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DS wishes he didn’t go to Oxford(45 Posts)
DS has just finished his first year at Oxford. He really enjoyed the work he studied, and found it super interesting. He had some problems with bad teaching/pressurising tutors in his first year but he has made friends.
He told me he worked really really hard, but he still only got a 2.1 in his exams.
He’s been looking at his old school
mate’s experiences at other universities like Bristol, Edinburgh etc. His mates have all had much more ‘fun’ than him, clubbing, time for a job, an all round uni experience and have come out with firsts in their first year exams without many hours put in. (Of course no one knows for sure if they are telling the truth!)
But ds has found himself on the cusp of 2nd year wishing he went to a normal university. Where he’d have a “life” and the work wouldn’t be so hard.
I'm sure there will be a fair few of your ds's mates looking enviously at him and thinking he's had a better experience.
In the second year, in particular, I think ds had a much better time than his friends. Many of those in student houses found themselves a bit isolated with just their housemates as they no longer made new friends as they weren't in a hall situation.
He needs to think about the long term outlook. Are his friends at other universities going to be able to continue to get firsts without putting much work in? Probably not. He has shorter terms at Oxford, so he's working hard but over a shorter period of time. When he graduates he's likely to be looking forward to a highly paid career which will give him more opportunities for fun, travel etc. But to a certain extent he is just going to have to work really hard to make the most of the opportunity he's been given. That's the deal. Hopefully he's got the maturity to see that.
This thread seems like déjà vu, I am sure there was a similar thread a few months ago.
That’s exactly what I thought, daydream.
Realistically everyone at Oxford is clever and hard working and they won’t all get firsts. It’s a bit of a shock going from being top of your school class to middling at Oxford - but he’ll get used to it and it is an amazing place to study. There’s nothing wrong with a 2.1 ... he’s just used to being the best and it’s harder to be that at Oxford. Character building!
I went to Cambridge and it’s opened so many doors for me.
Tell him he can plan a gap year after his degree volunteering somewhere or further study somewhere with less pressure.
The best year of my life in terms of partying and having a big circle of friends was as a British Council language assistant after university.
My ds2 has just finished his 2nd year at Oxford. He is managing to work hard and enjoy himself and some of his school friends at other 'good" unis feel a bit understretched and undermotivated.
Why is a 2.1 after 1st year bad?
He surely knew what he was signing up for when accepting his Oxford offer?!
Your DS clearly has a clever cohort of school friends. Some of them have gone to unis where the standard maybe isn't as high, or have chosen courses they are more naturally gifted in, or have been able to adapt to the teaching style a bit quicker. Or they're lying about their level, of course!
I genuinely don't mean to be rude, but if he thought he could go to Oxford and cruise... I mean, someone has got to be in the middle, why shouldn't it be him?
I apologise, that was rude of me.
But truly in the scale of problems to have, what a lovely one....
My daughter has just graduated with a first from Bristol. She did go clubbing and had a part time job but for the third year that stopped and she really focused. Her social life ground practically to a halt and she was in the library from 8am most days. She reckons a first and full on party student lifestyle are incompatible.
I went to Oxford (a few years ago now!). I hated every minute of it - so much pressure on myself and I didn't enjoy the course either. I'm so glad I went there now - it has opened so many doors for me, but I am envious of my friends who had a "normal" university experience. I did a four year course too... 🤦♀️
I also found it hard going from being the top of the class easily to working hard to be in the middle.
A 2:1is amazing. When you get an oxford degree your grade isn't so relevant.
I would have enjoyed another university more but I'm proud that I was able to go, but also proud that I stuck it out.
Message me if it would be helpful.
His job prospects will be better with a 2:1 from Oxbridge than a 1st from Russell group. So he should relax.
(I’m an employer and know lots of others who employ from Oxbridge and others)
Oops posted before I finished.
I think it’s good your son is honest. He won’t be the only one feeling like this. We had some really honest chats with some Oxbridge people and my Dd decided her overall experience would be better/happier not going to Oxbridge for lots of reasons. However, he has to remember the positives (listed above) and also that he’s missed that ‘first year’ now anyway. From second year on, students do have to start buckling down as results count whichever uni you’re at.
Big fish small pond syndrome - about 2 weeks into my first year, me and another girl from my course ended up in her room opening up about this over wine, and wishing we'd taken the nice 2 E offers that we'd been given from elsewhere. We got over ourselves after a good drunken cry and cracked on, both proud of our 2:1s while having a good social life. But it is tough when you are used to being the best, then run into someone who in our case had studied ancient Greek from the age of 6, when I took it up at 14 and she started at 18. Hopefully he has found his people, and will be happy.
This may seem similar to a previous thread because I think it’s a common issue amongst Oxford students. Dd’s Bf was almost on the point of quitting and reapplying elsewhere. But decided to accept that if he wanted any sort of social life he had to ease off on the self-imposed pressure & be content with 2.1s in his essays etc.
I think many students fail to appreciate in advance just how different the experience will be to their peers at other unis.
He needs to shift his thinking - a 2, I is a very good result in the 1st year. He’s setting himself up for unhappiness really unnecessarily by that frame of thinking.
Once he’s graduated, what will count in the long term is what he’s learnt and what he can put into action in a career. To a certain extent, where his degree is from will count for him, and in the very short term, his degree classification will have some influence but not as much as he may think.
Also get him to think about learning: it’s cumulative. What he knows now is waaaay more than what knew when he first went up.
Also Oxford only does 8 week terms. The idea is that you work your socks off quite intensively. At my place we teach 12 week terms, and I sometimes think we’d be more effective if we did the shorter more intensive teaching, with vacations time for undergrads to reflect on and digest their learning.
And yes, to the big fish/small pond syndrome. Going from being one of the brightest, to simply one of 1000s of the brightest can be tough if you’re competitive.
Students who derive their self-esteem from being “top” lies out I think. They focus on the marks, rather than the learning and the knowledge they’re acquiring.
Your DS could think about adjusting his outlook to see a 2, 1 as meaning he is on track and doing well, with space and potential ability to improve. As an academic that’s what I mean when I assign a 2,1 mark.
Also “Comparison is the thief of joy”
Seems almost identical - www.mumsnet.com/Talk/higher_education/3578932-DS-wishes-he-chose-Bristol-over-Oxford.
Also you take yourself with you everywhere. (It took me many decades to figure this out!)
Some people will have fun and thrive whatever school/institution/job they are in. Others will always be thinking if only I'd gone there or done this or chosen that life would have been sooooo much better.
On another issue, it does seem that those who are firm believers in "all universities are the same" and say that CVs should have the institution attended blanked out should just take a look at the difference in the work of, say, an English degree at various places. Frankly I couldn't believe how lightweight the English Literature degree was at one Russell Group university (information gleaned from surveying dn's work last year).
I think Oxbridge is a very different experience to other universities. In my experience most of the people I know who went to Oxbridge recently haven't enjoyed the university experience as much as their friends who went to other Russell Group universities. The pressure of 8 week terms does test the mental health of many students. My DD has certainly found that to secure a first at Oxbridge it is hard to then do all the extras like apply for internships and join lots of career enhancing societies.
My friends' DCs have also found that when it comes to most graduate jobs that those from the Russell Group have ended up with the same types of employers and roles as the Oxbridge grads - which is quite dejecting after all their hard work.
However, my DD feels that the whole Oxbridge experience is worth it in the end.
I'd suggest he contact his tutor and tells them how he feels. He is not the first student to have doubts during the long vacation.
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