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Getting into Oxford

ripcity0ripcity0 Registered User Posts: 11 New Member
As far as I know, Oxford is one the best schools in the world. And they don't accept high school gpa, all they want are test scores which I have. I want to do chemistry and materials science. Questions are

1. Is it hard to get in as an American (don't give me stats because I know they are pretty good 30% acceptance for chem also, I know someone who didn't get into U of W and went to oxford)
2. Is it worth the money you have to spend, especially being an international student
3. Is the education and name recognition worth for prospective careers
4. Whats up with the interview??????
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Replies to: Getting into Oxford

  • marvin100marvin100 Registered User Posts: 9,646 Senior Member
    edited January 22
    1. Yes
    2. It depends on how much money you have and what you mean by "worth the money."
    3. Again, depends on what you mean by "worth"--it's a premier degree and should open doors, though. But more importantly, it's a premier education and you'll get very educated if you attend and graduate.
    4. The interview is the main criterion for admission. The rest of the app is basically an application for an interview, and the interview is the big decider. It's extremely rigorous and challenging, and usually involves answering big, serious questions about your prospective course of study asked by a group of professors in your subject. Students I know who have attended Oxford have prepared seriously for the interview (by reading lots of books about their field, for example).
    @ripcity0

    PS: Go Blazers!
  • Conformist1688Conformist1688 Registered User Posts: 988 Member
    I don't think you can do both pure chemistry AND materials science at Oxford; you will either have to choose one or the other when you apply, or look at Naturals Sciences at Cambridge instead.

    Yes, it is hard to get in. Acceptance percentage stats are misleading because no one even applies if they don't have great academic qualifications. What exactly are your AP scores and in which subject? I guess you're a junior at present?

    What kind of career do you want? Working as a chemist or scientist is likely to require a PhD. Oxford or Cambridge would certainly give you famtastic preparation for that.
  • sattutsattut Registered User Posts: 907 Member
    British students can apply to either Oxford or Cambridge. US students will often apply to 10 top 20 schools. Hence the higher acceptance rates.

    The cost is higher than instate state school tuition, but significantly lower than private college/university tuition. It is much less for British students, but you essentially need to have the tuition money.

    It is possible that someone who was turned down by a state flagship school would get into Oxford, as Oxford looks mainly at AP exams. It also looks at SAT IIs, its own exam, and the "interview". It doesn't look at GPA, and doesn't look much at SAT I / ACT scores or ECs. You need to be a really strong student to get into Oxford. Just the minimum requirement of 5s on AP exams implies that.
  • VickiSoCalVickiSoCal Registered User Posts: 2,856 Senior Member
    Tuition, room and board is comparable to our instate UC costs.
  • PurpleTitanPurpleTitan Registered User Posts: 11,748 Senior Member
    @VickiSoCal: Oxbridge have extra college charges for Internationals that adds roughly $15K more per year.
  • VickiSoCalVickiSoCal Registered User Posts: 2,856 Senior Member
    UCs are roughly 33 to 35k x 4 years. It worka out pretty comparable.
  • HazeGreyHazeGrey Registered User Posts: 188 Junior Member
    My son is a fresher at Oxford this year and he is doing the most expensive course (yes - the fees vary depending on your degree program). Between university fees, college fees, and room & meals, his all in cost for the year is about $50k. Plus the pound has significantly appreciated over the past year. Was at $1.20 last January, now at $1.41.
  • PurpleTitanPurpleTitan Registered User Posts: 11,748 Senior Member
    edited February 4
    To build on what @sattut said, Oxbridge would only care about your proficiency/potential in the subject(s) you signed up to study. But you likely would have to be at a very high level in that subject. Their own subject tests are tougher than A-Levels, which are generally already tougher than most AP's.

