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Cambridge...???

Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
edited March 27 in Work & Study
Hey..
Im thinking of applying to Cambridge Uni to do an English Degree, I'm predicted 4 a's @ AS level, but know how hard it is to get in. People have told me that a rejection from Cambridge means that no other university will accept you...any1 give me any advice?? xTHANXx
Post edited by JustV on

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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Oxbridge is tough, no doubt. You don't just need 4 As, you need to show evidence of liking your subject; further readng, that sort of thing, especially in the literature of interest. I'm sure there's a couple of ex-Tabs on here somewhere, I seem to recall one being an English student. The myth of rejection is just a myth. Other universities will take those who aren't Oxford, then Cambridge, then Durham,.. etc...
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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I dunno..but aren't AS's half an A Level therefore you are only doing 2 A Levels? Go for it, it's not true that other unis won't let you in if you apply there.
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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    If your at a state school then your going to have do extra work, especially on interview technique and I believe you have to do an essay for them so you had better make it a good'un
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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Nah, I applied, got rejected, still got 4 offers from other unis. It's hard work, I applied for History, and looking back on it I realise now that you do have to be passionate, and you can't fool them. You need to have direction, but show that you're flexible, so don't seem too set on one area of literature.

    Beyond that, basically be good at interview technique and enjoy yourself. It's a good university, but it's not the be all and end all. Also think hard about the stigma attatched to Oxbridge. Even as I was waiting for my offer or rejection to come through after the interview, I realised that I didn't actually want to be attatched to the whole institution. No offence meant to anyone that goes there/wants to go there, but it's just not for me.

    Any other questions, just ask, there's plenty of smart cookies here to answer. Although, noticeably, no Cambridge undergrads, only Oxford ones.

    Odd...
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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Oh, and DJP, I'm very disappointed you didn't mention Warwick and Nottingham <IMG SRC="wink.gif" border="0" ALT="icon">. Also slightly worried it took you two minutes to reply to that thread with more than a one-word comeback. Don't you have exams soon?
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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Hey Plug In! Its great that you have set yourself this target - but I warn you, they aren't just looking for the grades, they want high grades but you have to show why YOU should get a place, and not the other people you will be competing against. UCAS have changed it slightly so the Universities won't actually know where else you have applied. For the moment concentrate on getting the grades and if it looks good on results day - go for it!! <IMG SRC="smile.gif" border="0" ALT="icon">
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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Originally posted by Turtle:
    <STRONG>Oh, and DJP, I'm very disappointed you didn't mention Warwick and Nottingham <IMG SRC="wink.gif" border="0" ALT="icon">. Also slightly worried it took you two minutes to reply to that thread with more than a one-word comeback. Don't you have exams soon?</STRONG>


    What? One word comeback? What?

    *confused*

    Yes, I do have exams soon. *sighs* Is that a hint for me to leave the boards, Turtle??

    [I'm an Oxbridge student, and it's not at the Fenland Poly. (Cambridge)]
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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    fuck cambridge - they're a bunch of wankers anyway. Glasgow's the place for you my love. have some actual fun with real humans
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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Originally posted by kathryn:
    <STRONG>What? One word comeback? What?

    Dear, reread his post, Turtle is saying you were very quick with such a detailed post! <IMG SRC="smile.gif" border="0" ALT="icon">

    *is smug* <IMG SRC="biggrin.gif" border="0" ALT="icon"></STRONG>

    Glad someone understands me. <IMG SRC="tongue.gif" border="0" ALT="icon">@DJP.

    <IMG SRC="biggrin.gif" border="0" ALT="icon">
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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Well, i live in Cambridge but go to uni elsewhere and although i love the city and obviously the uni is top dog as a university town its not the best, its not geared towards students as you're there to work, not to have fun and socilaise. So it just depends on what you want to get out of uni, as there are plenty of other excellent uni's that are rated extremely highly but where you'll also have a lot more fun, eg Southampton, Warwick, Edinburgh. <IMG SRC="smile.gif" border="0" ALT="icon">
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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    <IMG SRC="tongue.gif" border="0" ALT="icon"> at Kathryn and Turtle.

