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What are my chances for Oxford PPE as an American?

LetsGetInSeminarLetsGetInSeminar 1 replies1 threadsRegistered User New Member
edited July 16 in United Kingdom
Hello all,

I am an American high schooler looking to read PPE at Balliol College, Oxford next year. Given that the admission process is somewhat harder for international applicants, I am somewhat worried about how my stats stack up with my fellow applicants.

My AP Scores:

Sophomore Year:
World History - 5
European History - 5
Human Geography - 5

Junior Year:
English Language - 5
United States History - 5
Comparative Government - 5
Macroeconomics - 5
Microeconomics - 5

I will be taking the following AP classes/tests senior year:
English Literature
United States Government
Art History
Psychology
Spanish

I also have the option of taking Envrionmental Science, and either Calculus BC or Statistics. Would ES bring any more substance to my application, and which math option would be more relevant to the course?

TSA Practice Test: 36/50
SAT I: 1560/1600
French Subject Test: 760/800
Math II Subject Test: 780/800

I know that Oxford does not really care much for extracurriculars, but I do feel these could be somewhat relevant for my application:

Model UN: 4 Years
Debate: 4 Years
Spanish Club: 3 Years
Student Government: 2 Years
Other than English, I speak Spanish, Portuguese, and French, if this helps my application.
I have also volunteered hundreds of hours for local politicians, some of whom may be willing to provide a recommendation.

I am also exploring the option of potentially doing a gap year between high school and college. How would I go about this?

On another note, what funding opportunities are available for me? At the moment, I only have some money from a National Merit scholarship, and my parents will only be able to fund half of it. I plan on taking out loans if offered a place.

The Oxford website itself is somewhat ambiguous on the topic of transcripts. It says that "Successful candidates from the USA would typically have an excellent High School record supplemented by." My transcript is not the best; Not bad per se, but it would not be considered "excellent." Does this hurt my chances? They do state that the transcript should only be sent after being admitted.
edited July 16
10 replies
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Replies to: What are my chances for Oxford PPE as an American?

  • collegemom3717collegemom3717 6700 replies57 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    = Absolutely do Calc BC
    = ES is irrelevant
    = What they will care about is how well suited you are for PPE.
    = Your stats are fine (obviously!), and the TSA score is critical for getting an interview.
    = Once you get to interview all bets are off. Note that despite all the APs you have, they are still allowed to make any offer 'conditional' on scores from your Senior year APs.
    = Don't worry about your transcript. Really.

    However.
    The money is a real issue: there will be no funding from Oxford, and you are looking at ~50K/pa. You can get the ~$5K FAFSA loan, but I don't know where you Ias a student) can borrow the rest- or if that is a good plan.
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  • MYOS1634MYOS1634 41872 replies451 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Calc BC!
    Don't take APES.
    No funding. What's your parents' budget for College?
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  • HazeGreyHazeGrey 220 replies4 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Oxford/his college never requested a HS transcript from my son. Only official AP/ACT score reports.

    A third on the CalcBC. Look at the PPE course description and their recommendations around math.

    Find the TSA past papers and try one to see how you do.

    Look online for past PPE interview questions as well as mock PPE interviews to get a flavor for what it will be like. Definitely spend time reading the WSJ, FT and Economist on a regular basis to be prepared for December if you get that far.

    One of the most oversubscribed courses at Oxford.
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  • Conformist1688Conformist1688 1126 replies25 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Everything everyone else has said.

    Just to add, a politician's recommendation is not what you need. Yuour rec should be from one of your teachers, and about your academic ability.

    I fear the finances may be unmanageable, though.
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  • collegemom3717collegemom3717 6700 replies57 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Good catch on the LoR, @Conformist1688
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  • LetsGetInSeminarLetsGetInSeminar 1 replies1 threadsRegistered User New Member
    Thank you all for your advice,
    With scholarships and FAFSA, I am estimating the tuition itself to be around 25k per year. My parents can pay for this, but I may have to work in order to pay for other expenses. A loan would help in that regard, but it isn't ideal. There is a small college fund of about $8000 that could relieve me from working, but only for the first year.
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  • sgopal2sgopal2 3483 replies49 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    I don't think you will be eligible for the financial aid offered by Oxford. These are typically for UK/EU residents. For US residents, you will be expected to pay in full.

    Yearly tuition fees are about $36K USD. Then add on travel/room/board, it will be close to $50K per year. If thats not feasible for your parents, then look at other options.
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  • sgopal2sgopal2 3483 replies49 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    The maximum loans you can take as an undergrad is about $5K per year. There are private loans available, but much harder to get without collateral. If your parents own their home, it is possible to take a 2nd mortage (or line of credit) for additional money per year.
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  • MYOS1634MYOS1634 41872 replies451 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Also, as an American in the UK, I'm not sure you're allowed to work. (International students in the US are only allowed to work on campus, they're not allowed to have a job such as at Walmart or in a nearby diner...)
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  • Twoin18Twoin18 1585 replies17 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited July 20
    You aren’t allowed to work in term time, and you should set aside a week or two at Christmas and Easter to catch up and prepare for the following term. So you can really only work in the summer. That may mean coming home since you can’t stay in college rooms over the summer (though if you are living out in the second year you may be able to stay in the summer between years two and three).

    Also I suspect any offer would be conditional on a 5 in Calc BC, so make sure you have US backups.

    In terms of recommendations I was chatting with a retired fellow over dinner at college last week who had previously been responsible for admissions. He said they automatically downgraded American references by “at least two notches” because they were so over the top compared to the more restrained British references. So comments like “best student in this subject in the last five years” are somewhat expected. Fortunately in your case the TSA score will outweigh anything else in terms of getting an interview, it’s the subjects without a pre-test where the reference becomes critical.
    edited July 20
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