20 December 2017

Hannah was one of five students from the College who applied to either Oxford or Cambridge University and was invited to interview for a place. Whilst she now faces an anxious wait to find out if she was successful, Hannah has written about the 'once in a lifetime' experience of being part of the notoriously challenging Oxbridge interview process, and describes just how much she'll take away from it, no matter the outcome.



With the prior knowledge of the standard of the University of Oxford (sixth best in the world), having the courage to apply for a languages course there in the first place astounded not only myself but many others – I was, in fact, rather sceptical of my abilities. Not only was it just an application, but an official entry exam and sending a piece of work out that I was proud of – essentially a lot of work so the university could ensure that I was dedicated to my application. Therefore, after having undergone this rather long process, receiving the news of getting an interview quite literally blew me away, especially knowing the number of people who actually do receive interviews which is very few!

The interview process involved staying on campus for three nights (Wednesday 6th December – Saturday 9th December) with food and accommodation provided. This in itself was just fabulous, being able to have a brief experience of ‘living’ in Oxford. The campus was simply stunning, similar to the whole city, especially with it being Christmas! The dining hall was grand with huge portraits of people in history all over the walls. The buildings were all of a similar washed out/old fashioned colour: almost castle-like giving it that authentic ‘Oxford’ feel. The on-site chapel was exquisite - a similar design to that of a cathedral with stunning decoration. It all just felt surreal.

It was our responsibility throughout the stay to keep checking the notice board for when our interviews would be. For me, I had two interviews, both scheduled on the Thursday, however all throughout Friday and Saturday morning, I had to keep checking the notice board to see whether I had been spontaneously called for further interview. These further interviews could be at any point. In one case, a girl in my college got called for an interview during dinner! The anxiety among everyone was nearly unbearable, but besides this mutual feeling of angst, the friendly atmosphere from not only the student helpers, but fellow interviewees, was heart-warming. 

The free time between interviews could be spent however you wanted, whether that was doing some school work, preparing for interview, exploring Oxford or socialising in the common room: the ‘JCR’. My choice of pastime was in the JCR, talking to new people and making new friends. Of course, we were all in the same boat, stressing about interviews, discussing universities and what-not. My first night was in fact spent in Starbucks with a group of girls who had all met that day, just chatting away, demonstrating the warm atmosphere I was met with. Also, considering the fact that everyone was from different backgrounds, predominantly from boarding and private schools, it was truly fascinating to hear about their experiences and how their schools worked – even as far as actual ‘house parties’ within school where teachers are present throughout the whole night with a strict 10:30pm finish!

In the end, I didn’t get pulled for further interview which could either be a really good thing or a really bad thing! And the worst part being, we won’t even find out until 10th of January! Despite the worry of getting in, the whole experience was just fantastic – an opportunity which can literally happen only once in my lifetime. From staying in Oxford to meeting some wonderful new people, including the Oxford tutors, without doubt it was one of the best experiences of my life.

Just to finish, my advice to anyone who is thinking of applying: if you think that you can then you can. It’s not about how ‘smart’ you are or ‘how many facts you can remember’, it is about you and how you think. Of course, we can’t forget the grade aspect of it (very high!) but never be scared to take an opportunity - go for it. 

Hannah Stuthridge


Posted by The BSFC Blogger

Category: The Student Voice