There is no doubting the reputations and the uniqueness of the university experience at institutions such as Oxford or Cambridge. However, not everyone thrives at Oxbridge and there are many other excellent universities with highly rated courses.
Oxbridge terms are shorter than elsewhere at only eight weeks and, in consequence, are significantly more intense. For essay-based subjects, students are usually asked to produce one or two essays each week and each is discussed in a small group tutorial (Oxford) or supervision (Cambridge) with an expert in that particular field.
In other subjects’ expectations are equally high with a combination of classes to attend, practical work to complete and problems to solve, again with the support of the tutor / supervisor.
All of this is on top of a weekly programme of lectures and seminars.
Any students applying to Oxbridge should make sure that they are capable of withstanding, or better, thriving, in an atmosphere of intensive pressure and competition. If you decide to go ahead with an Oxbridge application, you will need to undertake some additional work over the summer holidays and meet regularly with the Lead Teacher for sixth form who is best placed to offer guidance.
Choosing a College at Oxford or Cambridge
Oxford and Cambridge universities are collegiate so applicants can either do an open application, if they don’t have a college preference or they can choose a College of preference to which to apply. By being a member of a College, one becomes a member of the university.
- Remember that the university course is more important than the College choice. Try not to set your dream on one particular College at the potential expense of getting the offer from the university
- It is not possible to study every subject at every College. Some of the undergraduate teaching will take place in your College, some of it will be in other Colleges where specialists happen to be based
- Check to see what your course (and College) requires in terms of submitted work, tests and interview
- One College may seem particularly attractive because of one of its Professors. Take time to find out who might actually be teaching the undergraduates
- If you can, try to find out if any of the teaching fellows are due to go on sabbatical in the following year – this may cause a College to reduce its intake for a particular subject
- Seek the advice of your tutor, your subject teachers and the Progressions Coordinator
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