This year, we will be sharing the stories of some of our tutors and how they came to study at Oxford or Cambridge. Stay tuned for more stories from our tutors.
My name is Ayesha and I’m a first year Medic at Jesus College, Oxford. I’m a second generation Brit of Asian heritage and was born and raised in Lancashire, applying to Oxford from a state school and Sixth Form college, in a small town in the North of England.
Before I applied to Oxford, I had two main concerns:
1 — I wouldn’t be good enough to be accepted
2 — My background would make being offered a place more difficult
If you share these apprehensions, I hope I can convince you that they shouldn’t be overriding concerns.
I never grew up dreaming of studying at the Dreaming Spires and only considered applying to Oxford two weeks before the deadline! It wasn’t because I wasn’t interested in the University and the medical degree they offered, but more because I was afraid to apply and be rejected.
For many people who apply here, failure isn’t something they are familiar with!
If the idea of attending the best university in the world, to study arguably the most competitive degree wasn’t daunting enough, applying from a high school which had never before had a successful Oxbridge applicant made it that much tougher. I was also aware of the big North/South divide, coming from an ethnic minority background and wearing a headscarf made it seem like there was just too many hoops to jump through. I was very concerned that the calibre of student Oxford expect would be beyond my capabilities and I would struggle to keep up with the rest of my year.
The list of reasons not to apply just kept growing!
I knew if I didn’t give it a shot I’d always wonder what could have been. And so my journey to Oxford started.
The truth was it doesn’t matter where you are from, your accent, background, religion or race; if your application and interviews show you’re good enough, Oxford will welcome you! The diversity of the student body is only ever improving and worrying about fitting in should not be the reason not to apply. With over 23,000 students and 38 colleges finding people who share your interests/beliefs is not so difficult.
The plethora of societies available to join ensures you’re always meeting new people, united by a common interest. Some societies even help prospective students with their applications and interview practise, so it’s worth checking out their websites or dropping them an email to see if they can help you.
The competitiveness of the process can be overwhelming and can make you doubt yourself, but more than anything I found that at interviews and open days other applicants were just as friendly and nervous as I was. I always tried not to view the other applicants as competition, instead just focusing on myself, and how I could give the most accurate (and flattering of course) reflection of me.
Ultimately, try to enjoy the experience, and if it becomes stressful, take a step back and remember why you first started.