    Just because I didn't get it that quickly.... My brain was addled, I'd spent two hours going over finances... Eugh.

    The reason I didn't mention Warwick, btw, is because it tries to be something it's not. Durham, at least, has pretensions which are justified; it has a history of academic excellence. Warwick was only founded very recently, 60s or 70s, I think, and famous alumni include Timmy Mallet. Enough said. (And it doesn't do Geography, which makes it stupid)

    Edited because I probably should be less elitist. Sorry to anyone who goes to Warwick (MacKenzie et al.) - I know it's good, but it doesn't deserve the Premier League status it accords itself. Ooops, there's me being elitist again...
    <IMG SRC="rolleyes.gif" border="0" ALT="icon">

    [ 10-05-2002: Message edited by: DJP ]
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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I agree about Warwick, it's an ugly uni and they told me at interview that to go there I needed to be very committed and would have to work incredibly hard-sounded like a prison sentence not a uni!
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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Just thought I would post these links, since we're on the subject;

    The Times Good University Guide, 2002-2003

    "Any chance of a place at Oxbridge?" - article discussing Admissions

    Top Universities for English (Source: The Times)

    How the Points System will work

    The most popular universities

    Just for the Notts. students out there <IMG SRC="wink.gif" border="0" ALT="icon">

    Admissions Figures, Source; Oxford University

    English at the University of Oxford

    Edited to add some more links. If people want to ask Oxford questions, do...

    [ 10-05-2002: Message edited by: DJP ]
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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Hi - don't worry about other universities rejecting you. Its a myth. The only thing that applying to Cambridge can hold against you is that you can't also apply for Oxford in the same year, but anywhere else is fine. The only thing I would say though, is a) make absolutely sure you are applying to the right college for you. (which college are you going for by the way?) some people suit larger colleges like Trinity and King's and others would get on better at smaller ones like Clare or Selwyn. It's probably the most important thing you should worry about. I applied to King's on the basis of it being "liberal, mostly state eductated students, unpretentious" and when I got there I found I hated it - by far the most pretentious college in Cambridge and the only college where people will even bother thinking about what kind of school you went to. In other colleges that's not an issue - state, private, boarding, single sex... whatever - no one cares. Anyway, if you want my advice apply to Clare - its the best college in Cambridge and is very good for English; b) make sure you definately want to be doing English at Cambridge. Be prepared for the speed at which you have to study things. I found the first two years of my English degree very frustrating because we never really got in to anything in any depth. For instance, we were studying Shakespeare one term (it was one of three paper's that term) and we were having to do three new plays each week. As the Shakespeare paper was one of three papers that term, we could give maybe two or three days to the Shakespeare essay in any one week - for which we had to read 3 plays, lots of criticism etc etc. The result is that you often feel like you're just skimming over everything just to get it done. Having said that it does give you an exceptionally broad grounding in literature, and the knowledge of the teachers is second to none. So... think carefully about it - its right for some people and not for others. Being very clever doesn't mean you will necessarily enjoy it, but you may well have the best time of your life.

