No point thinking about Oxbridge?

(35 Posts)
MissTakexxx Tue 19-Sep-17 12:27:25

DD has just started the sixth form at her school and there's a lot of talk about who's going to apply to Oxbridge. Lots of her peers achieved 8 to 10 A*s at GCSE but DD only got 4 A*s, 3 As and 3 Bs.

With those GCSE results, is there no point in her even beginning to think about Oxbridge as an option? Her school usually get about 30 to 40 Upper 6th into Oxbridge each year but most of those have 10 to 12 A*s at GCSE. Compared with them she's not going to shine but there are always exceptions?

OP’s posts: |
2014newme Tue 19-Sep-17 12:28:47

Is there something you think makes her exceptional?

SirVixofVixHall Tue 19-Sep-17 12:36:00

Lots of her peers got 8-10 A* ? Crikey. Is she at a very selective school?

LadyPeterWimsey Tue 19-Sep-17 12:40:33

If the school get those numbers into Oxbridge, then they are the ones who will have the best idea of whether it is worth her applying. I would be giving both her and them time to see how she copes with the sixth form before asking them, though, as pupils can really develop over the lower 6th - or alternatively can reach the limits of their abilities. It will take a bit of time before anybody knows how she is really doing.

I don't know any statistics but I am sure are some students at Oxbridge with GCSE grades like your DD's - although I would guess there would not be too many. What is more important is whether she has the ability and drive to do exceptionally well in her A levels, and to work beyond the A-level syllabus. Applying to Oxbridge will be an awful lot of work. I don't think I would thinking about it now; if she ends up with excellent A-level grades she can always apply after A-levels.

Needmoresleep Tue 19-Sep-17 12:41:27

It's only one line on the UCAS form!

What do the school say? Is she happy to jump through the hoops if the chances are low?

One difference between GCSEs and University is that the latter can suit those talented in specific subjects as opposed to all rounders.

Kez100 Tue 19-Sep-17 12:42:54

My understanding is that Oxford tend to look at GCSEs and Cambridge don't so much preferring AS levels and the course entrance exams. I'm sure they will both be interested in her predicted A level grades and the A levels subjects. How does she stand with those? What course will she be looking at?

MissTakexxx Tue 19-Sep-17 13:24:29

Thanks everyone. The school say they don't dissuade people but they clearly - from what I know - 'back' the obvious winners. DD isn't really exceptional - except to me of course, as she's my DD - but she's an all-rounder and definitely now inclining towards the arts/humanities.

She doesn't really know what she wants to do at uni or beyond and is considering things like Theology/Philosophy/Eng Lit. She's also dithering between thinking about a 'good job in the city' - whatever that might mean - but something that pays well - to a career that allows her to draw on her creative side. In her spare time, she loves making films and if she has a talent for anything, it's for integrating music, imagery and story-lines in a creative way (she's great with computer skills too) - but she goes to a school where only traditional subjects are on offer and traditional career paths expected - eg law, medicine, engineering.

She'd probably be fairly relaxed about applying and then failing to get in but most of her friends are the sort who will apply and succeed and I've always harboured a secret wish that she'd end up at one of my old Oxbridge colleges one day. So it may be more my dream than her desire.

I've no idea yet what the school expect her predicted A level grades to be. She's doing Eng Lit, Economics and RS A level and Philosophy Pre-U and got her A*s in the equivalent GCSEs for Eng Lit/Lang and RS, an A* in Maths, if that helps Economics and Philosophy seems to draw on her ability in RS and logical thinking but I don't know if she'll get A*s in all of those at A level.

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mrsmuddlepies Tue 19-Sep-17 13:51:28

If she is at a non selective school that rarely have students who apply to Oxbridge, she is more likely to have an offer from them. They are very keen to redress the balance between state and independent. They are also keen to draw from student groups who are under represented.
The fiasco about pre U this summer makes me wonder how seriously Oxbridge will view this exam as an entrance qualification in future.
Both my not spectacularly bright children went to Oxford but this was from a Comprehensive school sixth form. Both achieved firsts.

silkpyjamasallday Tue 19-Sep-17 14:56:46

Has your DD actually expressed any real interest in applying to Oxbridge? There's nothing in your post to suggest so, only she has mentioned it is the talk of the school.

