By Sophie Gregson
From the beginning of college, I had always dreamed of being accepted into Oxford University. However, coming from a state school background in the north of England, I saw Oxford as beyond my reach, and a place that wasn’t meant for someone like me.
There are so many stereotypes associated with Oxford University. I know people from my college that didn’t apply to Oxford purely because of these stereotypes. I too was nervous to apply, because the way that Oxford is portrayed made it appear to be a place I wouldn’t fit into. Even when I received my offer, I had this fear that I would not be accepted and would not enjoy my time there.
Entering my second year, I cannot believe how different Oxford is to how I imagined. Here are just a few of the myths that I had before I came, and what I think now.
Oxford is only for private school, middle class backgrounds: This was the recurring myth that I was told before I applied to Oxford. Luckily, I went to a very supportive college that encouraged me otherwise, but I know plenty of people who refrained from applying for this very reason. Despite my background, I do not feel out of place at Oxford University. Many of my friends are also northern, or went to state schools nationwide, and this does not disadvantage us at all. Oxford welcomes people from a range of cultural and economic backgrounds and I hope that anyone reading this who is scared of feeling like an imposter at Oxford know that they are not alone, and the reality is so different to the stereotypes.
All you do is work, there is no time for social activities: It is true that you get a heavy workload at Oxford, probably more than the workload given to your friends at other universities, but it is not true that you have no time for other things. I am a member of the Oxford Dance Society, and aside from that I also find time to see friends, go shopping, exercise and do things unrelated to my academic work. There are also several club nights a week, as well as other nightly activities such as college karaoke, pub quizzes or open mic nights. As long as you spend enough time ensuring that you get your work done as a priority, and you manage your time effectively, you’ll find there is so much time to do all of the ‘normal’ things that your friends at other universities get to do.
It is too expensive to study at Oxford: Whilst Oxford city centre may be expensive in comparison to other UK cities, studying at Oxford is not necessarily more expensive than other universities. Tuition fees are the same price, and college subsidises meals making them more affordable than elsewhere. The libraries are all well stocked, meaning you very rarely have to spend money on books and academic materials. However, if you do require economic support, Oxford has a range of financial bursaries to ensure that regardless of your economic background, this is not a limitation on you applying to Oxford.
I hope that this post has helped people who may have their offers, or are considering applying, and comfort them in knowing that Oxford is not at all like it is perceived to be, and regardless of your background, you are worthy of a place here!