Magdalen student ambassador, Ellie, meeting a group of prospective applicants.
Magdalen student ambassador, Ellie, meeting a group of prospective applicants.

Meet Our Students

What is it like to go to Oxford University from the East Midlands? Our students are here to tell you about their experiences. 

Gayatri - Medicine | Dylan -Mathematics | Eve - History and Politics | Sian -Engineering Science | Candy - Music

Hi! I’m Gayatri and I study Medicine here at Oxford. I have lived in Leicester for most of my life. I went to Judgemeadow Community College for secondary school and WQE Sixth Form College after that.

What advice would you give to anyone from the East Midlands considering applying to Oxford?

If you’re thinking about applying to Oxford, my advice is to go for it! Being afraid of failure is natural but don’t be afraid to try.

Looking at the websites will give you an idea of the grades you need but beyond that getting a place here is anyone’s game. Oxford can seem like a daunting place if you don’t know much about it, but I really have managed to feel at home here! I found YouTube really helpful too because it gave me a realistic idea of what Oxford is like and assured me that there are people here from a variety of backgrounds with a range of personalities and interests. 

There’s so much to do in Oxford and being part of a college gave me a sense of belonging right away.

How did you find moving away from home? 

In some ways moving away from home was tough! I missed my friends, my family, my mum’s home cooking (!!) – everything felt so unfamiliar. On the other hand, moving away was really exciting! There’s so much to do in Oxford and being part of a college gave me a sense of belonging right away. I think being part of a tight knit community helped me settle in and made the transition easy. I love living in Oxford and it’s really comforting knowing home is only a couple of hours away by train. 

What is the best thing about your course?  

I was worried about whether studying medicine would cut off opportunities since choosing a career is a big decision to make at 18 but coming to Oxford, I feel like the number of opportunities I have has grown. My course is really flexible, especially after the first two years. In our third year we get to do original research on a topic of our choice which is great because it’s an opportunity to see if you enjoy research and not many universities offer it as part of their course. I also think Oxford gives you so many non-academic opportunities. I visited China for a month last year through an internship fully funded by the University. This was such a highlight and it’s something I wouldn’t have thought of doing before the opportunity presented itself!

Student Ambassador - Gayatri

My name is Dylan and I read Mathematics at Lincoln College, Oxford. I grew up in Leicester in the East Midlands, where I attended a state school, Soar Valley College to complete my GCSEs before moving to Beauchamp College where I completed my A Levels in Maths, Further Maths, Physics and Chemistry.

It is never too late to aim as high as possible.

What advice would you give to anyone from the East Midlands considering applying to Oxford? 

I think the most important piece of advice for applicants would be to not underestimate your own ability, as there are many who refrain from considering Oxford as an option as they think it to be an unrealistic goal, either due to self-doubt or worry. However, it wasn’t until I began Year 12 that I actually gave some thought as to where I would want to continue my studies and began to consider Oxford, so it is never too late to aim as high as possible.

How did you find moving away from home?  

Having not spent much time away from home in the past, moving was quite daunting at first. However the accommodating atmosphere at Lincoln College played a huge role in helping me to settle in rather quickly. The college system makes it a lot easier to get to know a community of people, whilst you are also given the opportunity to meet new people and make new friends through your subject department and societies.

What is the best thing about your course? 

The best thing about the Mathematics course, for me, is the depth at which we are able to explore topics in spite of the breadth of knowledge the course aims to cover. Particularly in mathematics, being able to argue when and why a solution to a problem works is much more satisfying than being taught specific solutions to specific problems; a skill which I feel the course at Oxford aims to develop more than any other.

Student Ambassador- Dylan

Hi, my name is Eve. I come from Southwell, a small town in Nottinghamshire and went to The Minster School there. I am in my second year now studying History and Politics at Magdalen College, Oxford.

