Letters from Oxbridge: Advice Post-Offer Day

Posted a year ago

It might feel like the winter of discontent has finally ended with all potential Oxbridge applicants, having waited all term (perhaps rather anxiously) now have prized open their letters of fingers crossed acceptance. Unless the Oxbridge Admissions Offices have cut the notion of letters out of the process and streamlined to modern emailing? In which case, my apologies for seeming archaic.

In a way, I can’t help but be archaic: I opened my letter of acceptance letter to studying at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge back in January 2007! 2007 seems like a lifetime ago and takes me back to all sorts of memories (stumbling awkwardly in heels at 2 am on the same dark cobbled streets I witnessed professors reading books with torchlights strapped to their heads). Yes, those were my crazy, Uni days and it all began with that piece of paper.

I’ve actually got an embarrassing collection of “I can’t believe I got in” pictures (which I sincerely hope that none of your family members snapped on your behalf like my brother did) - snap after snap of wailing and waving the crisp white letter of acceptance in my hand. It’s clichéd I know but, like most of the fresher's acquaintances that have become my treasured friends, I really didn’t think I would get in. So, like you probably have been doing over the last couple of weeks or days, I thoroughly enjoyed the euphoria of my achievements. What’s better than a bit of academic validation to welcome in 2017?

I recommend lots of smiling, internal whooping but with a disclaimer: don’t let it go your head because this does mean it’s time to get your game face on. The Oxbridge will seep into your nervous system as one of the most formative experiences you’ll ever have and never quite leave it. For most of you, you’ll need to secure that conditional offer first, and then you’ll need to keep plugging away while you’re there. I wanted to convey this word of caution on the behest of my friend who was whatsapped me to adamantly remark that I should “Tell them this it's not going to be what you think it will be: it’s going to be harder academically and emotionally (but I met the best people!)”.

Mental preparation is something you’re probably already experiencing in some way, I definitely did. You have to remember that whether you realise it or not that your decision to embark on the ‘Oxbridge’ journey was always a crazy notion and it’s crazier still that you’ve decided to go through with it. My three years at Cambridge were incredibly intense, filled with academic highs and lows but some of the most character defining years of my life. You honestly will meet the most wonderful people who will give you the ability to walk away empowered to ask deeper questions, develop more creative solutions in your life and embrace all avenues of possibility. Nothing good comes from an easy route ;-)

I’ll end with two simple messages:

For those who applied and got rejected: Oxbridge is Oxbridge, it’s not the Grim Reaper encroaching your life. You took the brave route to applying which takes courage and that courage is a skill that will prove more valuable when you venture out into the world or indeed approach the rickety joints and wrinkle starting age of 28 like me.

For those who applied and got accepted: Congratulations, you’re in for a crazy ride with a whole host of other crazies but, to paraphrase Kerouac, those are all the ones worth knowing. It’s not easy, you must prepare to take a few knocks just like anyone else going into Higher Education, but take it in your stride as best you can.

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