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Cambridge offer - DS might want to turn it down
175

AndyFloss · 30/01/2022 07:58

DS has a Cambridge offer. He's delighted, but he is now starting to consider whether he wants to go down this path of unbelievable pressure.

If he commits to getting in, he'll be under massive pressure to achieve the required grade for 4 A levels PLUS the step exam (Maths).

This is making him think that although he could really push himself to do it and he has the capability, it is possible that once in, he'll be under unbearable pressure for 3 years. And all for what?

He potentially risks getting a lower grade in his degree, whilst if he goes somewhere like Warwick, also good for Maths, he could do very well and also have a nicer life.

Of course he then goes back full circle thinking that if he rejects a Cambridge offer, he'll regret it for the rest of his life.

I'd love to hear opinions please.

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Twizbe · 30/01/2022 08:01

I think he'd regret it if he turned it down.

He likes his insurance offer so he knows that if the pressure gets too much during A Levels he has that back up. As a very last resort he can always defer going to uni for a year and reapply once a levels are finished as well.

My brother went to Cambridge and I went to Warwick. Different courses but I don't think either of us felt pressure. Uni is about self driven study so the only pressure comes from yourself.

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orinocosfavoritecake · 30/01/2022 08:02

Take the offer. If he doesn’t get the grades, he goes to Warwick. Which is fine, more than fine.

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GiantSpider · 30/01/2022 08:04

I have a Cambridge degree in a STEM subject and I feel that it has opened doors for me throughout my life.

Surely the pressure to get the right grades at A Level won't be "unbearable" if he has a second choice uni with a lower offer that he's also really keen on and would be happy to go there?

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astoundedgoat · 30/01/2022 08:04

He would regret it forever. The pressure does not outweigh the fun, especially and he is clearly a very clever young man, and the impact it has on the choices he has available later for jobs and further degrees is incalculable.

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astoundedgoat · 30/01/2022 08:04

He would regret NOT going to Cambridge, I mean!

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GMH74 · 30/01/2022 08:07

If he is worried about the pressure now he needs to think about what the pressure would be like when he was actually there. I went to Cambridge years ago (for a totally different subject) and I was really unhappy. I did worse than expected and the fairly poor grade (2:2) has massively held me back. I now do a job which doesn't even require a degree! Many employers won't look at you without a 2:1 or above even if that grade is from Cambridge. I would have been better going somewhere still good but with less pressure and a more caring atmosphere and to have got a better grade.

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PinchOfVom · 30/01/2022 08:08

My husband went to Oxford and seemed to spend most of his time playing in his band

Obviously he worked his ass off too but it’s definitely not lacking fun

I think the pressure comes more from within but if he’s able to get as far as he has already, he’s probably going to cope fine

A levels are more stress really aren’t they

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interferingma · 30/01/2022 08:10

The points you make are good ones. DS went to Cambridge to study English and curses at all the people who lord it over him with their firsts because they went to Birmingham or Exeter etc. Firsts are thinner on the ground at Cambridge. But on the other hand he maintains he really did get a first class academic education. The teaching and supervisions (cambridge version of tutorials) were, he says, amazing.
Also they work bloody hard. Whereas his contemporaries elsewhere had a small handful of essays a term, he was churning out two a week, which were picked over in detail at those supervisions. So there's less time for other things.
Personally I found college life, looking in from the outside, strangely monastic. I don't think that was his experience so much though.
But set against all of that it is CAMBRIDGE.
Maths is a tricky one too because there is that extra variable of STEP. In all honesty the A level offer isnt the issue (DD got four A stars in maths, further maths physics and chemistry and went elsewhere). But she'd have hated that extra STEP pressure. That's the kicker. In addition maths at any decent university is a gateway to a good job. I think my DS felt that doing english it was a no brainer to shoot for the best bc its not such a useful degree. But with Maths, frankly it makes you very employable.
DS also said the mathmos at Cambridge were a breed apart anyway - heads down even more than the rest of the students. Does your DS have other interests that might suffer if he spends all his time working or is maths the Thing he wants to do?

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MyHouseToday · 30/01/2022 08:12

Thank you for sharing your experiences, I'm in a similar position with my DD but I am the one with the wobble... I am also concerned about the pressure. I'll take this thread into account when it comes to deciding on firming up. She's still awaiting two offers.

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interferingma · 30/01/2022 08:12

Won't your DS still have to do STEP if he firms Warwick?

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Nailsbythesea · 30/01/2022 08:15

Take it. Maths at Cambridge and Warwick are both the same pressure

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ninja · 30/01/2022 08:16

There can be some value about being a big fish in a small pond - but I'm not sure that Warwick is a small pond!

I felt that in some ways Cambridge only cared about the top 20 mathematicians in every year and I had friends that dropped out or changed course who would have thrived elsewhere. Saying that I'm sure it does open doors if you look for them.

Is he at a state comp? Private school kids don't seem to have that lack of confidence.

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Haus1234 · 30/01/2022 08:19

I did maths at Cambridge and I’m a normal person who spent more time not studying than studying thanks @interferingma! The college system at Cambridge makes it easier than most universities to make close friends with groups of people who aren’t in your subject, play low level sport (ie there are 30 college football teams + uni teams so if you aren’t that great you can still play), get involved in plays etc. Theres loads of opportunities to have fun and go out, though there are obviously also periods of working hard and pressure (mostly in exam term).