My interests include working with activist and charitable organisations, of which there are hundreds at Oxford- especially on women’s and human rights. I particularly enjoy the journalism stuff I’ve done for these causes as there are loads of magazines I can submit to at university. Before coming to Oxford, I did lots of singing in choirs and dancing. Since coming here, I have been able to try lots of new groups and classes for these- even including an attempt at pole dancing! I really love my degree because I get to mix and match the two subjects. I am starting to specialise more in politics now, and am looking to travel to the Middle East, on my college’s travel grant, to help my study of the region!

What advice would you give to anyone from the East Midlands considering applying to Oxford?

If the main things holding you back are about not being the right ‘kind of person’ for Oxford I would say go for it. Oxford is changing so much every year even since I’ve been here and once you’re here you realise everyone is so well-suited to Oxford even if their backgrounds are really different. When it comes to applying please realise that the university has enough information about you to know the different challenges everyone is facing and they are just interested in who has the most potential. 

Do your research, there is so much information available, from youtubers to college’s Instagram accounts! There is lots of advice on entrance exams and you should try and talk it through with your subject teacher if you can. Don’t worry about having read loads before you apply- they are much more interested in your passion and how you think rather than how much you know. I found it useful in my school to talk to other people who were considering applying because our school didn’t know a huge amount about Oxbridge applications; that way we could support each other, share information and go to Open Days together.

How did you find moving away from home? 

Up until about two months before university I was absolutely terrified of leaving home. Something suddenly clicked into place just before I was due to move. I think I realised where I lived there wasn’t very much to do or that many people around and in Oxford there was never a night without at least two or three options of stuff to do. I also came from quite a rural area so it felt quite like home being in a college in the city centre but with huge grounds and gardens. My parents usually try and come visit me in the middle of term but the terms here are so short I’m at home almost as much as I am away most of the time!

The idea of small group discussion with world class academics was really exciting.

Why did you apply to Oxford? 

I think I always romanticised Oxford a bit when I was younger, watching it in TV shows and thinking it was like going to Hogwarts, but later on it was because I thought the course they offered was incredible. I am not very good at learning through things like lectures so the tutorial system was exactly what I wanted. The idea of small group discussion with world class academics was really exciting. There is still a little bit of living in a castle that I love but it is just being surrounded by people as passionate as me and feeling part of something so special that makes me want to be here now.

What does your day to day life as a student involve?

As a humanities student I have very few contact hours in my week. A usual day might include a lecture or a tutorial of one hour, but otherwise I am left to organise my own time. I like working in coffee shops, of which there are plenty in Oxford, so I normally take my reading there for a few hours. Our college gets free gym membership so I cycle there in the afternoon or do some work on my extra-curricular stuff. This might involve outreach work for college because I am Magdalen’s Access officer or writing articles for a uni magazine. When it comes to dinner time a lot of students eat in hall because the food is fairly cheap and it is a good chance to socialise. In the evening there is always stuff on that I want to do, whether it’s a drawing class, a pub trip, a crewdate (big sports meals) or a clubnight.

Student Ambassador- Eve

Hi, my name is Sian and I am a first year studying an undergraduate degree in Engineering Science at the University of Oxford. My whole life I’ve lived in a town in the north of Nottingham.

For secondary school and sixth form I went to the nearby state school, Kimberley School. In my spare time I love to play sport – I’m currently the goalkeeper for the St Edmund Hall football team, and I play University Volleyball too. I have also participated in other college sports such as netball, badminton and pool. 

I was never fully sure I wanted to come to Oxford, but it’s the best decision I have ever made.

What advice would you give to anyone from the East Midlands considering applying to Oxford?

Don’t let anything at all hold you back: whether it’s self-doubt; being out of your comfort zone; not wanting to be away from home; or anything else; you shouldn’t let it stop you achieving your full potential. I was never fully sure I wanted to come to Oxford, but it’s the best decision I have ever made. The advice my teachers gave me was “what would you regret more, not going to Oxford or going to Oxford and giving it a go?”. Most importantly, applying is not a commitment. You have months after applying to decide where you really want to be, so just do it!

