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Open Offer? Pooled? Random College? - What do these mean?

By Boston Wyatt

'What is an ‘open offer’?'

'I've been ‘pooled’'

'My offer is from a totally random college!'

I hope to dispel and define all of these confusing things. Also, I hope tell you about my extremely weird arrival in Oxford and why you should be proud of an Oxford offer no matter where it is from!

What is an open offer?

An open offer, providing you meet you grades, means you will be allocated to any potential college that does your subject on results day with a space.

But what does this mean?

It means, the university thinks you are good enough, your subject thinks you are good enough and so good you a guaranteed a place anywhere in the university. You may think this means a rejection from your college – it absolutely does not! What it does mean is they loved you, but tutors can only give out so many offers, and they thought you as a candidate were strong enough to give you a guaranteed place at the university anywhere. It’s almost like all the colleges want you and may have you! A lot of my friends ended up at their UCAS choice college, some ended up at a college the direct opposite end of town… it can be totally random – but it is something to be excited about.


You will have probably experienced this during interviews. Pooling is a system whereby after or even before your original interview if they have a lack of applicants at a college and you are a strong applicant you will be re-allocated. During interview, you may be pooled to interview elsewhere as a quality control candidate or even because the college you applied to wanted you but didn’t have space. What if you got pooled on results day and you have a completely random campus as your offer! Well! Congratulations, you were seen as such a strong candidate across the board by another college that they almost had a fight over you as to who could offer. Pooling is a bit random, but once again it is something to be excited about. Be proud that more than one set of tutors interviewed you, saw you as impressive and wanted you!

A random college?

This happened to me! So, my story goes. I applied to Oriel! I loved Oriel particularly due to the Law tutors being experts in my specific law subject interests. I was so excited I received my offer to interview from Oriel! Interviews were nerve wracking, but they were soon over with. I wasn’t pooled at interview. January came around and I received my offer from Oriel! I was so excited to get an offer from the college I applied to. Like I said, I loved Oriel!

Then results day came around… a really weird thing happened. When I opened UCAS in the morning to accept my offer and get moving into Oriel… something had changed! It said I had an alternative unconditional offer. WHAT ON EARTH DOES THAT MEAN? I’m sharing my experience because this has not happened ever to anyone, I know past and present at Oxford (it probably has… I just don’t know a lot of people)! Campus H, Oriel, changed to campus E. Where was campus E… was this still an Oxford offer… was I still in? So many questions ran through my head. I had a quick google and found Mansfield College. I rang them up eagerly nervous but excited. Yes… I was in! Mansfield not Oriel but I was in. I won’t lie, I was saddened I had certainly become attached to Oriel, but I had got into Oxford and I was going to get my degree… so I decided to stay optimistic. I am so glad I did! Mansfield is an incredible place! I love it! I envy Oriel slightly, but I am still lectured by the tutors there and perhaps ironically the tutors at Mansfield I had included in my personal statement. It is 100% my fit and I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else. Also… it is so close to the faculty, so I get a lay-in!

If you see those three famous words on 14th...‘YOU GOT IN!’ well congratulations!

1 Comment

Unknown member
Feb 08, 2020

Thank you for writing this. My son has an open offer underwritten by Worcester college ( which he didn’t even interview at!) he was also reallocated prior to interview. So it’s been a magical mystery tour and we still don’t know exactly where he’s going to end up! I’m hoping for Somerville ( his first choice) or Worcester ( my first choice, ha!) but this is a lesson in non attachment and that you can get to love anywhere you go.

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