Is there any issue with him putting Cambridge down as first choice and Warwick as second letting STEP essentially decide for him, if he does think he might want to go?

Based on my working experience, I don’t think there’s going to be a huge employability gap between maths at Warwick vs Cambridge so I wouldn’t worry too much about that.

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EmmaGrundyForPM · 30/01/2022 08:20

My friends son had an offer for Cambridge to do maths. He had Warwick as his insurance. He didn't do well in the STEP paper so didn't make his Cambridge offer.

He then decided he really didn't want Warwick. Warwick and Cambridge are very different unis. He realised that he wanted to be in a town/city, not stuck in the middle of nowhere. He decided to take a gap year, then reapplied this time to Oxford, and was accepted. He loved Oxford and had a great time.

However good the course at Warwick, it doesn't suit a lot of people due to its location.

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mynameiscalypso · 30/01/2022 08:21

I have a degree from Cambridge but I really wanted to turn it down and go to my second choice university instead. My mum convinced me otherwise. Was it the right thing to do? I don't know. I have a great bunch of friends from Cambridge but I hated my time there. It didn't really suit me at all. I didn't find the pressure too bad but I was doing an arts degree and my whole degree result was based on 4 exams at the end of my third year. I think friends who went to other unis had much more constant stress with coursework and more modular type degrees. There's no denying though that having a Cambridge degree has made it easier professionally and opened doors that way so I don't think I regret it per se. But it's a tough choice and I sympathise with your DS a lot. For what it's worth, my DH did maths at Warwick, had a blast and had a far more successful career than me!

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interferingma · 30/01/2022 08:22

sorry for the generalisation @Haus1234! I report what DS reported. i expect the English students had reputation for wafting about the place quoting poetry!
The college system is awesome too.

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Ironoaks · 30/01/2022 08:22

He can choose Cambridge as his firm offer and Warwick as his insurance offer.

A-level grades: If he has been given a Cambridge offer for Maths, he is likely to get the grades. I can't imagine that the required grades for Warwick will be that different?

STEP: only about half of Cambridge maths offer holders will get the required STEP grades (the grade boundaries are set to achieve this outcome). If he doesn't fall in the top 50%, he has Warwick to fall back on.

Pressure at Cambridge: DS is doing a course where the first year workload is known for being at the heavy end of the scale, even for Cambridge. It was not significantly more than the workload of four A-levels, and definitely manageable. He was working about 55 hours a week in term time, but the terms are short. If they enjoy their subject, it is not too onerous, and there is enough free time to have hobbies / a social life too. Now halfway through second year, he has not so far felt under 'unbearable pressure'.

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Totalwasteofpaper · 30/01/2022 08:23

@GiantSpider

I have a Cambridge degree in a STEM subject and I feel that it has opened doors for me throughout my life.

Surely the pressure to get the right grades at A Level won't be "unbearable" if he has a second choice uni with a lower offer that he's also really keen on and would be happy to go there?

This.

My DH went to Oxford its opened incredible doors and the University system itself is much more collegiate and supportive.

I panicked and refused to even apply due to "the pressure" and massively regret it. My on paper great degree was unchallenging and teaching standard abysmal (it was 5 star rated)

If he truly hates he can do 1 year at Cambridge drop out and do Warwick. No harm no foul.
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Bumpsadaisie · 30/01/2022 08:28

If your lad got an offer they clearly think he's up to it.

Accept it, work hard for A levels and see where you are in August.

He can always choose Warwick at that point, in a free choice if he meets his cam offer.

Timings have changed since my day and you've only just heard about his offer I guess.

Whatever you do don't rush.

At the end of the day Cambrjdge is great but it is just a university. It's busy there and there are lots of bright people. But it's still normal. There are many students there and a great range of experiences.

No reason why your DS could not go, work hard yes, but also enjoy himself.

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Neolara · 30/01/2022 08:28

My dd was considering applying to Warwick for maths this year but was put off because so much of it was still online. Also the 30 minute commute to campus in years 2 and 3. This would be very different to the Cambridge experience. Something to think about maybe.

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MrsEricBana · 30/01/2022 08:33

I think that while his points are absolutely valid he should take the Cambridge offer because of the opportunities it will afford him during and after his time there.

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sanbeiji · 30/01/2022 08:39

There's no turning back if he rejects Cam.
There are however a lot of options if he goes and hates it/doesn't make the grade.

On that basis he should take up the offer.

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Twinkleylight · 30/01/2022 08:39

I used to work with a buy with a third from Cambridge and it absolutely didn't stop him from progressing in his career. If he had got a 3rd from anywhere else, he wouldn't be have had the same opportunities. The degree from Cambridge opened doors for him.

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Twinkleylight · 30/01/2022 08:40

Guy not buy!

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erinaceus · 30/01/2022 08:41

Cambridge would not have made him an offer if they didn't think they could thrive there.

Does he like maths? Can he reframe it as embracing the challenge of Maths/Further Maths/STEP, and it matters not one jot if he get there or not, but just to go for it? This only works if this is also your sentiment and the pressure is not coming from you. I only suggest this because it is a mental trick I used before to evade the feeling of putting pressure on myself.

If he has Warwick as his insurance choice then he is going to go somewhere excellent for maths.

I didn't go to Oxbridge but know several who did and they do seem to have an enormous amount of fun, albeit quite a different experience to other universities. There are some youtubers who vlog their time at university whom he could watch to get a sense of what it is like.

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