More tips from Alice on her experience of Reapplying to Oxford - check out Part 1, if you missed it!
4. You will introspect massively over the next few months.
This is a blessing, your peers who have got in probably have no idea why they got in. Use this disappointing news to reflect on changes you want to make in your life: new activities you want to focus on and new clubs you might want to join at university. This is not to say you were not offered a place because of X, Y, Z all I want to say is that you should view this is as a chance to re-evaluate your goals. For me this was a chance to re-realise my love for reading whilst I must admit I still have not read James Joyce’ Ulysses, I have improved my ability to discuss literature. Ali Abdaal’s advice is to diversify your identity by trying out new hobbies.
5. You need to find your next new loves
Oxford was likely your first love, but as with anything it is your first of many…Look at the other brilliant universities on your list, you chose them for a reason. Write out a physical list of the great things about these universities, look at the societies they offer, the location and perhaps look on tiktok to get a sense of the nightlife. I promise you they can offer you opportunities that perhaps Oxford could not have even provided, for example more nights out and perhaps more lively ones. Moreover, you will have more time physically at the other universities, 11-week terms rather than 8-week terms allow you to have days off! For me a big draw of Oxford was the netball club, little did I know almost every university offers these. Find your niche goal, how would you advance/ contribute to your field if time and money were no objects? I would want to contribute to English by translating some Old English manuscripts in a more modern way to make them more accessible then they currently are (think Emily Wilson esque translation). The realisation that I could do this feasibly at ANY university helped me to deal with the news last year.
6. Decide whether you want to reapply.
Remember that a masters at Oxford is as impressive as an undergraduate degree, in some ways a postgraduate degree is more impressive because it shows you can work independently in a high-pressured environment. Spending a few years at another university will give you a fresh perspective and extra connections.
Reapplying will require the same determination, hard work and curiosity that you demonstrated this year and at times it will feel like you are fighting an uphill battle. The main reason reapplicants cite as ‘why they got in a second time around’ is that they view the interview as less scary. Rather than viewing it as a verbal test a second time around it seems like a conversation with a new teacher. Furthermore, reapplicants are on average more successful than first-time applicants.
Whilst the prospect of possibly getting into Oxford may seem worthwhile, think of other activities to fill your gap year with so you are not as disappointed if it does not work out for you. At school you are placed in this ‘bubble’ (gosh that has a different meaning now, thank you 2020) where Oxford is viewed as the ultimate goal, use this time to expand your horizon and you will see that whilst a note-worthy achievement it is in reality it is a tiny drop in the sea. Those at Oxford often need the discipline of being set an essay each week to engage with their subject. YOU reading this are a self-motivated individual who will benefit from having more choice in what they want to explore each week.
7. At the end of the day the only limit to your success is YOU, NOT the rejections you receive.
YOU can still work on wall street or afford that 1-million-pound yellow house in Chelsea with a degree from any university if you continue to be as determined, fearless and resilient as you have been these past 5 months! If you don’t believe me look on the Wikipedia page of your favourite music artist, favourite actor and favourite author. I guarantee you they are still ‘successful’ not because of any ‘Oxbridge degree’ or where they studied but because of sheer hard-work and effort. YOU define your path and no one can take that away from YOU. Look forward with your held up high because YOU are going to do ground breaking things. I can’t wait to read YOUR Wikipedia page someday…