THE OXBRIDGE CO­NUN­DRUM

Friday - - Beauty -

Q My son has just re­ceived his A-level re­sults and has got 3 A-stars. We are push­ing him to re­think his col­lege choices and reap­ply to Oxbridge. What do you sug­gest?

ACon­grat­u­la­tions on your son’s ex­cel­lent per­for­mance. I’m sure you and your son are, right­fully so, ex­tremely happy.

I pre­sume based on his pre­dicted grades your son would have se­lected his univer­sity. Be­fore you make a de­ci­sion to de­fer his ad­mis­sion, iden­tify the sub­ject he wants to pur­sue. It is pos­si­ble that nether Ox­ford nor Cam­bridge of­fer them, or that an­other univer­sity has a rep­u­ta­tion equally good – if not bet­ter –than Oxbridge for that pro­gramme.

Why not have him re­visit his se­lec­tion and speak to the fac­ul­ties of the short­listed uni­ver­si­ties? This may give him con­fi­dence in his de­ci­sion. Your son should also check with the uni­ver­si­ties (ones he’s firmly RASHI CHOWDHARY cho­sen) if he is el­i­gi­ble for a schol­ar­ship. Some uni­ver­si­ties give schol­ar­ships to stu­dents who get ex­cep­tional grades that may be be­yond the con­di­tions on his of­fer let­ter.

Do also talk to his school coun­sel­lor or a col­lege con­sul­tant who will help you un­der­stand the process of and com­pet­i­tive­ness of ap­ply­ing to Oxbridge. Keep in mind that he can ap­ply to ei­ther Cam­bridge or Ox­ford, not both. It is pos­si­ble that along with the 3 A-stars the ad­mis­sion of­fi­cer will also ask to see his GCSE re­sults – look­ing for a min­i­mum of seven A-stars. In ad­di­tion to his aca­demic scores, ad­mis­sion of­fi­cers will re­view his per­sonal state­ments, ref­er­ence let­ters and ex­am­ples of course­work.

Oxbridge ap­pli­ca­tion dead­lines have closed for this year’s in­take and he’d need to take a gap year. It is im­por­tant that the gap year is well planned and he ben­e­fit from it. Use the time to at­tend sem­i­nars, do an in­tern­ship, visit ex­hi­bi­tions and read a lot on the pro­gramme he in­tends to pur­sue. At ev­ery stage in his ap­pli­ca­tion and in­ter­view he will need to show ded­i­ca­tion and en­thu­si­asm for the cho­sen sub­ject.

Time­lines should be kept in mind as the ap­pli­ca­tion dates are ear­lier than other UK uni­ver­si­ties. Oxbridge ap­pli­ca­tions nor­mally open up from Septem­ber 1 to Oc­to­ber 15. He’ll also need to sit for fairly de­mand­ing en­trance tests. Suc­cess­ful can­di­dates will be in­ter­viewed in De­cem­ber – use the prepa­ra­tion days to un­der­stand and prac­tise for the in­ter­view. The in­ter­views have a for­mi­da­ble rep­u­ta­tion and in ad­di­tion to knowl­edge of the sub­ject, they test the stu­dent’s ca­pac­ity of em­brac­ing ideas to work through prob­lems.

A key dif­fer­ence at Oxbridge is the method­ol­ogy and style of im­part­ing ed­u­ca­tion. In ad­di­tion to lec­tures and classes, stu­dents at­tend small study work­shops with a tu­tor, and it is th­ese tu­to­ri­als where he’ll get in­di­vid­ual per­son­alised at­ten­tion that re­ally dif­fer­en­ti­ate Oxbridge from other uni­ver­si­ties.

At the end of the day, be­fore de­fer­ring your de­ci­sion re­mem­ber the old adage ‘a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush’.

is a nutritionist, di­a­betes ed­u­ca­tor and creator of The Pro­tein Bake Shop

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