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Autism to Oxford?

thekoyaanisqatsithekoyaanisqatsi Registered User Posts: 10 New Member
edited October 2013 in United Kingdom
I previously posted in another forum, but do not think it was the correct one.

My question involves a bit of background, so please bear with me while I explain. I am currently an honors candidate in the School of Pacific and Asian Studies at the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa (a highly respected university to study Asia; a great deal of reading material at Oxford is UH published), pursuing my senior thesis research.

Throughout the early years at university, my advisors and professors were having a very hard time understanding why my grasp of concepts and knowledge of the material was so high, but my grades did not at all reflect it; they were quite sporadic. For example: I would often obtain highly competitive recommendations from professors who's classes I received C and D marks in. I was eventually referred to the testing center toward the middle of my junior year where I unfortunately was diagnosed with high functioning autism.

Since then, I have undergone a number of treatments and learned methods of coping with the problems I had been having but was too stubborn and proud to acknowledge. I am happy to say that I have made great progress: I have been accepted as an honors researcher under a highly respected professor in my field, been elected as sole representation of my college to the student government, been appointed to academic review committees (where I help decide on students scholarship and research grant awards), received grants, and entered a number of honors societies and professional associations. I even speak pretty high levels of Japanese, Hawaiian, and French.

Today I am confident in my abilities and even more confident that Oxford University is exactly where I want and need to be to move forward with my research (I've investigated them all the way down to individual course syllabus and am absolutely sure). However, I am deeply concerned that the marks I received before my diagnostic intervention have blackened my record to the point of no return. I am expected to graduate with an Upper-Division honors degree this December, after presenting my thesis, with roughly a 3.34 GPA, far below Oxford's 3.5 minimum.

I am aware the Nissan Institute for Japanese Studies last year had 34 graduate applicants (of high caliber) and 20 offers, which is technically a very good odd, but with my GPA below the minimum, is it worth it to even apply? Or will they see my scores above my other accomplishments?
Post edited by thekoyaanisqatsi on

Replies to: Autism to Oxford?

  • collegemom3717collegemom3717 Registered User Posts: 5,589 Senior Member
    You should contact the researchers at the Oxford college that you are interested in. Oxford is looking for the students with the most potential, more than grade point average. Your average post-diagnosis/treatment may be seen as more relevant anyway.
  • Slurpee64Slurpee64 Registered User Posts: 59 Junior Member
    I agree with collegemom3717, but unfortunately don't have any additional advice to contribute. However, as the parent of a student on the autistic spectrum, I would greatly appreciate knowing more about the treatments you had and methods you learned for coping with your issues. When you say "my grasp of concepts and knowledge of the material was so high, but my grades did not at all reflect it," you are describing my own son to a tee. Perhaps you would consider contributing to this post in the learning disabilities forum: http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/learning-differences-challenges-ld-adhd/1516051-underperforming-aspie-cognitive-behavioral-therapy.html

    Thank you in advance, and very best of luck in your application to Oxford!
  • thekoyaanisqatsithekoyaanisqatsi Registered User Posts: 10 New Member
    I have undergone a number of treatments, not to include being involved with a young adult ASD support group; there are only three of us, but it has been incredible. Being an autistic mother, you can likely understand the shear amount of research we do on seemingly inane things. I've read forums, Oxford pamphlets and statistic records, I've read the entire syllabus for different courses, I've even contacted members of the faculty and the offices of Oriental Studies and the Nissan Institute for Japanese Studies, as well as the general Graduate Admissions Center. No one can give me an answer, and very few have even replied to my inquiries.

    At this point, I do not know what to do. Oxford is where I should be, and need to be, but it appears I may be out of luck. .2 under the required GPA is too large a gap even with a highly successful final semester.
  • collegemom3717collegemom3717 Registered User Posts: 5,589 Senior Member
    It's not about luck! Oxford looks for potential, and they are aware of extenuating circumstances. They also look for passion and commitment, so if Oxford really is where you should be you will push past the uncertainty/discomfort and apply. Don't over-focus on the negatives, but look for ways to separate your pre-diagnosis marks from your post-treatment ones. Think of it as getting glasses or a hearing aid. Make your application about your strengths, not your weaknesses.
  • thekoyaanisqatsithekoyaanisqatsi Registered User Posts: 10 New Member
    I do understand the search for potential. My worry though, from what I hear from these boards, is that admissions throws out applications that do not meet minimum GPA requirements and I am .2 below. Thank you though for your message. Regardless, I will apply and do my best, I just worry greatly that my hard work and treatment success will go unrecognized due to the fact that I've only made visible progress over a relatively short period of time. One semester of 4.0 doesn't a trend make.
  • nordicbluenordicblue Registered User Posts: 171 Junior Member
    I really do not know if Oxford will take you, I suspect not but you never know. I do not understand why you are so fixated on Oxford? SOAS is at least comparable to Oxford in the field of Asian Studies. You say you speak French, so what about the Institut National des Langues et Civilisations Orientales in Paris?
  • thekoyaanisqatsithekoyaanisqatsi Registered User Posts: 10 New Member
    Thank you for your response. The Nissan Institute at Oxford has professors I am deeply interested in working with.
  • rescuelullabyrescuelullaby Registered User Posts: 121 Junior Member
    While I agree that Oxford looks for potential, I do want to offer a word of caution - there are obviously multiple applicants per place at Oxford. But the minimum requirements are just that - minimum requirements. If you were to be shortlisted & interviewed, those you'd be "competing" against would likely have scores well above the minimums. 3.3 GPA when the minimum is 3.5 is much lower than where most successful Oxford applicants fall, to be completely frank.

    Extenuating circumstances are of course given weight, but think for a moment about who is more likely to score a place - a bright, brilliant applicant with low scores, or a bright & brilliant applicant with higher ones. The first concern tutors will have at a university like Oxford is whether you can cope and thrive with the coursework; it's very academically rigorous and demanding. Low grades will be a red flag to them.

    I think people on these US forums think Oxford gives less weight to grades and test scores than it actually does. While intellectual potential is incredibly important, grades are one of the ways they ascertain academic potential when deciding who to shortlist and give offers to. This isn't to discourage you from applying, but to try to give you a realistic depiction.

    Try The Student Room - which is the UK version of this site - as well as contacting tutors at Oxford about your situation.
  • thekoyaanisqatsithekoyaanisqatsi Registered User Posts: 10 New Member
    Thank you for your message. Yes, I am seeing from both these responses and the lack of any real response from Oxford, that it is likely a lost cause. There are still other options open, though it is disappointing these issues are pulling me away from what I'd very much like to do. Either way, the honesty and advice on this board has been a great help.
This discussion has been closed.