Before we begin, just a small disclaimer. I absolutely loved my 2 years at sixth form, this blog post details just one negative experience in a sea of amazing ones, and equally concerns only one staff member (who, aside from this, was an incredible person and teacher from whom I learnt so much) in an institution full of great teachers who helped me with so much more than just academics.
I started to think about applying to university around two years ago now, about halfway through year 12, one university in particular caught my eye as I scrolled through the Which? University Guide (a great resource, by the way!) – Oxford, of course. The idea had been in the back of my mind for a while, my sixth form was keen for students to apply so we’d been given information about applying to Oxbridge since the start of the year, so I thought when I told my teacher I wanted to apply, I’d be met with pure encouragement.
I was wrong.
I was told not to bother, essentially, that my predicted grades were too poor (even though they met the entry requirements for my course…) and that I didn’t even compare with the other applicants within my own sixth form, let alone with other applicants around the world. I remember vividly applying to go on the school trip to the Oxford and Cambridge open days, I was denied a place on the trip, because it would have been unfair to show students ‘the dizzying heights of Oxford and Cambridge if they didn’t have a real chance of getting in’.
I remember sitting in front of my teacher, ready to give my 5 university choices to them, when the first thing they said was “so, we’re not applying to Oxford are we, Sam?”. Much to their surprise, I confidently told them that I was. And roughly a year and a half later, I’m currently sat at my desk in New College, Oxford, writing this post.
You truly have nothing to lose in applying to Oxford or Cambridge, the worst thing that can happen is you receive a rejection, but the best thing that can happen is you receive an offer! When applying through UCAS, you are allowed to apply to 5 different universities, even if you don't receive an offer from Oxford or Cambridge, the likelihood is you'll get one of your other choices. You have nothing to lose, if anything you can only gain from the experience, I certainly did.