    Sorry this is so long. Go, apply - you'll probably get in. I did, and I'm not very clever. Email me when you get to cambridge - I'll be around for the next couple of years... good luck XX
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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I'm going to Emmanuel College to read english in october, and I did the whole application hing this year. the main advice I'd give you is to read loads. Which sounds incredibly obvious, but is all that really matters. It's pretty much taken as a given that everyone applying will have 3 or 4 as - what matters is how enthusiastic you are. Use your personal statement to list all the people you've been reading and make sure there's a wide chronological/thematic spread. I put Chaucer, James Hogg, Shakespeare, Raymond Carver, Knut Hamsun, T S Eliot, Auden, etc - see below.. Don't put too much about how you captained the 3rd XI cricket - it may be a slight, slight, slight factor, but the actual english tutors don't really give a shit about anything except literature.
    The actual interview, if you get one -most people do - isn't as terrifying as everyone thinks. DONT BE TERRIFIED, and don't be afraid to make mistakes. I had two (tho' i think it varies from college to college), one of which was a chat about the books on my personal statement, one of which was a discussion of a poem which I had half an hour to prepare. That sounds bad but it really felt like an informal tutorial - treat it as a discussion and don't feel you have to show off constantly. Also, it helps to not be obnoxious or arrogant or whatever - remember, they'll be spending the next 3 years teaching you.
    So, yeah - read a lot, only put things on yr personal statement that you truly love and will be able to talk passionately and intelligently about, and don't be too nervous - though of cours eit s inevitable that your mouth will dry out a little bit. Go to the loo before hand. Dress smartly - I'm sur ethey don't really give a shit, but you might be unlucky and get some anal tosser who really cares about that stuff.
    Ask an english teacher to give you a practice interview if your school doesn't set them up. Talk about the books with anyone who'll listen to you. Be sure this is what you want to do and be sure that literature matters, and if you'd rather do something else, do.
    If you haven't already check out the prospectus and go on an open day to see the colleges and choose which one. I chose Emma cos apperently its good for english, right size for me, good location, facilities, I liked the tutor, and it's the only college with a free laundry service - plus, apparently, the best JCR in cambridge. Trinity looked pretty cool too, principally cos it's on the river, beautiful and loaded. (too big for me, though.) think about what sort of college you want.
    Re other unis: I got rejected by all the others I applied to except royal holloway but I think that was mainly cos I was applying for deferred entry - they get so many apllicants that if you do that they just tell you to try again next year. Cambridge accepted me but said no gap year. Even if it was cos of the cambridge thing that the others rejected me, I wouldn't worry, cos a)you get two bites at the cherry if it goes wrong first time, and b) I think they only reject you if you've been ACCEPTED by cambridge. In whch case it doesn't matter that much, if it's your first choice.
    Enclosed below is my personal statement - hope it's a useful example. And i know the bit at the start is pompous bollocks. Good luck!

    I have always read voraciously and I am very excited about the prospect of studying English at university. The subject seems to offer a remarkable chance to gain new insight into works of art – and, in return for this study, great literature may give us new insights into ourselves.
    The first author who really interested me was probably Paul Auster, and through one of his essays I recently discovered Knut Hamsun’s masterpiece, Hunger. Nothing I have read before has offered such a strange mix of hope and despair. I have also started to read Raymond Carver, who has an extraordinary gift for making the reader look again at the apparently mundane. James Hogg’s Confessions of a Justified Sinner has reminded me of the importance of reading literature in social and historical contexts; similarly, Thomas More’s Utopia is a fascinating political blueprint as well as a wonderful work in its own right. Of the poets I’ve read recently, I have particularly enjoyed Auden and Eliot, who seem to have in common at least a faith in poetry’s power to change the world. I have also read some of Chaucer’s short poems, such as Gentilesse (which was especially interesting given the importance of this concept in the Canterbury Tales) and An ABC, after first encountering him on the AS syllabus last year.
    This year I have been able to indulge my enthusiasm for the theatre by directing a one act comedy (Woody Allen’s God ) as part of a festival, and I have just directed a production of Dealer’s Choice by Patrick Marber. Whenever possible I go to the theatre. Recently I have been lucky enough to see Harold Pinter acting in his own powerful short play One For the Road and the RSC’s daring versions of two of the history plays, Richard II and Henry IV part I. Richard II is really the first of Shakespeare’s plays which I have studied in reasonable depth, and has made me realise exactly why he is so revered.
    I am editor of the school magazine, to which I regularly contribute. Last year I won the lower sixth form English prize. My interest in English is complemented by a curiosity about history, and I am president of the school historical society as well as an active member of a book discussion group. To try and stay abreast of current affairs I attend regular political seminars. I have recently realised, thanks to the works of Bergman and David Lynch, that films can be more than mere escapism, and I am house representative for the school film society. Music is very important to me and I play viola and guitar. I am fascinated by all kinds of art. Sadly, my great interest in sport is not matched by my talent, and I have risen no higher than house teams or the third eleven.

