By Chloe Pomfret
Upon receiving my Oxford offer I was overjoyed, but also confused. Attached to the acceptance email was a leaflet about a mandatory programme: Opportunity Oxford. OppOx isn’t a scheme you apply for, rather you are selected based on several contributing factors, aiming to get the most deserving and underprivileged offer holders involved. For all the leaflets, emails, and welcome days, I was still left confused about what the programme entailed. Via this article, I hope to demystify Opportunity Oxford.
The first major component of the programme is the online work, set over the summer. Here, you are given your own log-in to Oxford’s online platform Canva and are provided with tasks to complete in 2 months, receiving feedback on these. After attempting these tasks, I was ready to abandon my Oxford offer and to head off to Newcastle Uni in September instead … they aren’t for the faint hearted. Such tasks included: summarising articles to make notes on ATPase, writing 2,000 word essays, and deconstructing diagrams of bioluminescent assays. Whilst difficult, they gave me insight of how I would approach work in October and reflect on changes I should make from tutors’ feedback.
The second component of OppOx is the residential, which approximately 200 people attend post results day. Staying in one of Oxford’s colleges for 2 weeks, you get to experience Oxford social life, explore the city before all other students arrive and, of course, will be working. During the 2 weeks, we had lectures each day to attend, and in the final week, I was set an essay to complete for a tutorial I’d attend on the last day. Whilst the lectures weren’t relevant to the essay, it was interesting to see what lectures would be like and to learn about some new concepts.
Our ambassadors were a brilliant source of support and answered all our questions… no matter how ridiculous they were. Oxford funded our accommodation, travel, food and paid for our social activities like punting, junkyard golf and ice skating. We were given freedom after our lectures, participating in social activities arranged by ambassadors, sightseeing the Oxford colleges, and of course, spending our time in Oxford’s cursed clubs like Atik, Plush and Bridge. There was also a huge fair on during the 1st week which we all went to together! Oxford also gave us a generous bursary of £475 to cover any food or social costs, and to make up for any money we’d miss from not being at work. At the end of the 1st week, we attended a formal with another college doing Opportunity Oxford, since we were split into 6 groups based on course, then at the end of the programme, all of us came together for a huge formal at Keble with our tutors.
OppOx gave me many brilliant memories, with this time being the most incredible experience I’ve had since being in Oxford. The most rewarding thing about it is the friends made on the programme. My OppOx friends are 100% my best friends, with 3 of them being my college wives, and we are all still in contact today!