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Jun. 12th, 2009 @ 10:58 pm Please Delete If This Isn't Relevant...!
Hello! Wannabe-Oxonian (but who isn't one, really).

(I was recently directed here from a friend at college_help and I was just looking for some tips.)

I'm still a lowly high school student but have been dreaming of Oxford since I was an eight-year-old. Since it's now my time to start the college search crack down, I've begun to seriously look into it- and now I'm inundated with CONFUSION.  

I'm looking to work with young, special needs children- maybe in the educational sense, or in the medical field, somehow. Coming from the American system, I'm very confused as to how things work over there and what I should do- no one I know has been there, done that, so I'm just going into it totally blind (and I'll be there totally on my own, if I'm magically accepted)....

What should I be doing right now to get ready? What do I need to have prepared/done in order to apply? As experienced students, what kind of qualifications are we really talking about here? Is there anyone in particular I should be looking to talk to? What's it really like? How do I get off on the right foot (in any/all of the application, interview, academic, and social arenas)? Are there any Americans/other international students out there to give that particular perspective?

Y'all, I'm an American, never even been to England. Obviously, I'm totally lost. *Laughs*

If anyone could help, that'd be great. Thank you so much!
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Date:June 13th, 2009 10:15 am (UTC)
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You need to focus before you'll get good answers to any of those questions.
'Medical' or 'educational' is much too vague - the UK educational system is much more focused and specialised than the US one, and something that undefined will probably not get you anywhere. Do you want to study medicine? Or education? Or psychology? or what? And when you know which of those really interests you, ask yourself if Oxford is actually the best place to go.

I do admissions for graduates coming to Oxbridge; we get a lot of US students applying. If you want to guarantee that you'll get rejected, then make us think that the only reason you want to come here is for the 'prestige'. You need to want to come because it's educationally right for you, and you've really thought through your options, not just because it's a famous name you heard as a kid.
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Date:June 13th, 2009 10:26 am (UTC)
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I do admissions for graduates coming to Oxbridge

..I almost certainly work in the same office as you, sometimes.
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Date:June 13th, 2009 11:07 am (UTC)
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There should be a secret LJ handshake...

To the OP - exactly what typosqueene said. Why do you want to study at a university at a university you know nothing about in a country you've never been to? If you are shortlisted for interview, you will need to convince the interviewers that you are the right match for the course, appropriately qualified and committed, as well as intellectually capable of its demands - having some unfounded romantic fantasies about the town or the university won't cut any ice there. As you've already heard, Oxford undergraduate courses, like most undergraduate courses in the UK, aren't the kind of large generalist thing you are able to do in the US, where you can wander about a bit before accumulating modules towards your major - here, you apply for a specific course in one subject (or two, if it's a Joint Hons degree). And medicine, for instance, is an undergraduate, not a postgraduate degree - you normally enter straight from school. You need to decide exactly what you want to study, and if it's, say, medicine, make sure you are appropriately qualified to apply (have taken the right science subjects to A-level or IB equivalent), taken a subject test etc if that's required - all info for all of this, as well as stuff specifically for international students, is on the very detailed website:


Bear in mind that medicine, since you suggest that is a potential interest, is extremely competitive - only 14% of applicants were accepted on average over the last three years, and people with the equivalent of a perfect GPA are turned down every year.


It rings warning bells with me that you seem to have a romantic notion of Oxford as where you want to study, but no real idea of what you what to study - which suggests to me that a more flexible US undergraduate degree where you could explore different fields before choosing a major might work better for you. (Remember also to check that any international qualifications will be recognised in the US.) I'd suggest you look around for someone who has the kind of job you want, and ask that person about his/her qualifications.
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Date:June 14th, 2009 07:29 am (UTC)

Probably not.

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Departments screen candidates too :) and I'm more, uh, of a fens girl.
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Date:June 13th, 2009 11:06 am (UTC)
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At the same time while I totally agree with what's said here, I think the experience you'd gain would be invaluable by going abroad and Oxford is a fantastic place. So don't be put off by the comments above, they're constructive and honest.

I would have thought from what you've said psychology would be a good degree as education is with the aim of teaching in the UK IIRC, but I'm pretty sure oxford isn't the best place in the UK for it when I was last checking it up.

Medicine on the other hand is again a very different degree which is part of a long series of qualifications depending what you do with it.

Also remember if you good/enjoy at a subject and want to teach in special needs you can always do that at undergrad then do a teaching qualification after which is very common in the uk.
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Date:June 13th, 2009 11:04 am (UTC)
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'Going into it totally blind'...'As experienced students, what kind of qualifications are we really talking about here?'...'Obviously, I'm totally lost.' I'm not trying to be nasty at all, and there's no reason why you can't get into Oxford, but you really need to do some basic research first!

It sounds like you haven't even read the prospectus for Oxford. You need to do that, and have a serious think about which courses you want to do - if you're not even sure if you want to be 'medical' or 'educational' then you have a lot of thinking to do!

A lot of your questions can be answered by looking at www.ox.ac.uk - Oxford's website will have some of the answers for you. Have a good read, and then think about it. This community is really for personal advice on which colleges are right for someone, what a particular course is like, what the social life is like at college - that kind of thing. It's not a substitute for some good research - that's your responsibility.

Good luck :) Oxford is not right for everyone. It is hard, it is tough, and it can be psychologically gruelling. The course can seem academic, pedantic, and irrelevant. But if it's right for you, you'll have the best time of your life here.
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Date:June 15th, 2009 09:58 am (UTC)
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International qualifications: SAT 1 scores of at least 1,400 in Critical Reading and Mathematics and preferably also 700 or more in the new Writing Paper, giving a combined score of at least 2,100. OR ACT with a score of at least 32 out of 36.


Grade 5 in three or more Advanced Placement tests in appropriate subjects OR SAT II in three appropriate subjects at 700 or better.

If you can get the grades, and you get an interview, you then need to convince the interviewers why it is that you want to do the particular subject you've set your heart on. Good luck!

There were international students from the US when I was there, but there were also visiting students who just came over for a year. If you're applying to US colleges too, then find out whether they offer an exchange program with Oxford.