Prithu attended Jesus College, Oxford from 2010-2014
I applied for Engineering Sciences.
I studied Physics, Chemistry, Maths, Further Maths. Barring Chemistry, all of the subjects were compulsory for an application for Engineering.
They were difficult, because the questions weren’t ones that I could answer in one word, or by using just one equation. They were longer questions that often took about ten minutes to answer, and they would often take detours and digress on what we were talking about to ask about other related equations and topics. My second interview at Wadham College was definitely harder than my first at Jesus, and I think it’s because they focused on the elements of Physics that I was weaker at.
I found that covering the range of material needed for an Oxford application was the hardest thing. I knew that for Engineering, they could feasibly ask anything from either my Physics course, or anything from my Maths course, and that I was expected to not only be comfortable with it, but also be able to deal with advanced versions of those topics. I always felt under-prepared, as if there was always something else that I could/ should have revised.
I quite liked writing the personal statement—it was interesting to see it change over multiple iterations.
Engineering students have to have a lot more contact time per week than arts or humanities subjects like History or Geography. My first year week required us to have two lectures a day, every day from Monday to Friday, with additional labs on Monday which would run from 11am to 5pm. Each week also had two tutorials as set by our college tutors. Each tutorial sheet is meant to take 10 hours to complete, and they would effectively leave it up to you to decide when you would complete the sheet by, as long as it was done for the day. This was a lot less spoon fed than some other universities, which meant that there was a lot of pressure on you to be on top of time management and organization.
This isn’t to say that Oxford was purely work. Wednesday afternoons across the university were left free for sports, and I would spend my Michaelmas term playing football for Jesus College, and Trinity term playing cricket. I would also play hockey for Jesus on Saturdays and tennis whenever the matches were scheduled.
The biggest thing that I would take away from my academic experience at Oxford was the ability to be given a task and somehow get it done. There were often times that we had a ridiculous amount of work due in, or we were given work to do with very little preamble, and sometimes, we even had tutorial sheets that needed to be completed before we had even learnt the entirety of that subject through lectures, and Oxford’s teaching technique meant that I (and my friends) learnt to simply find a way of getting it finished. Some of the academic opportunities that I got at Oxford were amazing, and I know that I would not have been able to have them elsewhere; a 3rd Year Project meant that we were flown out to CERN to present to scientists who worked on the LHC, and I also took a Chemistry-based mini project that meant that I was awarded marks for making beer.
I was lucky enough to go to Jesus, which was an incredibly social college, and one that was hugely tight knit. There were a lot of college events that bonded us, from termly bops to the annual dinner dance to grouping together to go to balls throughout the year. I managed to play in four different teams for Jesus College, which was a great way of relaxing after work.
Outside of the college, there were so many other experiences that I was able to be a part of. Oxford has an amazing drama scene, with far more range in size, topic and style than many other universities, and I tried to be in at least one student drama production every term (barring Trinity term, because of exams).
I wish that someone had told me about the societies and opportunities available in Oxford before I joined; I felt that I coasted through first a year a little bit without getting involved in too many things, when I could have done more.
The other thing that I would tell people: get a bike, it will save you so much time.