    (one more thing: don't fucking lie in it. My little bit of bollocks about art nearly got busted when the tutor asked me in detail about it - although I like art, I know fuck all about it. And ffs don't put anything in which you intend to read before interview but haven't quite got round to!
  • Options
    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I'm going to Emmanuel College to read english in october, and I did the whole application hing this year. the main advice I'd give you is to read loads. Which sounds incredibly obvious, but is all that really matters. It's pretty much taken as a given that everyone applying will have 3 or 4 as - what matters is how enthusiastic you are. Use your personal statement to list all the people you've been reading and make sure there's a wide chronological/thematic spread. I put Chaucer, James Hogg, Shakespeare, Raymond Carver, Knut Hamsun, T S Eliot, Auden, etc - see below.. Don't put too much about how you captained the 3rd XI cricket - it may be a slight, slight, slight factor, but the actual english tutors don't really give a shit about anything except literature.
    The actual interview, if you get one -most people do - isn't as terrifying as everyone thinks. DONT BE TERRIFIED, and don't be afraid to make mistakes. I had two (tho' i think it varies from college to college), one of which was a chat about the books on my personal statement, one of which was a discussion of a poem which I had half an hour to prepare. That sounds bad but it really felt like an informal tutorial - treat it as a discussion and don't feel you have to show off constantly. Also, it helps to not be obnoxious or arrogant or whatever - remember, they'll be spending the next 3 years teaching you.
    So, yeah - read a lot, only put things on yr personal statement that you truly love and will be able to talk passionately and intelligently about, and don't be too nervous - though of cours eit s inevitable that your mouth will dry out a little bit. Go to the loo before hand. Dress smartly - I'm sur ethey don't really give a shit, but you might be unlucky and get some anal tosser who really cares about that stuff.
    Ask an english teacher to give you a practice interview if your school doesn't set them up. Talk about the books with anyone who'll listen to you. Be sure this is what you want to do and be sure that literature matters, and if you'd rather do something else, do.
    If you haven't already check out the prospectus and go on an open day to see the colleges and choose which one. I chose Emma cos apperently its good for english, right size for me, good location, facilities, I liked the tutor, and it's the only college with a free laundry service - plus, apparently, the best JCR in cambridge. Trinity looked pretty cool too, principally cos it's on the river, beautiful and loaded. (too big for me, though.) think about what sort of college you want.
    Re other unis: I got rejected by all the others I applied to except royal holloway but I think that was mainly cos I was applying for deferred entry - they get so many apllicants that if you do that they just tell you to try again next year. Cambridge accepted me but said no gap year. Even if it was cos of the cambridge thing that the others rejected me, I wouldn't worry, cos a)you get two bites at the cherry if it goes wrong first time, and b) I think they only reject you if you've been ACCEPTED by cambridge. In whch case it doesn't matter that much, if it's your first choice.
    Enclosed below is my personal statement - hope it's a useful example. And i know the bit at the start is pompous bollocks. Good luck!

