Last Wednesday I spent the evening talking to pupils, from Wales, on the Seren Summer School. Jesus College were very much giving them the 'Oxford Experience'. They stayed in college, ate in the dining hall and had to meet essay deadlines and attend tutorials. Great practice for applying to Oxford!
I thought I'd fill you in here on the sorts of questions I was asked and the answers I gave:
1. Had you romanticised Oxford so much in your head that you got a shock when you got here?
My answer: I first visited Oxord aged 10 with my family and stumbled across a sign outside Balliol College inviting the public to look around. It was at that moment I decided I was going to do everything in my power to get to Oxford University. However, although I saw the city and buildings as the fairy tale experience, I very much understood that Oxford was going to be really hard work and that I was constantly going to be pedalling to keep up. So, although I was unbelievably excited to start, I was also terrified. And it's true, everyone at Oxford has days where they think it's the most magical place and other days when they're super stressed, snowed under with work and feel like they don't deserve to be there. I wouldn't, though, change it for the world, it's still been the best experience ever!
2. How would your experience have differed if you got into Magdalen College, where you applied, instead of Jesus?
My answer: Well although the Oxford colleges have a lot in common, they also have differences. Magdalen was so much bigger than Jesus. At interview my room was in the Deer Park and I used to get lost finding my way back at the end of the day. Jesus, on the other hand, is only small. Overall, I think this suited me better. I loved the sense of community and the fact that I knew everyone as I crossed the quad. Saying that, other people prefer the bigger colleges like Magdalen. There are so many more students to make friends with, the grounds are stunning and some of the accommodation is amazing. Ultimately, everyone ends up thinking that their college is the best!
3. What A Levels did you do?
My answer: History, Politics and English.
4. How do students deal with the stress of Oxford?
My answer: There's no doubt about it, Oxford terms are intense and the stress can get to you. There are though a host of support options available. Every college has a welfare team to help students through difficult and stressful times, they're always there if you want to chat or even just to pop in for a cup of tea. Then there are student welfare reps, if you'd prefer to chat to someone your own age. On arrival, freshers are given college parents in the year above, they know exactly what you're going through and can give you advice on how to handle your first year. Then there's your tutors; if it's the work that's getting to you, then speak to them. They might seem like terrifying superhumans but they are, after all, people and they don't want you to fail. They want you to succeed, so will do their best to support you academically.
If any of you have any questions you'd like to ask, then definitely get in touch!