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The journal for all former, current, future and wanna-be Oxonians!
Feb. 28th, 2009 @ 07:43 pm
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March 6th, 2009 09:21 pm (UTC)
I think other people have probably answered most of your questions now about what the English course is like, and I have almost no idea.
However, I am one of those people who settled for an Oxford course I found academically less interesting/useful than those offered at other places in exchange for the chance to study at a university I fell in love with. I do not regret it at all. I wanted to study amongst universally very intelligent people, in a beautiful place where intelectual curiosity was not frowned upon, which was precisely what I gained from Oxford and I still (some years after graduation now) am not convinced I could have got from anywhere else. It think the name of the university and what having successfully studied there adds to perceptios me as a person has contributed greatly to my ability to change to unrelated careers post graduation.
However, there are 3 reasons why "settling" for the Oxford course structure would not work for everyone:
1) If you genuinely love an aspect of your subject which is covered elsewhere and not on the Oxford course, you are missing out on the oportunity to have focused tuition on this aspect which may never arise again in your life; my indecisiveness and broad area of interest made this much less of an issue for me;
2) The Oxford courses generally are harder than those at other universities. It is VERY difficult to motivate yourself to put in the extra work for the Oxford degree if you feel you would have learnt more about your interests elsewhere; once you have chosen your university you are pretty much in it for the long haul and if you have serious niggles, knowing you are doing twice as much work as your friends elsewhere to maintain similar grades, and potentially giving up your chance of a first can make you really resent Oxford, which ruins the whole experience you traded in for in the first place. I know; I've seen it happen more than once.
3)If you know that what you want to do is a creative writing course, then it is very hard to be genuinely relevant and enthusiastic about the course actually offered when you are being interviewed. In the 3 years I spent at Oxford it is fair to say that I didnt meet anyone else who even nearly shared my lack of interest in their own course. There were people who didnt like bits of it, and people who pursued outside interests perhaps more strongly than their degree, but very few who genuinely wanted to be learning something else. If you cant figure out what it is about the Oxford degree as a course of accademic study which appeals to you over studies elsewhere, then the chances of you getting past the interview are incredibly slim.
Sorry for the essay, which doesn't really advise you either way, but your ambiguity about the course reminded me strongly of my own, so I thought my experience might help.