    I have always read voraciously and I am very excited about the prospect of studying English at university. The subject seems to offer a remarkable chance to gain new insight into works of art – and, in return for this study, great literature may give us new insights into ourselves.
    The first author who really interested me was probably Paul Auster, and through one of his essays I recently discovered Knut Hamsun’s masterpiece, Hunger. Nothing I have read before has offered such a strange mix of hope and despair. I have also started to read Raymond Carver, who has an extraordinary gift for making the reader look again at the apparently mundane. James Hogg’s Confessions of a Justified Sinner has reminded me of the importance of reading literature in social and historical contexts; similarly, Thomas More’s Utopia is a fascinating political blueprint as well as a wonderful work in its own right. Of the poets I’ve read recently, I have particularly enjoyed Auden and Eliot, who seem to have in common at least a faith in poetry’s power to change the world. I have also read some of Chaucer’s short poems, such as Gentilesse (which was especially interesting given the importance of this concept in the Canterbury Tales) and An ABC, after first encountering him on the AS syllabus last year.
    This year I have been able to indulge my enthusiasm for the theatre by directing a one act comedy (Woody Allen’s God ) as part of a festival, and I have just directed a production of Dealer’s Choice by Patrick Marber. Whenever possible I go to the theatre. Recently I have been lucky enough to see Harold Pinter acting in his own powerful short play One For the Road and the RSC’s daring versions of two of the history plays, Richard II and Henry IV part I. Richard II is really the first of Shakespeare’s plays which I have studied in reasonable depth, and has made me realise exactly why he is so revered.
    I am editor of the school magazine, to which I regularly contribute. Last year I won the lower sixth form English prize. My interest in English is complemented by a curiosity about history, and I am president of the school historical society as well as an active member of a book discussion group. To try and stay abreast of current affairs I attend regular political seminars. I have recently realised, thanks to the works of Bergman and David Lynch, that films can be more than mere escapism, and I am house representative for the school film society. Music is very important to me and I play viola and guitar. I am fascinated by all kinds of art. Sadly, my great interest in sport is not matched by my talent, and I have risen no higher than house teams or the third eleven.

    (one more thing: don't fucking lie in it. My little bit of bollocks about art nearly got busted when the tutor asked me in detail about it - although I like art, I know fuck all about it. And ffs don't put anything in which you intend to read before interview but haven't quite got round to!
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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I lied in my personal statement and still got 4 unconditional offers (but then I wasn't applying for Oxford) To be honest though, do they really expect you to do all those extra things? When I was at college I worked 20 hours a week and spent the rest of my time going out, still managed to study, do they really want you to be in loads of societies and stuff? My college didn't even have any clubs or societies other than football.
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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Don't lie.

    There are all sorts of myths that you hear about application and interviews; bricks and windows and "what is courage"...

    This, however, is not a myth; I know the guy in question.

    He was unbelievably good; I'm talking 15 or 16 A*s at GCSE, self taught in 5 or 6 of them. A-levels, no worries. On his Personal Statement, he wrote "I speak some languages, French and German, since I love to travel". He was applying for Natural Sciences at Cambridge.

    The interviewer had a good friend who was German, and a Professor Of Natural Science. The entire scientific interview was conducted in German.

    Not even kidding.

    He passed the interview. He did speak German, and impressed so much that they invited him to come on an unconditional offer basis.

    Point being; don't lie.
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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    What on earth is the point of doing 15 GCSE's. To me that points out a somewhat unbalanced life.
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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I agree with Make Love To Me. Once you've decided to apply here, you need to think about your college, although in practice the vast majority of students are happy at whichever college they find themselves in. (Of course many, including myself, are pooled to other colleges anyway - I'm at Girton but applied to Jesus). Unfortunately, the prospectus can't reflect the different nuances that gives any college its own character but the Student's Union Alternative Prospectus does a slightly better job. The best thing you can do is to come here and visit (write before hand and you and your family can avoid the entrance-fee into the colleges in summer) and contact current students, who are always keen to help (you are welcome to mail me if you want).

    If UCAS have changed the system so other universities can't see where else you are applying, that is excellent news. I am only aware of Bristol ever asking people to say whether they had an Oxbridge offer before they would give an offer themselves but you need'nt worry about that at all now

    The rest has been said already: you'll need some wider-reading and an strong interest in a particular area of the subject if you really want to make it here. It's great fun, though, and nowhere near as pompous as the general public would have you believe. Good luck.

    [ 10-05-2002: Message edited by: m0blf ]
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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    hey, i know this is going to sound cheesy, but thats unavoidable i guess! anyway thanx for all the advice guys, special cheers to DJP for the links,...will be a massive help with all this confusing uni lark. And pussykatty (luvvin the name!), im in my first year so nxt years ill be doing 4 A2's (plus gen studies, ahem) making 5 full a levels...what fun...Thanks again xxx
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