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Colleen Cumbers

Oriel College, Oxford


English Literature

Currently studying:

BA French and German
In September, I will commence an LLM

My favourite memory from Sixth Form:

Getting involved in projects such as Erasmus+ and having more autonomy and voice (both academically, through things such as the EPQ and socially, through Council and tutoring younger students) made Sixth Form feel like a real bridge between school and university, where you could begin to develop as an adult

What I love about studying at Oxford:

You are surrounded by highly intelligent fellow students as well as tutors who are world-experts in their fields

You are pushed to your maximum which, whilst challenging, is incredibly rewarding

The tutorial and college systems mean that you are one of just a few students as opposed to one of hundreds. As a result, you have personal relationships with your tutors, so they really care about you and your progress

Being at one of the best universities in the world, you are in high demand from employers, meaning that it is easier to get work experience, internships and job offers

Oxford is a beautiful city, steeped in tradition, which offers an incredible life beyond academics: the people you meet, the clubs you can become part of, the events that you can attend etc. – it really is a once in a lifetime opportunity

Top tips for university applications:

Be ambitious with your university choices. Even if you think you have a 1% chance, that is still better than the 0% chance you will have if you do not apply

Play to your strengths in your applications. If you know that you are better at exams, then look at universities which focus on UMS points. If you are better at interviews, look for universities which interview a high proportion of candidates

In your personal statement, focus on academics and, especially, on things which you have done of your own initiative (summer schools, competitions, extra reading, courses etc.) – build these experiences up during the summer before applications

Do not simply list things that you have done or that you have read. Pull out the skills you have learned, any ideas or interests which have developed etc. You are selling yourself, not just telling them your story

If invited to interviews, be open and honest. Don’t try to be someone you are not or to give answers that you think the interviewers want to hear; they want to find out about you