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Dear Fresher Elle...

By Elle Bennett @ellethelawstudent

Being back in Oxford has been a little odd. Despite only finishing my course in June I haven’t stayed in Oxford since November 2020 due to COVID.

Before I begin postgraduate studies in London, this month I am working on a university access programme, Opportunity Oxford, as the Site Manager at Jesus College. The students on the programme will begin their journeys as undergraduate students in October and chatting to them about their apprehensive excitement has reminded me of the whirlwind of my first year at university. This morning, as I sat in a café looking out on to Cornmarket Street, I began to think about what I would tell myself 3 years ago. Then I thought I may as well share it…

Dear Fresher Elle,

Firstly, I want to tell you that you’ll survive! By the middle of Michaelmas 2018 it will seem unlikely that you will remain in Oxford, but you will make the right choice for you and 3 years later, you’ll graduate with a First (?!?!?!) and take London by storm as a postgraduate student.

You’ll find first year tough, but your college family are amazing. In fact, the college sister that you’ve exchanged a couple of awkward Facebook messages with will become your best friend and you’ll wonder quite how you managed without her for the previous 18 years of your life. You don’t just have to rely on your friends. Your tutors are more than happy to help when imposter syndrome strikes, and you feel that there’s no place in Oxford for a northern, comprehensive state educated girl.

You’ll even start to receive support from the Disability Advisory Service, because when you started to be honest about some of the problems you’re facing, the Worcester Welfare Officer will suggest you go to the GP for an assessment, and you’ll reluctantly go and then wonder why you never asked for help earlier.

And when the ‘Oxford bubble’ gets too intense, you just need to hop on a train and go home or to visit your boyfriend in London, because nothing is more important than your health.

Studying Law will make you love it more, despite it being blooming hard. You don’t even really know what Public Law is yet but by second year, with the help of an amazing tutor, you’ll realise that it is the most fascinating subject in the world (to you at least…). Second year is also when you become President of Oxford Women in Law, and that’s pretty cool.

Your days for the next 3 years (albeit with some rather large intervals due to a pandemic, but don’t worry about that yet) will be spent staring out of windows, looking at the spires of Oxford while you ponder on the solution to a problem question or think of the best way to argue your point in an essay. Your evenings will be filled with late night studying/ cooking/ hysterical laughing because you will meet some of the most interesting people you have ever met.

It will be a hard 3 years, but at the end of it, you’ll be stronger, more confident and have found your passion. Just don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Show them what you’re made of.

All my love,

Graduate Elle


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