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Getting into Oxford

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Replies to: Getting into Oxford

  • Twoin18Twoin18 Registered User Posts: 733 Member
    edited February 11
    Also, if you are still in high school (or even if you've just graduated and are taking a year out), it would be a big red flag if your recommendation didn't come from a teacher in your high school. This is about whether you are good to teach, not whether you are good as a lab assistant/researcher. You don't do research as an undergrad in the U.K. So what would your HS chemistry teacher say about you? It sounds from your comments like that might be a barrier to even getting an interview.
  • ripcity0ripcity0 Registered User Posts: 11 New Member
    edited February 13
    I was thinking it would sound better coming from a professor than a hs teacher. But what do u mean u don't do research in undergrad, it might be not part of the curriculum but isn't that a vital part of getting into grad school. As far so I know, doing research on undergrad will help you get into a better grad school. This doesn't proclude me doing research back in the US. Also I'm sure my chem teacher would write a great rec.
  • Twoin18Twoin18 Registered User Posts: 733 Member
    edited February 14
    You don't do research as an undergrad. You are there to learn and take *very* challenging final exams which account for most if not all of your grade. The course syllabus is published (easy to find online - read it!) and that's what you do. If you have extra time you study more for the exams (you would certainly have work/reading to catch-up on in the Christmas and Easter vacations). UK students get into grad school by getting a top first in their finals.

    UK students typically don't do internships etc. As an undergrad I worked in a factory over the summer, my wife led coach tours for seniors around Europe. That paid for our inter-railing trips. We both got PhD places (at Cambridge) just fine, because we got decent firsts. Last summer my nephew worked in McDonalds. A few with connections get better jobs, but I never heard of anyone working at the university over the summer (the rooms are rented out for conferences and American summer programs anyway!).

    In summary, it's an exam based system. So you succeed by being very good at exams.
  • collegemom3717collegemom3717 Registered User Posts: 5,471 Senior Member
    edited February 14
    Although this is still the majority of undergrads in the UK, it is changing @Twoin18. Students looking for law / consultant / finance jobs typically do (paid) 8 week summer internships at the big-name London firms; at the end of the summer they often get the promise of a job when they finish their degree. The process for getting these jobs is pretty formalized: application, online testing, and a day of onsite interviews and situational exercises (I suppose that some do get in just with connections, but that's the path of the students that I know take/took, and seems to be the primary access route).

    Also, I know a small but non-negligible number of science students (physics & biochem in particular) who are doing/have done summer research at their university (which can lead to an unofficial PhD offer before they start final year) and in some cases at research institutes (Crick takes a number every summer, for example). I should add, though, that those students all had high firsts in their mods / first year exams)
  • PurpleTitanPurpleTitan Registered User Posts: 11,748 Senior Member
    Research positions for undergrads (especially during the school year) is still more prevalent in the US than in the UK, however. My understanding is that this is why many Europeans get a Master's before entering an American PhD program.
  • collegemom3717collegemom3717 Registered User Posts: 5,471 Senior Member
    Yes, and good point @PurpleTitan
  • Twoin18Twoin18 Registered User Posts: 733 Member
    Interesting to hear. Not surprising top firms want to lock down Oxbridge students. And exploiting contacts is a very uncomfortable experience for most Brits (I still find it hard). But not so many of the top firms looking at Exeter for my nephew it seems...
  • VickiSoCalVickiSoCal Registered User Posts: 2,856 Senior Member
    Funded summer research opportunities exist in chemistry for sure. Not as many as in the US. A US student could also apply for US based summer research opportunities at other institutions.
  • PurpleTitanPurpleTitan Registered User Posts: 11,748 Senior Member
    @Twoin18, (a little off topic, but)
    consulting firms and banks (and NGOs) recruit both for full-time and internship positions from the feeder schools (Oxbridge, LSE, Warwick, UCL, Imperial--KCL, Durham, and some of the ancient Scottish unis to an extent too).
  • Twoin18Twoin18 Registered User Posts: 733 Member
    Also slightly off topic, but I'm not sure what the limits are in terms of work for student visa holders in the UK and how that might or might not affect summer internships.
  • VickiSoCalVickiSoCal Registered User Posts: 2,856 Senior Member
    My daughter's visa allows full time work over summer.

    Accenture, etc. offer summer placements in US as well.
  • jupiter98jupiter98 Registered User Posts: 312 Member
    Full-time employment is authorized for tier 4 visa holders during the breaks and 20 hours per week during a semester
  • HazeGreyHazeGrey Registered User Posts: 188 Junior Member
    From what I saw from looking at the Oxford career website with my son over the Christmas break, most "real" summer internships are geared towards students just about to enter their final year.
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