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Who would do well at Oxbridge?(57 Posts)
My DS got good grades at GCSE, all A/A*/8/9 bar chemistry B
He is predicted straight As at A level.
He is at a good state school and was selected to go on an Oxbridge application trip to encourage state pupils to apply. He went but it now doesn't want to apply.
I suspect it's a bit reverse snobbery here. I'd say we were averagely middle class ( not a term I'd use but trying to give a picture) and it's not as if he working class chip on his shoulder.He thinks it's full of "posh" people.
Or it may be that he doesn't want to 'waste' a space on his application.
However he is looking at Russel Group Unis so I know he likes the idea of a bit of 'status'
(Possibly wrong word choice again!).
I think he would have at least a chance of a place.
Am I a bit deluded?
It's what he feels will be best for him to study. I went to a Russell Group uni. Only one from our year got into Oxbridge. If he doesn't feel it works for him there's not a lot you can do. There are a few YouTube vloggers who are students at Oxbridge. They all seem surprisingly normal to me. Actually, not surprisingly. Bright motivated. Into their subject.
Our background sounds very similar to yours, and DS1 has just finished his masters at Oxford. He has absolutely loved it; really no gripes at all. Yes there were a lot of folk there from more privileged backgrounds than him, but it really doesn't seem to have made any difference. He has made some extremely close friends and is quite sad to be leaving.
My daughter does outreach at Oxford, and no matter how hard they try, the biggest barrier always seems to be the perception that Oxford/Cambridge are full of "posh" people. Until more students like your son apply, this will never change. There are, in fact, all sorts of people at Oxford. The one thing they all have in common, though, is a passion for their subjects, and it is that, more than anything, that will get you through the interview and into Oxbridge. So, it depends on whether you DS has something he really wants to pursue, in interview he will have to show that he is committed to his chosen course of study, as that, more than anything, is how the Oxford tutor system operates. I would say, go for it, it is a really good life experience, even if he doesn't get an offer, he has nothing to lose really.
The best reason to apply to Oxbridge is because they have a course that you really like the look of. Worries about fitting in and whether you will be surrounded by "posh" people are a bit silly, because those people will exist at a lot of other universities too. Fitting in is largely about having confidence in yourself and looking out for others with similar interests and experiences. Whatever his background, your son should be able to find peers that he is comfortable with at any university. It may take some time - a lot of people only really find their tribe in their second year. The snapshot of a few people that you meet at an open day isn't necessarily representative. I'd advise your son to look more closely at the course content and make a decision based on that, rather than superficial reasons/inverse snobbery that you mention.
I think it depends hugely on what college he visited. From memory, Hartford was one of the more inclusive colleges; some were full of ex-Eton types but on the whole it's not like that. I'd encourage him to try and read around about colleges: maybe find info online about their intake, etc. It is an amazing education, but it can socially and emotionally be very difficult. Until you get there it's difficult to really understand that it's your college that shapes your experience far more than the university as a whole, if he finds one that's the right fit it's worth looking into.
There are some posh people at Oxford but also at many universities.
I agree that it is passion for your subject that gets you in. DD's boyfriend achieved just one A* at GCSE, some As and a few Bs. However he is passionate about history and can bullshit for hours on the subject. He sailed through the HAT test and interviews and has an offer to go there. I have every confidence he will succeed.
He won't just be studying a subject, he will be doing his hobby.
Oxbridge are desperate for more state school applicants because the single biggest barrier to state school entrants to Oxbridge is that they don't apply.
I was there when it was even more independent-school dominated than it is now (albeit at a college which was pretty much 50:50) and it was really not the Brideshead Revisited cosplay I'd feared. There were a couple of rahs but the overwhelming majority were just ordinary students. I thought it was significantly less snooty than Bristol where a couple of my friends went.
Lonicera I do feel sorry, if that is the word, for your dd’s boyfriend, as you make it sound like he’s a blagger, when I’m sure he must have worked pretty hard and given a good set of interviews to receive an offer - I’m sure he’s not bullshitting for hours when he’s talking about history!
Sorry, didn’t even address the original question. I can only echo other people’s comments - you will find ‘posh’ people at every university. Might as well be at Oxbridge!
