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Thinking About Applying to Oxford?

By Leia Ransley

So, you’ve started thinking about applying to Oxford, how exciting! But what things should you actually be thinking about? Here is hopefully a good place to start:

What course do you actually want to do?

Oxford offers such a wide range of courses, and some really interesting joint honours, so it might be worth exploring the course content. You don’t have to apply for the exact same course everywhere, so if you’re not certain, don’t commit yourself to applying to one course before you explore what else is on offer!

Even those courses that have the same name are taught and run quite differently here in comparison to other universities, which is worth considering – you might love the subject, but not want to learn it in the way it’s taught here, which is completely ok!

Why that specific course at Oxford?

You don’t have to have all the answers, but if you haven’t thought about this, then it’s worth doing so! There’s got to be a reason that you want to study your subject for a start (and passion for this is so immensely important!), and there’s probably also one that contributes to why you want to study it in the way that Oxford teaches it, or surrounded by the resources that Oxford offers. This is really useful to have in mind, particularly for interviews, but it’ll also influence how you come across in your personal statement!

The big question: what college do you want to attend?

Of course, you are not guaranteed to get into the college you apply to, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t apply to a specific one!

Things to think about:

  • The important things: does the college offer the subject you want to apply for? Not every college offers every subject, and some may only offer 1 or 2 places, which might contribute to your decision.

  • What does it look like? You might be wanting old architecture, or something more modern; multiple quads or one central space – so this is worth considering!

  • Food – if it is catered (likely), how does this run? For example, my college doesn’t provide food on weekends and doesn’t do breakfast every morning, which is something that might affect your decision!

  • Location! Not just where it is in Oxford, but how far from, for example, your faculty building or maybe how far to clubs or pubs, or how close to a good supermarket.

  • Accommodation – do they offer it for all years? If not, would you be comfortable organising your own accommodation?

  • The facilities stuff: does it have a gym or provide gym access off-site? What are the study spaces like? What does the library hold and what opening hours does it have?

Of course, if you can come down to Oxford for one of the Open Days, this is a great opportunity to talk to current staff and students about your subject, colleges, and any other questions you may have about university/college life. Even if you can’t, there will always be contacts on college or faculty websites that you can get in touch with!


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