By Grace Walters
One of the most rewarding extracurricular activities you can do is getting involved in access and outreach. There are just so many ways to do it, too, that mean it can be entirely tailored to your schedule - it’s not a fixed commitment, so you could do it quite frequently at the start of the term, and still be free to do less when you need to slow down later on. Here’s some advice I’ve learned from being involved in access!
Consider whether you can join your JCR or MCR executive committee, in the equivalent ‘Access Rep’ role (many colleges name it differently). If this doesn’t work out, there are so many committee roles with less commitment, but a lot of possibility for expansion - it’s what you make of it. Lots of people go into committee roles and use their experience and new networks to spread out into other societies.
Contact directly the Schools Liaison Officer at your particular college and ask them directly about any upcoming opportunities to help out. They might suggest a school tour which is coming up, or a blog post they want written, or a talk with some applicants - whatever suits you is best! Also, many Access Reps will email round opportunities, so you can take your pick.
You often have to get a DBS check in order to work with schools, so make sure you bring your passport to university, so that you can conduct the call where you show it in your hand.
Consider LinkedIn as a great resource to find opportunities! As well as this, your JCR or MCR Facebook page will often be listed with others; although often you have to sift through quite a lot of posts.
Finding online resources or blogs such as this one, That Oxford Girl, who produce material that demystifies the university is a great avenue to pursue. You can really express your specific experience, writing on the kind of things you would love to read, or else what you would have needed as an applicant.
If you get involved with lots of different societies and schemes, make sure to keep a CV-like list of them all. It can be so useful for applications, as you come pre-loaded with experience and skills. In summary, don't underestimate how good outreach experience looks on an application!
Finally, I would reiterate that it is genuinely such a rewarding pursuit. Mentoring applicants who are in the position I was in just a few years earlier is so grounding - Oxford can feel quite overwhelming at times, so it's really lovely to remind yourself just how much it means to the people who apply. If you can find an opportunity, definitely go for it!