Students access Oxbridge insight

The informative Q&A session which happens annually and is open to all current students covered applications, personal statements and interviews as well as what life is like at the country's most prestigious universities.

Ros Jones, studying Medicine at Cambridge, gave advice on writing a personal statement and said: “It’s a good idea to get a large chunk of your statement written before you come back to college after the summer because time will go so quickly in your second year.” Chris Slim, studying Chemical Engineering at Cambridge, agreed and added: "And make sure you expand on all your achievements; try not to simply list what you've done."

The panel also compared the interview process for both Oxford and Cambridge, with the common factor emerging that the interviewers are mostly interested in your thought process and what kind of person you are rather than your overall answers. James Lowe is reading Mathematics and said: “I had three interviews over three days at Oxford, but they were only half an hour each so there was plenty of time to meet other students. I was asked to think about some maths I could teach the interviewer so I used the topic from my Extended Project.”

The audience was also interested in how the students chose which particular college to apply for. Robert Eyers, reading Law at Cambridge, responded with: “The open days are a great opportunity to explore. The atmosphere isn’t to do with buildings; it’s about the people, so you’ll get a better idea about life at university if you wander around with a guide instead of on your own.”

Inevitably the conversation turned to university social life, with Ros stating: “there are so many societies! There is likely to be a society for anything you can think of, but if there isn’t, there are opportunities to set one up.” 

Most of the students admitted their social lives revolved around their college, but Andrew Orkney, reading Earth Sciences at Oxford, said his circumstance was different. “The friends I’ve made are mainly through my course because we all went on a geology trip together at the start of the year. You’ll meet people at different times through different activities, so it really depends on how your schedule works out.”

Read more about the More Able and Talented Programme at Alton College and come along to our next Open Evening to hear from our current Oxbridge applicants.