By Alice Marks
I tried to hold in my tears as I saw the words ‘unsuccessful’ in bold on that all too familiar UCAS website- the one I had been refreshing for the past 2 hours. Meanwhile, a friend of mine on the other side of the table had just received her offer. My first thought was why not me? Am I not good enough?
A year on, now an offer holder hopefully joining Oxford in October, this is what I would tell my naive younger self and advice I want to share with you whether last Tuesday brought you tears or led you into a wormhole of exploring the infamous ‘Oxtok’ or ‘Oxford tik-tok’ …
1. Be kind to yourself
This is undoubtedly not what you wanted to wake up to this morning so do whatever you want to make peace with it and understand it is a several step process. You will inevitably go through a cycle of sadness, acceptance and eventually happiness in the next few weeks. Allow yourself to take the day off A-Level preparation, you deserve it. You have worked incredibly hard over the past few months from chasing teachers to write your references to working diligently to replace ‘passion’ with ‘interest’ on your personal statement.
If you are anything like me you have probably spent your nose in Kafka’s Metamorphosis for several weeks before the interview- this requires extreme mental stamina. Take some time to celebrate that and understand that your preparation will stand you in good stead for your exams or ‘assessments’ (whatever the new norm is nowadays) and university.
2. Use that gut-wrenching feel to fuel you towards some other goal.
My immediate thought when receiving that slightly disappointing email was I’ve wasted all that time when I could have been revising for A-Levels. I couldn’t have been more wrong, all the effort I put into language work, critiquing literature and perfecting essays will differentiate you from the other candidates this summer.
3. Once you have accepted that there is an element of ‘luck’ in the application process apply for feedback if YOU want to.
Applying for feedback can seem daunting, you may feel as if you have fostered a slightly odd relationship with your admissions tutor, but remember it is a friendly face behind that email. Just a heads up, the feedback you will receive may be slightly vague and maybe not give you tips on how to improve, so please do not read too much into it. Oxford has to send thousands of these out within a month. YOU are so much more than 2 sentences next to a college crest! If you are looking for tips speak to your teachers, they know more about you than any Oxford tutor who has spent 25 mins talking to you will know. BUT refrain from the mindset of I did not get in because X, Y, Z ultimately there is a very very fine line between ‘unsuccessful’ and ‘successful’ and as someone who has seen both sides of the coin, I can tell you- YOU will go on to do GROUNDBREAKING THINGS!
More to come!