How did you find moving away from home?

Initially, I found moving away from home pretty difficult. I love my home comforts, seeing my friends and family regularly and the idea of moving away never appealed to me. However, I knew I couldn’t let an opportunity like Oxford pass by because of this. It got easier day by day and after one term I felt completely settled. I have made some great friends and I have now made Oxford my second home. Plus, terms are only 8 weeks long so you can spend plenty of time at home too. 

What is your favorite thing about Oxford?

My favourite thing about Oxford is the vast variety of things you can do here. Whether that’s shopping around the huge new Westgate shopping centre; getting ice cream from one of Oxford’s famous independent ice cream shops; going for a walk round University Parks; or visiting one of the many museums, gardens or galleries, there’s an abundance of things to do which really surprised me. I love it when my family visit because there is so much to see and do. There are also many great attractions in Oxford such as the Radcliffe Camera, the Sheldonian Theatre and Oxford Castle. 

What does your day to day life as a student involve? 

Each day is very different. I usually have two one-hour long lectures in the morning (eight a week in total). I spend the rest of my day going through the lecture notes and completing problem sheets which we go through in tutorials twice a week. Sometimes we have laboratory sessions where we put ideas into practice with ‘design, build and test’ scenarios. I usually play sports or see my friends after dinner around 7 o’clock. Some days are busier than others due to deadlines but as long as you stay on top of work it is easily manageable.  

What is the best thing about your course? 

The best thing about my course is that we get to learn about all aspects of Engineering. Engineering is not a subject you study in school before going to University so you may not truly know what area of Engineering you want to specialise in. At Oxford, you study all areas in the first two years, so by the third year you have a better idea of where your interests lie. This also means you pick up a huge variety of skills which can be applied to the outside world.

Student Ambassador- Sian

Hello! I’m Candy and I’ve lived in Lincolnshire since I was 3. I attended Kesteven and Sleaford High School and stayed for sixth form there as well. I am now in my final year studying BA Music at Lincoln College, Oxford.

Funnily enough I didn’t choose Lincoln College just because I’m from Lincolnshire, but I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else now! In addition to music, I like to dabble in creating art with all sorts of other mediums from pencil and paper, to pixels and film. I also have a strong interest in volunteering, the opportunities for which have been plentiful at Oxford.

What advice would you give to anyone from the East Midlands considering applying to Oxford? 

Other than the usual motivational advice such as ‘believe in yourself!’ and ‘you’re capable of more than you think!’, a practical piece of advice would be to not be afraid of making contact! If you are interested in a certain topic, email the professors. Show your enthusiasm and you might get some interesting information or advice back that might help you in deciding whether to apply. 

How did you find moving away from home?

Whilst quite a lot of students preparing to move away from home are often understandably quite nervous, I was actually very excited to start this new chapter. I had gotten quite bored with the familiar surroundings of my town in Lincolnshire and longed for some excitement in the city! I think Oxford has a good balance between the busy atmosphere of a city, and the calmer parts which are more like what I was used to at home. This meant that the move was less intimidating compared with what a move to London might have been like! It was useful that I got to see this for myself by visiting beforehand. 

I took part in the UNIQ summer school program where I met plenty of other students just like me.

Why did you apply to Oxford?

I honestly didn’t think Oxford was for me when I started thinking about university in the summer before year 12. Like many of my peers, it seemed like a far-fetched goal and I didn’t think I would fit in; we all know how important the new friends you make at university are to your experience there. It wasn’t until I took part in the UNIQ summer school program where I met plenty of other students just like me, with the same anxieties. I only applied to this program on a whim because it was one of the few opportunities of its kind offering music as a subject and thought it would enhance my personal statement. I’m glad I took this chance otherwise I probably would have never realised that I indeed had the capacity to make a good application to Oxford and flourish here.

Student Ambassador- Candy