So you've arrived at Oxford University. The City of Spires is everything that you imagined it would be and more. With its narrow winding streets, breath-taking architecture and abundance of cosy pubs. You have put up your photographs in your room and settled into your new home for the next few years. However, despite keeping up with the never ending reading lists and frantically taking notes in every lecture, you can’t help but feel a little out of place. It is almost as if the sorting hat has put you into the wrong house.
Every time I left a lecture theatre I couldn’t help but think ‘how on earth have I managed to end up here?’. That sense of not belonging is only reinforced when I have to go home and look up the dictionary definitions for half of the words used in today’s seminar. In my first term here at Oxford I was constantly comparing myself to my peers and telling myself that I wasn’t smart enough to be here. I thought that one day someone would notice how out of place I was and that they would call me out for being an imposter. Perhaps that sense of not feeling good enough stemmed from the fact I attended an OFSTED awarded ‘special measures’ state comprehensive school. Or maybe it was because I didn’t live in a huge country manor house in the Cotswold’s or watch polo with the Queen at the weekends.
The funny thing is, almost every single person I have met at this wonderful University has expressed exactly the same feeling ‘Why am I here?’. I have had countless conversations with wide-eyed students saying they don’t know how or why their applications were accepted. So if that’s the case, how did we all get here?
That is when the penny dropped…
I got into Oxford University because I deserve to be here. I got into Oxford University because I worked hard and have a passion for what I want to study. Finally, and most importantly, I got into Oxford University because the University wants me to be here.
Start to recognise your own achievements before comparing yourself to the person sat next to you. In fact, don’t even bother worrying about what they are writing down in the lecture. You are here to bring your own thoughts, opinions and experiences to this city and to form friendships with likeminded, hardworking people. Despite what you might have previously thought, it really doesn’t matter which school you went to or what car your parents drive. Stop doubting your worth and realise that your differences are your strengths that led to your letter of acceptance. Be confident in what you say and do here at Oxford and make the absolute most of your time here. You are not going to want to miss a second of it.