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Settling into Oxford as a State School Student

By Charlotte Lawton

Everyone is aware of Oxford’s reputation for having a high proportion of private school students; between 2010 and 2015, an average of 43% of offers from Oxford went to privately educated students, and even in 2023, 31.4% of the university’s students went to such schools. With such daunting statistics, studying at Oxford can seem like a distant, unlikely dream for many state school students, and even for those who succeed in getting here it can be an intimidating prospect. However, hopefully I’ll be able to reassure you that the Oxford stereotype certainly does not reflect reality, and every state school student can find their place here!

To tell the truth, during my first few weeks here I did find it hard to find other students from state schools – it seemed like everyone I asked had gone to a private school! Fortunately, there are loads of great ways to meet people from similar backgrounds at Oxford. The main one for state school students is definitely the 93% Club ( 93% representing the proportion of students across the country who are state school educated). They organise social events every week throughout term, from bar crawls to pub quizzes, and they even have a big winter party! These are open to students across the university, so it’s also a great opportunity to meet people from other colleges too.

There are also schemes within individual colleges to bring state school students together. Most colleges have an inreach officer, usually an older student, who will organise regular events for undergraduate students from state schools. You can also join Class Act, a campaign run by the Student Union, which represents students from non-traditional Oxford backgrounds. Within your college you can even sign up to have a Class Act college parent, meaning you’ll be paired up with a second-year student with a similar background who can answer any questions as you settle into Oxford life!

It’s completely understandable to find Oxford a bit intimidating and to worry that you won’t be able to find a place here because you’re a state school student, but all these different organisations within the university reassure you that you are absolutely not alone, and they make the transition to uni life so much easier. At the end of the day, where you went to school doesn’t make the world of difference – Oxford life is an amazing opportunity to meet lots of lovely people from a diverse range of backgrounds, and wherever you come from, you will absolutely make new friends who make you feel at home! 

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