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I studied at Oxford for seven and a half years. I had never even thought about studying at Oxford (or Cambridge which I visited often as a child) when one day I was on a school open day at New College. I walked into the college and I simply fell in love with it. I knew then that I wanted to study there and have not regretted it.
The application procedure for Oxford and Cambridge is slightly more complicated than for other Universities. There is a separate form which has to be filled in and returned, and the deadline to send this in is earlier than for the UCAS form.
When I applied there was still an entrance exam, but now that has disappeared. You pick a first choice college (and second and third if you want, or if you don't want to pick you will be assigned them "by computer") and if you are invited for interview you will be invited to that college some time in December.
You will probably have at least two interviews at that college and two at another. (The interviews vary according to which department you are applying for - even though it is the college you are applying to each department also works in different ways.) They will ask you questions about all kinds of things. They will probably ask you a lot of things that you don't know. Don't worry, they don't expect you to know them, they want to see how you think and what you do with the information they give you. You might also be expected to sit a test, particularly if you are an arts student.
You will find out if you have been offered a place just before Christmas normally (not a good time to do it, I know...). If you get an offer it will almost certainly be dependent upon you getting high grades at A level (probably all A's), although I don't think that many colleges ask for the more advanced papers any more.
So what is Oxford like? Well, you either love it or you hate it. Several people in my year dropped out within the first week of being there, simply because they didn't like the place. I loved it, and I think there is something there for everyone. If there isn't a club doing what you are doing, then you can set it up yourself, and some people do. However, there are numerous sport, music, drama, etc clubs. There is even an assasin's club if you're into that kind of thing (they don't really kill anyone!).
Each college has its own individual character. There is still one women only college in Oxford, St Hildas. Other than that they are all co-ed. Some are small, some are large, each is different.
The choice of college is an important decision if you apply to Oxford or Cambridge. You need to pick a college that you will be happy in. The larger colleges are generally less personal, but then you have more space to yourself. It really depends what you want. You also want to take into account who is going to be teaching you. Some colleges have tutors in each subject, whilst others bring in tutors for some subjects from outside. I had excellent tutors, but some people end up with people like me and my friends teaching them (whilst I like to think I'm a good teacher I don't have the experience or knowledge of the professors).
I won't go into details of what courses are taught as this is covered in other reviews (see Jon Sheppard's review at http://www.ciao.co.uk/Oxford_University__Review_5305624). Jon also covers each of the areas of life in Oxford so I shall summarise what I feel.
The terms are short (8 weeks) and intense. 7th week blues are common. The colleges often hire out your rooms out of term time which makes it hard to stay up for longer if you are living in college accomodation. However, it is worth it if you can, just to see Oxford when you're not running around like an idiot.
Oxford is still full of tradition. You still have to wear full sub-fusc and gowns for exams which can sometimes be annoying when you are walking to the exams (no sir I do not want to stand next to your wife while you take a photo of her). Tourists can also be an irritation after a while, walking out into the middle of the road in front of you and asking you "Where's the University?". However, I guess that's all part of the heritage of living in a historic town.
Socially I spent most of my time playing music (although I did do a bit of sport now and again). The music scene in Oxford is huge, with most colleges having at least an orchestra and a choir, the University having at least three orchestras, a wind orchestra, a choir, etc.
I have moved on from Oxford and I miss it. Well most of it. Like all things it isn't perfect, but if you are thinking of going there I would strongly recommend it.
For more information see the University web site at http://www.ox.ac.uk/
This is a good review. You have covered a lot of relevant stuff. To improve try putting in more facts, things about Oxford - how long has it been there? what are the different areas? What kind of housing did you have? Did you use the universities' housing or prefer to find your own - spend a little bit more time on it pad out your review a little bit - but not too much.
MALU 20.05.2004 18:04
Oxbridge is certainly something very English, we don't have anything like that in Germany (or in any other European country).