I once told my sixth-form careers advisor that I was unsure if I should apply to Oxford. Her response was, "you should, because if you don't you'll never know". Well, it was good advice, and I guess I know now! It's a real pleasure to study geography at Oxford, and one I feel you continually earn through stimulating academic work.
My sixth-form was fortunate enough to have some Oxbridge support groups, however none for geography, meaning I got grouped with the history applicants. My preparation involved questions such as "Why do you want to study History at Oxford?" (spoiler: I don't!). I remember during the application process, nights of practising the TSA and letting a cry of excitement escape me in the bus station when I received my email inviting me for an interview. When I got my offer and visited Brasenose on an offer holder day I knew this was where I wanted to be, and I subsequently poured myself into my A-level revision to get the grades - and here I am!
There's such a range of activities, people and ideas here. So much beautiful architecture, which when you wake up and walk to breakfast in the hall, with paintings of alumni such as William Golding and General Haig makes you feel invigored and ready for the day. A day which is likely to be filled with both study and play. Lectures by experts in their field. Tutorials which engage with you on a level you have to be prepared for. Reading lists which have sometimes radical, but always engaging literature curated just for your college cohort. You're surrounded by people with a similar love of the subject as yourself as well which makes collaboration and revision a joy as you fall in love with your degree.
Brasenose especially is great for BOPs (Big Organised Parties!), brunches, alumni talks organised by the principal, and overall just a great friendly atmosphere. In fact, we like to refer to ourselves as the friendliest college in Oxford! That is certainly down to the people here, who make college feel like a home away from home. We're right in the middle of Oxford as well, next to the Radcliffe Camera. When people ask, "where do you live in Oxford" I tell them to google "Oxford" and the top image will have our front door! A front door I now walk in and out of every day, and a sentence I never thought I'd be writing.
Barney Wakefield, West Yorkshire - 1st Year Geographer
‘Have you heard Chiara is applying to Oxford?’. Oxford was like a top-secret word at my old school. You heard it whispered around the summer of year 12 to see if anyone was going to take the plunge and give it a go, thinking there’s no chance you’re getting in. But as a fiercely stubborn person who saw nothing to lose, I thought – why not, what’s the worst that could happen? Under the impression I wouldn’t get in, I picked Brasenose because 1) it was second on the alphabetic list after Balliol, and 2) I had a mentor who had only spoken good things about it. Do I advise you to do absolutely no research into your college choices? Absolutely not. I’m just incredibly lucky Brasenose is the right place for me (and in my totally unbiased opinion, the best college in Oxford).
But you have probably heard this story before, the state-school student who came from a school that had only one or two people go to Oxbridge a year maximum, who never EVER thought they would get into Oxford. I was so convinced I hadn’t got in I was looking at Bristol University accommodation the night before I got my offer. But, after spending a term here now, I am so glad I went against the grain and gave it a go – not only do I love studying History here, but I’ve also made so many brilliant friends and memories for life, even after spending just a term here. The fact that there are so many stories like mine of state-school students getting into Oxford should prove that your school, background, where you live etc should not be a barrier for you doubting whether you could get into Oxford.
To big up the college for a second, Brasenose, living up to its reputation as the friendliest college in Oxford, has been my home away from home since I started here. If you ever see anyone from Brasenose, they are, without fail, always smiley and friendly – maybe it’s something they put in the water? One of my biggest concerns about coming to Oxford was not having a social life and feeling lonely after leaving my home friends and family. But at Brasenose, it is physically impossible to not have a social life, there is always something to do and something to look forward to. With a variety of social events varying from ‘Collection Cocktails’ dressing in fancy dress to Welfare teas with our Welfare JCR representatives, the support network Brasenose provides has only made my ‘Oxford experience’ (mixed with essays and reading) something I will always treasure. I couldn’t have accidentally picked a better college!
Chiara Simpson-Gregory, West Midlands - 1st Year History