The University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge (collectively known as Oxbridge) are two of the most prestigious universities not only in the UK but in the world. They have a long history, rich in heritage and tradition, that goes back at least nine centuries. They are globally recognised as being places of focus for learning, culture, and for intellectual debate.
It comes as no surprise that with such high esteem, both the universities are highly sought after by new students from all over the world. It’s extremely competitive to get into Oxbridge. In fact, in 2016 more than 19 000 people applied for the 3 200 undergraduate places at Oxford.
These figures are certainly daunting for students who wish to apply to these universities. It is clear that only the best of the best make the cut, so prospective students need to make sure that they really stand out from the immense crowd of applicants.
Children who aspire to study at Oxbridge will often need extra support from their parents, and that is not just about the funding. So here are seven ways that parents can prepare their bright children for a place at these elite universities.
- Start preparation early: To study at Oxbridge, it is not just the early bird that catches the worm, but the early prepared bird. Dr Samina Khan, head of student admissions at Oxford, believes that children should start preparing for Oxbridge at the age of 11, and not just when they reach the sixth form. Children need ample time to develop and master their passion for subjects, which will help give them an advantage over others during interviews and applications. Thus, parents should make sure that their aspiring children start preparation early.
- Provide additional resources: To stand out, prospective students need to show true mastery of and passion for the subject that relates to their desired degree programme. To develop this mastery, students should go over and beyond their high school curriculum. Their parents can support them by funding their specific extracurricular activities, providing them with books and research resources, and allowing them to do voluntary or even paid work. For example, if a student wants to study medicine at Oxbridge, the parent can fund extra science classes, provide them with books and supplies that will increase their skills, and allow them to volunteer at hospitals and other health facilities.
- Inform them of their choices: It is important that children are not just prepared for Oxbridge, but also prepared for the journey to Oxbridge. Children need to know what they need to achieve and how much work they will need to be put in for them to realise their aspiration. By informing children well in advance of the responsibilities of choosing Oxbridge, parents can avoid building too much of pressure on them during preparation. Pressure on any person has damaging effects, but pressure on children to achieve something has lasting negative effects on their young minds and their future. It is also important to know the difference between informing and discouraging children, as you do not want to discourage a child from having an aspiration.
- Take a tour of the university: Parents can encourage an interest in Oxbridge by visiting the institutions with their children. As Dr Khan said, children are growing up in an age of Harry Potter, where the traditions and historical appeal of Hogwarts are appreciated and desired. Unlike Hogwarts, Oxford and Cambridge are real places of learning, but they still have the charm and beauty of tradition and magical gothic architecture. Visiting would create a desire that will encourage children to earnestly put their minds to get a place. Follow the link for more information on visiting and tour times for Oxford or Cambridge.
- Do your own research: The application process is difficult and lengthy. There are forms to fill and documents to get and interviews to prepare for – it is a daunting task for a child. Parents have more experience with filling out forms and doing interviews, so they should find out what they need and start collecting documents well in advance so as to decrease the load on their child. Parents should also do research on funding, scholarships, accommodation and other matters well in advance to prepare accordingly.
- Get them a mentor: Parents do not know everything. Perhaps they did not go to Oxbridge or they did not go to university at all, so they do not know how to advise their aspiring children. Thus, getting a mentor for their children would do wonders by providing them with all the necessary skills and knowledge. The mentor could be an Oxbridge alumnus or even educated in the field of interest, and could help them with the application process, with resources of interest, or even just some good direction and confidence boosting.
- Enroll them in a course or workshop: With 19 000 undergraduate applicants, it would make sense that many prospective students are seeking help when applying to Oxbridge. Thus, there are many courses and workshops available that provide valuable assistance such as developing an outstanding personal statement and how to prepare for interviews. These courses and workshops can also provide important insider information and bursary opportunities.
Parents provide a vital support system when their children are applying to any university. This support system becomes even more important when applying to Oxbridge due to the high amount of applicants, which creates a considerable amount of pressure on children. As you can see, there are several ways parents can make an Oxbridge education possible for their child, which can almost guarantee them to have a bright and prosperous future.
GT Scholars knows the importance of preparing students for Oxbridge and wants to be a helpful part of the journey. We provide a one-day course on how to get into Oxbridge which includes working with Oxbridge graduates, admissions professionals and interview professionals that will show your child how to develop an outstanding personal statement and how to choose a degree course for their chosen career. They will also support your child with preparing for interviews and give advice on A-level subjects and grades required for specific universities and specific courses.
Find out more about the course here. We also provide an excellent mentorship programme which employs a variety of well-educated and knowledgeable mentors that will give your child the edge over any other Oxbridge applicant. You can find out more about the mentorship programme here.