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My Journey to Oxford

I thought that my journey to Oxford, upon first coming here, was unique. I went to a sixth form where, for the majority of students, university is not their natural path (my school has sent 8 students to Oxford in the past 6 years). As a result, the response I got when I told my teachers that I was thinking of applying to Oxford was mixed. Many of my teachers were supportive - especially after I had returned from Oxford UNIQ having had an amazing time and wanting more - but the Head Teacher of my Sixth Form was not quite so enthusiastic. He told me, when I showed interest in Oxford, ‘not to get my hopes up’. Rather than this deterring me from applying, it actually made me more determined to prove him wrong - but it was always in the back of my mind that perhaps Oxford was not the right place for me.

I come from a family who have always supported me, but of my close and extended family, I am the only one who has shown an interesting in taking the University route. This meant me having to explain my choice to continue to study quite frequently, as well as my subject choice: “Caitlin… what can you actually do with a history degree?” was a common question I had to answer before I started.

After getting here, I realised that most people who came from a background like mine experienced similar doubts and queries about their choice to study at Oxford. From teachers, and family alike, I have heard that students have been made to question whether Oxford is the best place for them - either out of fear that they will not fit in or that the pressure will be too much for someone who went to a state-comprehensive school. Although it is encouraging to hear that I was not the only one who experienced attempted dissuasion from their friends and teachers who had such a negative perception of Oxford, I was sad to hear that so many people were made to doubt their choice. I also thought about how many more students there would be like us if this image of Oxford was not forced upon them...

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