The 8th of January, 2014 had been a set date in my diary for quite some time; the day I’d receive the final decision about my place at Oxford University.
I’d like to say the letter I received was cold and heartless; but it would be a lie. Had I the unfortunate task of having to draft one, to hand out to candidates such as myself, I don’t think I could have done a better job. At least the cliché phrase of ‘competition being extremely strong’ was spared till the third paragraph and there was an actual signature at the bottom (even if it was a little scruffy).
It did actually shock me that I’d even received the opportunity to have an interview. I’d tried very hard with my personal statement, tailoring it to Oxford’s course. I did however fail to mention, that from the age of five, I had always wanted to be an Air Hostess. And that unfortunately, this dream died the death when I realised that the staff (on short haul flights) never actually got off when it reached its destination, and that if they did then they would have nowhere to stay and never be able to make it back home.
There were no three days quite like my experience in Oxford. I suppose it’s comparable to the ‘Trial Run’ experienced by players of ‘The Cube’ prior to making the big decision as to whether they want to play the game or not. You’d say no to such a scenario, right? Honestly, I didn’t want to miss it for the world. But at Oxford it’s not the player who gets to decide, you’re told whether you can play the game or not, based on your trial run and history.
During my visit I was overwhelmed by the private school candidates that were competing for places against me. Not only by the fact that I seemed to be the only individual that had never experienced a public school at some stage in their life, but also because of their achievements. I felt physically sick listening to them talk about everything they’d done; from Gold Duke of Edinburgh Awards to musical grades, in addition to countless previously attained AS levels and A levels stuffed under their belt.
I live in the North-East and have attended state schools all of my life. I have 8A* GCSEs and 3As. I loved my secondary school and if it had a sixth form attached I’d never have left, even though it was placed in the failing category by Ofsted, when I was in Year 11. I have achieved 4 AS levels at grade A and I’m currently studying for 3 A-levels.
I knew in my heart that Oxford and I would never properly mix. I did my best, which is really all I could do. I don’t want to set myself some crazy goal whilst in a jealous and upset rage. I want to make myself proud of what I do every day.
So after crying my eyes out, like the mature and established 17 year old I pride myself on being, I realised that I’d always known the Oxford dream was a long shot. I always said tears would be shed today, regardless of the outcome and I am a girl who likes to keep her word. After a huge hug from my mum, words of wisdom from my dad and a long deep reflection in the bath, I’m ready to face the world again!
I know that all my friends, family and teachers are very proud of me for making it as far as I did. Honestly, I think there are some people who deserved to be interviewed far more than I did.
Congratulations to everyone who made it into the Oxford cohort today and commiserations to everyone who feels like I do right now!
Through all of this, I am acutely aware that many other leading universities will offer me amazing opportunities and I dare say I always slightly feared what the Oxford social life would include. But, above all of this, as many people will say, everything happens for a reason and Oxford just isn’t the University for me.
Thanks to everyone for their huge amounts of support; I couldn’t have made it to my interview without you.
Tomorrow is going to be a hard day for telling people, but I know I’m stronger now, due to the closure received, now I’ve become an ‘Oxford reject’.