If you’ve just been through the process of applying to Oxford and Cambridge, you don’t need anyone to tell you that it requires a great deal of hard work and personal investment. As we all know, for many things in life, the key to success is proactivity, passion and perspicacity…although there are, alas, no guarantees. And Oxbridge is no different.
So… what do you do if you really love your subject, you’ve worked hard, done well in your Admissions Test and prepared for you interview, but you’ve just found out that you have not been offered a place?
Not getting the place you wanted at Oxbridge is really difficult. Competition is incredibly tough and gets tougher every year. And there’s a simple fact, that with the number of places available at the two universities remaining static, there simply are not enough places for all applicants who potentially deserve them.
This year, thousands of intelligent, hard-working and passionate Oxbridge applicants who have excelled in everything they’ve ever done did not receive places. And so, for them, what next?
The first thing to say is that applicants who don’t get offers from Oxbridge still end up at fantastic universities. They go on to get top jobs with top graduate employers or carry on academic research at their own university, Oxbridge or in the US. However, there may still be some people wanting to have another go at Oxbridge. So what should you be considering before you decide to reapply?
You should bear in mind that some of the other universities that you have applied to may not take too kindly to you turning down their offer this year and then reapplying next year. We have heard of some really strong applicants who were unsuccessful when they reapplied to one of the top universities that had offered them a place the year before. If you’ve secured offers from one of the country’s top universities, think very carefully before you give up your place to reapply, as you may find that these doors are closed to you the next time. If you’re anything like me, you probably applied to all the universities you wanted to go to first time, in which case you might find you have a limited choice second time round.
If you do want to reapply to Oxford or Cambridge, it is really important to consider what you are going to do on your gap year and what Oxford and Cambridge’s attitude to gap years for your chosen subject is. Colleges tend not to like mathematicians taking a year out as they are worried that applicants might lose their focus. The same goes to a certain extent with Physics and Physical Natural Sciences, although tutors do look more kindly on applicants who have kept up their subject through some kind of work experience or laboratory assistant internship. If you’re applying for a modern language, it would be great to spend some time in the target language country, either working or studying and work experience relating to any subject is always productive. Interesting gap year plans may make you stand out from the crowd and show that you really do have a continuing interest in your subject. Before you make the decision, however, it would be good to check with the university admissions office as well as doing some research into the attitudes of the various colleges.
Applications to Oxford and Cambridge are increasing by about 10% each year each year. It may be that when Cambridge releases their application statistics for 2018 we’ll see that the increase in applications was far greater this year than previously. Although admission to Oxford and Cambridge does get tougher every year, if you can put in a stronger application, then you may still be at an advantage. Remember that applicants are still being awarded places even as it gets more competitive, so you shouldn’t feel that your chances are hopeless.
Probably the most important thing to consider is the effect another application to Oxford or Cambridge will have on you. As you know from last year, it can be very hard work and will demand quite a lot of personal investment. Whilst it is important to stay positive about your application (and you should be – we worked with a lot of successful re-applicants last year), you should consider how you’ll feel this time next year if you are not offered a place.
If you do want to reapply to Oxbridge, it is worth trying to gather as much information about your application last year as possible. Oxbridge will send your school feedback from your application, so ask your teachers if they will go through it with you to see what you can be working on. It can be difficult to get detailed feedback from Oxford and Cambridge, largely because they have so many applicants each year, but if you felt you got on particularly well with one of your interviewers, you could try to get in touch with them directly to ask their advice.
And if you’re still thinking about reapplying and you have more questions you would like answered, you can always speak to one of the consultants for free at Oxbridge Applications. Just give us a call on +44(0)20 7499 2394 and we’ll be happy to chat things through with you.