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Applying to Oxford from a state school in Wales

Hi, my name’s Adam and I’m a first year at Lincoln College studying Chemistry. For my first blog post as a “That Oxford Girl” student ambassador I thought I’d talk a bit about my experience of applying to Oxford.

I went to a state school in North Wales and was the only person in my year to receive an offer from Oxford. This was already daunting as I knew I’d be starting university on my own and would need to build up a whole new network of friends. I was worried that I wouldn’t fit in because I went to state school, or that this would put me at a disadvantage in the application process.

First, I’ll address the worry about making friends; the kind of school you went to isn’t a big deal. What really matters is that you were able to get through the tough application process and meet your offer. There are people who may have gone to schools which send lots of students to Oxford every year and so already have friends when they arrive, but I’ve found that they quickly branch out and make new friends, just like everyone else. So, going to a state school doesn’t affect your chances of making friends at all.

What about applying then? Surely it’s a disadvantage to go to a state school?

Well that’s not necessarily the case either, there’s much more being done to ensure that the best students are given a fair chance at getting in. One thing that really helped me was the Seren Network. This is a Welsh government scheme aimed at increasing the number of Welsh students attending top UK universities. The Seren Network was such a valuable resource to me, it was particularly useful when I was deciding where to apply and which universities to consider. We were given information from alumni of various Russel Group universities about what life was like there. The network was also great for personal statement tips and information about the daunting Oxford/Cambridge interviews! We even got to spend a few nights at Magdalene college in Cambridge in year 12, this really helped me decide that I wanted to apply to Oxbridge. Being part of the network helped to calm some of my nerves and shed some light on how interviews and the application process work. I also developed some ideas about my studies by discussing different topics with other people at the monthly network meetings.

If you’re a Welsh student, like me, and get the chance to be involved with the Seren project with your school then make the most of it, it’s a great resource!

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