Before coming to Oxford I had two big preconceptions, the work was going to be impossible and the people were going to be bizarre.
I’ll start with the people, who are brilliant. I don’t think you could go anywhere else and meet the same variety of people as you can in Oxford. Just in my first year I’ve made friends with people from all walks of life and many different countries. The people you meet are just ordinary people, they might come from a different background or have had different experiences of education but much of that is forgotten once you get to university. There is no big emphasis on where you came from and the people I’ve met have been genuinely friendly and sincere.
The workload is definitely a step up from A Level and sometimes it can be a struggle to finish work for a tutorial etc. However, this doesn’t mean that the work is impossible, you can almost always get help from the people on your course or from students in the year above (college parents are great for this!). The biggest difference I found from A Levels to university is the level of independence expected in work, a lot of the learning is self-led, and you need to be disciplined to get things done. It can sometimes be frustrating seeing the amount of work friends at other universities have in a average week but don’t let this get you down, terms are 8 weeks and then you have long breaks to recover!
In short, don’t let your own ideas about the work at Oxford, or fitting into the ‘Oxford type’ stop you from applying. Lots of the things you hear aren’t true or are being constantly looked at for improvement and the work is challenging but entirely doable.