For the last three months – if not longer – you’ve had Oxbridge on your mind. You’ve been reading up on your subject, crafting your personal statement, picking your college, gearing yourself up to answer tricky interview questions, frantically scanning the broadsheets for ‘current affairs’ and, hopefully, finding some useful information on our website and our blog. But now that you’ve had your interview, what happens next?
After the interview
You’ve been sent home/allowed to go free from Oxford or Cambridge with only memories of your answers to the questions to keep you company. First of all, don’t go over your interview performance in your head – you really won’t get any clues as to whether you are going to get an offer. Take it from one Oxford PPE graduate, who left his interviewers with the question ‘am I allowed to play football on the quad?’ – even if you think you’ve said something really stupid, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve blown your chance.
For Oxford, offers and rejections will be sent out when the interview period is complete – (although you may have to wait a little bit longer if yours was one of the last interviews). For Cambridge, I’m afraid you’ll need to wait until the New Year – and even then you might find that you have been put in the Winter Pool.
When you get your letter
This is a really exciting time – although sadly, because both universities have a limited number of places and are inundated with many more excellent applicants than they can possibly accept, a lot of people will be disappointed.
If it is a no, please don’t think that this is a reflection of your intelligence or your ability. As with most things in life, very unfairly, being accepted to read your subject at Oxford and Cambridge has quite a lot to do with luck: whether you clicked with your interviewer and whether you were the person they were looking for that year. If you didn’t get it, you’ll end up at another top university and have a brilliant time there.
If it’s a yes – congratulations, however don’t rest on your laurels: you now have to meet that offer (which might contain an A* or two) so you need to keep you the hard work – which will continue when you are there.
Can you appeal their decision?
I’m afraid not. Even if you think that it is grossly unfair, the way that the university allocates places, means that there is almost no chance that the decision can be changed. If you do have a formal complaint that you wish to make, you should go through your school, as Oxford or Cambridge needs to see that you have their support. You can ask for feedback from the college that interviewed you, again through the channel of your school. Again, because there is often very little but a personal connection to distinguish between very able applicants, your feedback as to why you were not selected may be quite vague and not particularly helpful.
Reapplying next year
You may come out of this thinking that you made some wrong decisions – be it on the course, college, university or the amount of work that you did in preparation. Or you might feel that you just have to give it another shot.
We’ve advised lots of students in the same position – some of them holding offers from top universities that they will have to give up. It can help to get a second opinion and we’ll always give you our honest advice. Give us a call if you would like to discuss reapplying when your results come in.