monitoring and supporting students they are likely to have a much easier time if things go wrong than if their tutor is just going through the motions. The amount spent is not always the issue

In my experience, two students encountering very similar issues at the same place will result in very different experiences simply because of who their personal tutor is.

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