She sounds a lot like me at that age, and in the same type of school and similar high achieving ambitious peer group. I was creative, and I knew I was happiest when making something - anything. I should have done something related to that like upholstery or carpentry but I felt pressure to go to uni as I had been privately educated, and my school (and parents to an extent) looked down on anything not graduate level/prestigious like being a doctor or lawyer or zoologist. I had similar GCSEs to you daughter with a few a*s and was dissuaded from applying for history of art at oxford by my school. I got into all the unis I applied to and went to UCL, hated it had a mental breakdown and dropped out. I should have done what made me happy or had a year of work alongside my own creative pursuits to decide what it was I wanted to do with my life.

If your daughter has a passion for film and cinematography why doesn't she look at courses to do with that? I just got the feel from your post that you are similar to how my DPs were with me and it really damaged our relationship because they didn't consider all avenues for my life only the accepted path for a private schoolgirl with good grades. I had two friends who were desperate to go to oxbridge due to family 'tradition' both had clutches of all A*s and loved their respective subject choices, neither got a place. If your DD hasn't got a particular passion for a subject offered at Oxbridge there really isn't much point in her applying even if she wants to go herself as just picking something you are vaguely interested in and ok at isn't going to get you a place.

Ttbb Tue 19-Sep-17 15:14:14

It really depends on what she is applying for/how well she interviews. Oxbridge isn't be be all and end all anyway, why not look to university abroad? Alternatively some of the universities in London are actually better than oxbridge for some subjects anyway. She should be focusing on studying with the best academics possible for her subject area not the name of the university.

2014newme Tue 19-Sep-17 15:19:53

@Ttbb I've heard that you can't get students loans for courses abroad

Allthebestnamesareused Tue 19-Sep-17 15:41:12

She probably won't be able to study Economics as a degree as most degree courses require Maths A level. However as an aside Theology is generally undersubscribed. Philosophy at Oxford requires you to have taken their own pre-test. So if she is shining at A level in her subjects they will be more interested in her pre-testing than her GCSE results.

gamerpigeon Tue 19-Sep-17 15:50:05

If she's an all rounder she might prefer the Scottish system anyway. You don't have to specialise so early there.

A few Bs wouldn't be the end of her chances but she would need to be able to demonstrate enthusiasm for her chosen subject and have cracking submitted work / good entry test scores (if relevant)

BasiliskStare Tue 19-Sep-17 18:43:22

"She doesn't really know what she wants to do at uni"

This more than GCSE results would say more about aiming for any university which interviews ( not just Oxford or Cambridge) to me ( I am not a tutor) .

I am pragmatic so people may disagree with me - do one step at a time - get the university place ( if that is what she wants ) . Other than properly vocational courses - so Medicine / Engineering or e.g. Maths / Economics - some courses like History / Philosophy / Theology show an aptitude for logical thinking and will be useful in a slightly different way.

Travelledtheworld Tue 19-Sep-17 18:50:25

My son got very similar GCSE results but has his heart set on Oxbridge He is preparing himself for a Physics Aptitude test as I speak. He is capable of A*/A if he stays focused and stops gaming. Which he has so far this term.

annandale Tue 19-Sep-17 18:58:05

Exactly what silkpyjamas said. Is there any reason why she is not putting 100% into what is needed for film and cinematography now?

LRDtheFeministDragon Tue 19-Sep-17 19:46:22

She has only just started in the sixth form. She has plenty of time to think, and it is normal at this stage to be open-minded.

Her grades don't rule out Oxbridge at all, and (as others say), it's only one line on her UCAS application, so not a big deal.

It is really hard, at her age, to work out how to make her interests add up to the degree she wants to take, let alone the job she wants to do. IMO what is easier is to work out whether or not any Oxbridge degree looks interesting to her. If one does, she should apply. GCSE grades will be one factor considered, but not the only one.

MissTakexxx Tue 19-Sep-17 20:34:45

She's at a very selective school, Mrsmuddles, so I think is less likely to be accepted at Oxbridge with her results.