What subject does he want to study? If it's something like history or English, then Oxford is the best place in the country to do it; if something like natural sciences then Cambridge is at the top. He'd benefit from one to one tutoring from some of the brightest people in the country, world experts in their field. He would, of course, be expected to work harder than at any other university in the country too, but if he was up for the challenge, he should definitely go. There's a real mix of people - it does partly depend which college you go to, but ultimately they're all bright young people and he'd probably find that really stimulating.
Hingle he admitted he could bullshit about history. I was using his words not mine
If it's something like history or English, then Oxford is the best place in the country to do it; if something like natural sciences then Cambridge is at the top.
That's really, really, really subjective. There are lots of good places to do English or History, and you'd need to look at the course content and the feel of the place. Granted, Natural Sciences is a little different because the course is quite distinctive.
Anyway. OP, if he doesn't like the feel of the place from the Open Day, I'd say maybe fair enough? Some people just don't. It's not full of posh people, but they're both touristy cities with a particular feel to then.
Thanks for the comments so far.
He hasn't been to either for an Open Day yet. He went to an information day at a local college where they had cherry picked the clever clogs from lots of local schools.
He's leaning towards something geographical/geological
Earth Sciences at Oxford, do it! There’s a really good college on the high street that offers it.
I went to Cambridge and I'm definitely middle class. My friends came from a range of backgrounds.
I do believe some young people are quick to reject Oxbridge as posh but this is really a defence mechanism. It is better to reject Oxbridge rather than be rejected by them. You have to be prepared to take a risk.
I think taking a risk is my attitude too.
He will still have 4 choices left. Somewhere 'good' will want him. He's lovely.
And if we had a one in five chance of a lottery win we'd go for it.
My son is at Cambridge and like yours state educated (comprehensive). He’s made some amazing friends from all backgrounds who i’m sure will be friends for life. Certainly many are from wealthier backgrounds and many are privately educated but as in any university you find those that are like minded - more about interests, values etc not money. I agree with the other posters - most important is a genuine love and interest for your subject. I’d also add that it really helps to have the sort of personality that helps you maintain the balance of the workload (undoubtably heavy) and everything else that student life offers. For DS not worrying about everyone elses performance, just his own, is a factor. He is certaintly having fun too!
Maybe try a subject taster day rather than just an open day? And as others have said no harm at all in applying as one of the 5 choices.
"Worries about fitting in and whether you will be surrounded by "posh" people are a bit silly, because those people will exist at a lot of other universities too. "
Not to the same extent and there are stats to prove that.
I went to Cambridge from a pretty ordinary comprehensive in North Wales. I was resolutely not posh although I got a bit posher after four years there! There were some terrible snobbish twats there but also loads of interesting cool people from all walks of life. My friends ranged from child of a bin man to daughter of a peer. If you have the grades then you can have a great time..... if you are prepared to be open minded and also stand up for yourself.
Having said that I chose Cambridge because I went on an open day to Oxford and hated everyone I met there!
He has to go to both and spend a day getting a feel for the places before he can decide.
Natural sciences at Cambridge specialising in Geology. I went from a pretty normal state school, hadn’t sent anyone to Cambridge in 3 years, 2 to oxford in that time. My friends were a pretty normal bunch - there were a few seriously posh folk about but I didn’t seem to encounter them all that often. As someone else said, the college counts for a lot. I immediately binned any that asked for STEP papers as my school didn’t offer them and that seemed to remove most of the colleges with a strongly private school intake and particularly the public schools. Thinking about my close friends now, I’m not entirely sure who went to private schools, it really wasn’t something that came up.
The course was utterly exhausting and the workload was bonkers but we were being taught by the people who wrote the seminal papers in the field - awesome. It was also much more supportive than the ‘standard’ uni where I did my PhD. There’s also hundreds of years of financial help hanging about in the form of bursaries- I turned out to be eligible for a scholarship for ‘the sons and daughters of grocers’ not huge but it paid half a terms rent!
Ah yes @DrWhy the random bursaries are great. I got money to go to Italy during one summer which was only for female students at my college wanting to learn an extra language. You had to write a little essay explaining why you wanted it. I think there were only three applicants.
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