Leah's Journey to Oxford

By Leah Aspden


My name is Leah and my story isn’t particularly earth shattering, but I think it serves as a good example that hard work really does pay off, regardless of life circumstances. I come from a little village near Burnley, Lancashire and I serve Ted Robbins from the Slammer breakfast every Sunday, fun fact. My mum had me at 16 and so I’ve always felt a certain pressure to make her proud and make my birth worthwhile for her. I’ve had my fair share of anxiety and depression as a result, which is why when being told not to apply for Oxford because ‘my grades weren’t good enough’ and I wasn’t ‘mentally robust enough’ I decided I’d had enough, did exactly the opposite and went for it. My GCSEs weren’t astounding, and I’ve never been the top of the class, but I worked and worked. I was tutored into a grammar school which was strictly grade orientated and decided after 5 years I’d had enough so I applied last minute to a state-run college two bus rides away and it was the best decision I’ve ever made.


I’d never actually thought about Oxford until I went to visit my ex-boyfriend there for the first time and the minute that I stepped off the train it was like a film; it just felt like home. At first, I tried to shake this feeling, but I’d started doing so much research that I was excited at the possibility of this dream being my reality. I went to visit other universities like Leeds, Durham, Lancaster; they were all great, but I never felt the magic like I did with Oxford.


I set off on my application journey in May 2019, and decided I was going to study either German Sole, or English and German (I later decided on the latter). I studied English, History and German at A-Level and Oxford’s course just seemed perfect to me (I really wanted to study medieval German). You’ll hopefully notice too that I never once thought about Oxford’s prestige and reputation. I just did it because it felt right, and the course was perfect. As well as my personal statement and 2 admissions tests, I had to send off 3 pieces of work so I handpicked my best essays and said to my English teacher ‘I’m going to choose the George Orwell one’ and she said ‘I wouldn’t send any of these to Oxford they aren’t…amazing’. So, I sent the George Orwell one anyway. I did my admissions tests in October and they really didn’t go amazingly but I waited and after weeks of torture and refreshing my emails I received the holy email that read ‘Invitation to interview’.


Leah's interview experience will be in the next post!


If you have any more questions at all about open days, how I chose my college or anything my Instagram is @leah_aspden feel free to DM me or email me at aspdenleah@gmail.com 😊