By Grace Walters
The first couple weeks of January when you’re waiting on Oxford decisions can, unfortunately, mean you’re starting a new year off with a nerve-wracking day looming ahead. Luckily, though, so many of the negative feelings associated with it can be alleviated! Much of why it feels so stressful is the idea that it will ‘all go to waste’. That was the expression that I remember running round my head constantly, and it’s the same thing I feel when I get rejected from any scheme or job application to this day. In reality, though, hindsight always helps with these darker situations. I tend to look back and realize that the time I spent preparing was good practice, and it always makes the next round of applications far easier. Of course, I appreciate this is the standard, slightly clichéd reassurance, but it really is true in my experience.
Something a little more unconventional to do is to sit down and properly cast your mind on the worst-case scenario. For me, that would be not getting in, and the idea of ending up at a university where I wouldn’t get the same experience. So, to counteract this, I first got a pen and paper and wrote down a back-up plan: for me, this involved the idea of a gap year and reapplying the year afterwards, hopefully with some more experience and wider reading under my belt to ensure improvements. I would have spent the free time working, and saving up money to tick some travel locations off my mental list over the summer. I made the ‘second option’ as fleshed out and appealing as I could, so that the cloud that had previously hung over it dissipated as much as possible. Having a back-up plan really is reassuring - and it can resemble anything you like. Maybe for you that means looking more into your insurance university, making a cool photo edit of all the pretty locations, or watching YouTube videos about the campus.
Also, speaking of YouTube, there are a lot of testimonials online of students who were rejected from Oxford and how they dealt with it, and what amazing things they did afterwards instead. It’s very heartening, and can normalise rejection to seem, truly, more like ‘redirection’ - which is ultimately what it is!
Best of luck with the wait and please remember that there are so many variables that go into Oxford decisions. Sometimes luck and random factors play a part, and it is not a reflection of your intelligence, or something to be discouraged about. You’ll thrive wherever you go, and, in the future, this will all just become a random weekday as the stress fades into a distant memory!