Silky, she has mentioned thinking about Oxbridge but mainly because so many of her friends are wanting to go and because of my own links to both places.

I don't think she's exactly passionate about cinematography, Silky - only uncertain really about what kind of career to pursue and whether to turn a hobby into a career. I considered this too at her age but in the end kept hobbies as hobbies and did something completely unrelated as a career.

I thought if she just did something she's fairly keen on at uni and then that would give her time to think about careers afterwards and so why not try Oxbridge, especially as I feel she'd get her money's worth there, with all the intense tutoring. But if she'd not be happy there, then that's fine.

However, happy or not, I don't know if she'd actually get in. I only 'slipped through the net' as an undergraduate because my school was trying to send a candidate - me - for the first time ever. I then got into the 'other place' too probably because I had the undergraduate degree from the rival uni. It was all very different in my day and I applied via arts A levels and went on to do a science.

She knows that without Maths A level, she can't do Economics but they didn't advise people to do Maths A level unless they got A* in Further Maths and took GCSE Maths early - and DD didn't.

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alreadytaken Tue 19-Sep-17 22:29:02

why dont you move her to a different school? Instead of trying to push her into a model that isnt where her talents lie send her somewhere that would nurture her skills and guide her towards something that would suit her.

MissTakexxx Wed 20-Sep-17 12:31:20

Alreadytaken, she loves her school and has had friends there from the age of 4, so wouldn't want to leave at this point. She's just dithering between making a hobby a career or pursuing something with security, that pays well and keeping her hobbies for pleasure only.

She thought that a degree from Oxbridge might improve her chances of a 'city career' - whatever that means to her. I think she wants good earnings and a career path but I've also talked to her about quality of life - maybe less earning potential but enjoying the day to day job she might do. If only she knew what she wanted to do.

As I have no experience of non-Oxbridge universities and her friends and wider family have Oxbridge aspirations and/or experience, she began to contemplate that route but isn't sure her GCSEs are good enough to make it a viable option. She's actually quite academic - just not the highest flier in her particular school cohort and prefers and is better at arts than STEM subjects - unlike the majority of her peers.

In a non-Oxbridge uni, would she get the same kind of hours teaching input? I think that's been one concern for me if she doesn't go the Oxbridge route, especially as I'll be funding her.

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SuperRainbows Wed 20-Sep-17 12:37:03

I would have thought she would get more hours in a non-Oxbridge uni.

My DS went to Cambridge and had very short teaching hours and 8 week terms.

PetalMettle Wed 20-Sep-17 12:40:33

I got 3a*, 4a and 3b and got into Cambridge. However I had to work bloody hard when I was there. If she doesn't know what she wants to do and therefore would like free time to do extra curricular stuff somewhere else may be beyter

user918273645 Wed 20-Sep-17 12:54:52

would she get the same kind of hours teaching input?

Number of teaching hours is a pretty irrelevant statistic in judging quality of courses. As pp wrote, Oxbridge courses often have low numbers of contact hours, but in small groups, and Oxbridge students are encouraged to do a lot of independent work right from the outset.

I'm a bit surprised that you would think that world leading universities like UCL, LSE, Imperial etc might not be offering highly respected undergraduate courses. Oxford and Cambridge are not the only leading universities in the UK.

LRDtheFeministDragon Wed 20-Sep-17 13:26:47

Oxbridge courses often have low numbers of contact hours

I'm not so sure about this. Contact hours include a high proportion of optional contact time - eg., lectures might well not be mandatory - but I think contact hours are quite high TBH. If you went to a lecture in each slot offered, plus your regular college teaching, in my subject you'd clock up 22 hours of contact time in a week quite easily.

That's just a quibble, though, since I don't have an enormous pool of comparison to know what contact hours other universities offer, and because I broadly agree that this focus on Oxbridge seems a bit strange to me. What is a 'city career' and why wouldn't it be well served by LSE or wherever? I know there are people who use Oxbridge very successfully as a springboard into certain types of career, but I think you have to know which career it is rather than just thinking something will fall into your lap.

goingagain Wed 20-Sep-17 13:35:07

Honestly, I think city careers sort of do just fall into your lap much more easily at Oxbridge.

(Oxbridge alumni)

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