    So I certainly see UW rejecting an applicant who was stellar in a field (and related areas) but had a shoddy GPA (or test scores) in classes/subjects unrelated to his/her field of interest (especially if they are OOS applying to a competitive major like CS) but Oxbridge accepting that applicant.
  • Twoin18Twoin18 Registered User Posts: 733 Member
    To take it to an extreme, an IMO caliber math student with C grades in Spanish and English would almost certainly get into Oxbridge. Even a decent AIME score could be sufficient, since it's very much about the testing and interview.
  • ripcity0ripcity0 Registered User Posts: 11 New Member
    Thanks for the replies
    I have 4 5's in AP Chem, Calc AB, Physics C (both E/M and Mechanics) I still have to take my junior year AP tests so I can add a little
    Act is 33, haven't taken SAT or SATII's
    I am also looking to go far in chemistry olympiad this year but my grades are the very bottom of the barrel. What type of stuff would my personal statement and the interview constitute?
  • PurpleTitanPurpleTitan Registered User Posts: 11,748 Senior Member
    Grades being at the bottom of the barrel is still a concern. Is there a reason for that?
    If the work at HS is too much, what would Oxbridge be like? Oxbridge isn't like HYPS where it's very difficult to get in but not that hard to get out (in part because you can always switch majors to something easier). At Oxbridge, you stay with the program you entered. Or you're out.
  • Twoin18Twoin18 Registered User Posts: 733 Member
    Which grades being "bottom of the barrel" is the issue. I assume you have all As in science/math? If not then that is rather more of a problem. Does your chemistry teacher like you and think you are amazing (capable of getting a good PhD in chemistry is the acid test)? If they think you are lazy (or worse not very talented) then that will be a showstopper.

    Your personal statement would be about how you love chemistry more than anything else in the world, citing things you've done/read outside your school classes. So spending this summer in a lab doing an internship would be a good choice. And you will need to get your chemistry teacher to write you a reference saying (in essence) that you are the best chemistry student he/she has ever taught and that you are very dedicated and go above and beyond in chemistry (explaining that this is why you are less focused on non-science subjects). This is particularly important since you don't do a chemistry-specific test before interview.

    The interview (if you get to that point, after taking the TSA Part 1, though that is just a harder version of the SAT, and nothing to do with chemistry) will be asking you hard questions in your subject and seeing how far you can go in thinking through the problem.
  • VickiSoCalVickiSoCal Registered User Posts: 2,856 Senior Member
    edited February 5
    Agree with above. My daughter applied for chemistry at 5 different UK universities and her personal statement was about her summer work at a top laboratory and her IB extended essay which was in chemistry. It was very different from her US essays. When she interviewed at St. Andrews and Durham they went right to her PS and talked very specifically about things she wrote about.
  • ripcity0ripcity0 Registered User Posts: 11 New Member
    So I got another question, why do people get rejected at Oxbridge if they have all the requirements (like they do well on everything). At HYPS u need to be perfect in both record and ECs but not have ECs like IMO necessarily. If you're not like that perfect student, your probably not gonna get in. CMU and UCB are little more lenient (I have friends who go there). Do people from the US not apply with the requirements and write essays more similar to US application essays and get rejected or do the 50 or so acceptances really come down to placement tests and the interview. Because that seems to inject more luck into the system than I previously thought. From my end I feel like I have everything, I've been doing research with a local university for about 2 years now. Pretty sure he will write a dank rec. I just don't wanna get **** u know?
  • collegemom3717collegemom3717 Registered User Posts: 5,469 Senior Member
    Admissions at Oxbridge is like running hurdles. The first hurdle is the stated requirements- they are the minimum you need to get to the next hurdle. Then comes your LoR and your PS, followed by subject-specific tests (and in many subjects, writing samples). If you pass those hurdles you get to the interview. The interview is a cross between an oral exam in the subject you are applying to study and a tutorial. It typically involves being given material that you are unlikely to have seen before, and then being asked to work through it. The goal is to see how you think, how much you can call on material you do know to help you with material you don't know and (crucially) how you handle the tutorial format. Tutorial learning does not suit everybody- no matter how smart or passionate they are- so it is an important part of the selection process.

    Imo, there is less 'luck' in the UK system for an 'unhooked' applicant than in the US, but admission to Oxbridge is hard b/c of the calibre of the competition. Also, US students are raised with breadth > depth, and are not pushed to focus on a specific path until much older than in the UK. By 16 UK students are picking their 3-4 A level subjects with a strong idea as to what subject and which unis. That focus, and the attendant depth of knowledge in their field is comparatively hard for a typical US student to muster.
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