Oxford and Cambridge are world renowned universities, continually producing top-class graduates who are responsible for some of the greatest advances in science and technology, the most influential literature and crucial political and economic decisions. Recently, it was reported that Oxbridge graduates make up over two thirds of the top professional fields. However, this does not mean that Oxbridge is the right path for everyone. Many students are bright and devoted enough to cope with the workload at Oxbridge, but there are several questions one must consider before filling out that UCAS form.
Does Oxbridge offer the course I want?
Oxford and Cambridge tend to offer fairly traditional courses – and there is not that much flexibility in terms of mixing different subjects together. Some subjects that you might want to do are not offered at Oxbridge at all – and some subjects are actually ranked much more highly at other universities. Modern Languages at both Oxford and Cambridge are quite literature based – if you’re more interested in learning about the language and the modern day culture, the Oxbridge courses may not be the right choice for you. The Medicine course at both Oxford and Cambridge is very theoretical – at the end of your three year pre-clinical degree, you may not have met a single patient! This suits some Medicine applicants, but others find it quite frustrating as it is so much more about the science than it is about helping patients. Make sure you do your research so that you know whether Oxford or Cambridge has the right course for you before you apply.
Do I have the right grades to apply?
Oxford and Cambridge are notoriously competitive (and are growing more competitive each year, sadly). Even if you are predicted the grades that you are required, you need to have excellent GCSE results as well as top module grades when you apply to Cambridge. If you’re not sure whether you have the right grades to make a successful application, get in touch and we will do our best to answer your questions.
Would I enjoy learning in the tutorial/supervision system?
The thing that separates Oxford and Cambridge from the rest of the universities in the UK – and even in the world – is in the way that undergraduates are taught. Whilst at other universities, the majority of teaching happens in lectures with smaller classes taught in Seminars, at Oxford and Cambridge, undergraduates have regular (weekly or twice weekly) meetings called tutorials or supervisions with just them and their tutor – or possible with another student too. Students have to prepare work for these meetings, which is then discussed and the ideas are developed. This means that there is regular contact with your tutor, but the majority of your learning is independent. Some people love this style of learning, but some hate it – work out how you would feel about learning in this style and whether you would enjoy Oxford or Cambridge.
Do I really love my subject?
Another important question to ask yourself – Oxford and Cambridge requires students to work fairly intensely at their subjects. There is a lot of work to do during the 8 week terms, and for many subjects, students are expected to use their long holidays to continue studying for their next term. There is also less flexibility (at Oxford in particular) when it comes to changing to a different course, or diversifying your course with off-syllabus topics. The going will get tough, so you need to really enjoy learning about your subject, otherwise you are likely not to enjoy your time at university fully and may even risk drop out. If the answer to all four questions is yes, then go for it! If you’re still not sure whether applying to Oxford or Cambridge would be the right decision for you, then give us a call on 0207 499 2394. We all made this very decision a few years ago – so we may be able to help you out with yours.