I am a Korean citizen going to an elite American boarding school. Can I get into Oxford?

Here is my situation:

  • I want to read Philosophy and Theology at St. John’s College, Oxford
  • I have a few teachers that will provide recommendations if necessary that went to Oxford either as a Rhodes Scholar or for an MPhil
  • I am a Korean citizen, but fluent in English and have both parents that attended Ivy League schools in the US for graduate school
  • I absolutely thrive on quality discourse and the reading of primary materials Here are my stats:

Test Scores

  • SATs
    • 1510 2nd time
    • 1490 1st time
    • (should I take it one more time? I’m predicted a 1550+)
  • Advanced Placement scores
    • US History: 5
    • English Language and Composition: 5
    • AB Calculus: 5
  • SAT Subject Tests
    • US History: 720
    • Math II: 770
    • Predicted Literature: 770–800
  • Grade Transcript
    • All A-~A+ until Junior year except for 1 elective course sophomore year and 1 full year course freshman year
    • All Advanced courses Senior year
  • Awards
    • Class of ’68 Grant
    • Recognition of Excellence Award
    • Authentic Scholarship Award
  • Recommendations
    • teachers appreciate my intellectual risk-taking, inquiry, and curiosity. They have also said to appreciate my extensive
      further readings outside of class and that my passion for philosophical inquiry is beyond the classroom and that my
      passion clearly shows. I have gotten comments like, “June is able to bring a philosophical, deeply inquiring bend to
      every topic. I can never escape the level of rigor that she brings to the class.”
    • I will get one from my Advanced US History teacher that has seen significant character and academic growth and will
      no doubt write a good recommendation.
    • I will be getting another recommendation from my Advanced Religion teacher and school advisor that has seen my ins
      and outs, but knows that the teachers at my school appreciate me and will definitely comment on that.
    • I will also be getting a counselor recommendation that is very fond of me and praises me on my intellectualism.
  • Extracurriculars
    • Attended course over the summer at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford and my tutor there said that I do not have to worry
      about getting in to Oxford. I absolutely loved it there.
    • Took a rigorous philosophy summer program at St. John’s College in Santa Fe, NM where we read Aristotle, Plato,
      Ptolemy, etc,. The classes are taught in Socratic fashion, much like the tutorials at Oxford.
    • Will be publishing a book called 99 Readings for the Teen Philosopher
    • Philosophy club: 4 year head (we barely met)
    • Socrates Cafe: philosophy club turned into a elective course I will be teaching for the last semester of senior year
      - I have created a branch in Korea where participants have discussed Plato’s The Symposium and eros
    • The Tavern: Head 1 year, Assistant Head 2 years, Columnist 4 years
      • An interscholastic literature, art, and academic journal
      • I have published extensively
    • The St. Marker: 2 years
      • founded a philosophy column, stopped because I wanted to concentrate on the Tavern
    • Class of ’68 Grant (Junior-Senior year): I received an academic grant from my school to do research
      • I will be researching and creating an extensive ethnographic paper on syncretic shamanism in the Korean
      • I will also be giving a lecture on my research
    • Working as an assistant English teacher at a Korean English Kindergarten that teaches some North Korean refugee
      children: 4 years
    • Pathways Prefect: I am in a high position to assist all Community and Equity related matters at my school
      • one of the highest student leadership positions offered at my school
    • Conferences Attended
      • White Privilege Conference
      • AISNE Conference
    • Published in the LEO: a school academic journal
      • I published mostly about philosophy and anthropology
  • Extra readings
    • I have been logging all the books I’ve read since 2014 on Goodreads. I have written book reviews for most of them. -

      Course related books include:
    • Seneca: On the Shortness of Life
    • Tolstoy: The Death of Ivan Ilych
    • Anonymous: The Epic of Gilgamesh
    • Plato: The Symposium
    • Wilson: The Death of Socrates
    • Plato: Laches
    • Martel: Life of Pi
    • Catapano: The Stone Reader: Modern Philosophy in 133 Arguments
    • Nagel: What Does It All Mean? A Very Short Introduction to Philosophy
    • Botton: On Love
    • Smith: The World’s Religions
    • Botton: Religion for Athiests
    • Fadiman: The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down
    • Hesse: Siddhartha
    • Toibin: The Testament of Mary
  • Side note
    • any college recommendations based on my transcript?
    • What I look for:
      • intellectual rigor
      • difficult undergraduate program with extensive readings
      • professors teaching at the undergraduate level
      • cafes!

Your college counselor at your boarding school is honestly the person who could best answer your question.

You may get more advice posting in the International (UK) section.

Are you taking more APs senior year? You’ve got the basic minimum already. An offer might still be conditional on getting 5s in any APs to come. Don’t bother retaking the SAT unless you also want to improve your chances at US targets.

You need to register for the Oxford Philosophy test in October - I expect you know about that? How you do in that, your Personal Statement about why you want to study Philosophy and Theology, and your teacher’s recommendation (which needs to be about your academic ability and suitability for the course not personal character growth) will all play in to whether you get invited for interview, but you look to have a good shot. The interview itself is then crucial.

Are you planning on applying to any other UK universities? You can add four more to your UCAS application.

Also, you only get 1 LoR. Be sure to get them some info on writing an LoR* for the UK (info available on both the UCAS and Oxford websites).

Review the graded essays you have from this past year to see which best fits the application requirements. If you aren’t happy with them, keep an eye on your assignments in Sept-Oct, so that you have one you are happy with by the mid-Nov deadline.

*and review the info for yourself for writing the Personal Statement.

Also: be sure you have a place to take the PAT organized in time!

@philover: I am a bit confused. Are you applying to Oxford as a student or to become an instructor ?

@philover: If you are a student at St. Paul’s School, did you take advantage of the Eton College program in England ? If so, would you like to share your impressions/experience ?

As I am unfamiliar with Oxford admissions, I cannot answer your chances question. Also, I am unfamiliar with weight given to standardized test scores by Oxford admissions so it is unclear to me as to whether or not you should retake a 1510 SAT score.