By Ella Street
Despite applying to Oxford from a Northern state school, I still felt supported in my application to Oxford from my school and my family. Yet my experience on Oxford UNIQ when I was in Year 12 was definitely the main reason that I applied in the first place, as it gave me the confidence to apply as well as giving me invaluable resources to aid my Oxford application.
UNIQ gives state school students the opportunity to experience life as an Oxford student, either through a free summer school in Oxford in spring/summer or through UNIQ digital which gives guidance on applying to higher universities through an online community. I experienced UNIQ on one of the spring residentials where I got to stay in a college, experience a taster lecture and tutorial, as well as explore the city through activities like a scavenger hunt. All of these activities combined confirmed to me that I wanted to apply for Oxford, and introduced me to the tutorial style of teaching at Oxford which was what drew me to apply. Then on the following day interview, personal statement and admissions test workshops helped me put my dream of Oxford into practise. Personally, I found the workshop debunking myths about the interview process, the most beneficial for my application as it demonstrated to me how interviews work more like a conversation between people who both love their subject rather than terrifying interrogations - which was what I expected! I remember waiting outside my first interview for Oxford and being so grateful in that moment for the advice I got at UNIQ as it allowed me to remain calm and actually enjoy parts of the interview process.
Attending UNIQ - or any summer school - also is a fantastic thing to mention in your personal statement regardless of what universities you end up applying to, as it shows a commitment outside your normal studies to explore your subject, which is a key aspect to build into your personal statement. Any example lecture or tutorial from UNIQ, or even a book mentioned by a tutor that interested you - that you have later read - is a perfect example to build into your application.
If you’re eligible to apply for UNIQ I would recommend it without a doubt as it not only made me feel a lot more comfortable with the Oxford application process, but was also an incredibly exciting experience, where I met people that I’m still friends with today.