The sickening rush of results day is over, and you’ve made it! Congratulations. It’s soon going to start to sink in that you’ve actually got to come and do the degree now. As a seasoned finalist, preparing to retire to the library for my last year, I feel it’s time to impart some words of wisdom to the new generation.
It won’t be long until a terrifyingly heavy-weight reading list will be sent your way, particularly if you’re studying a humanities subject. Receiving multiple pages demanding I read forty 800-page novels before I even got to Oxford definitely threw me off straight away. Don’t worry: no-one’s going to have read all of it. The status of Oxford and Oxford students often leads students to worry that everyone will be more confident, more clever, and find the transition to university easier than them – this isn’t the case.
On top of the stress-inducing spam from your college, you’ll also be contacted by your college parents. At Oxford, we all have college families: students from the year above are assigned adoptive first years as their children. They’re there for you to ask all the questions you need – nothing is too obvious or embarrassing: Oxford is an incredibly confusing place. With this in mind, you’ll need to find a spouse pretty soon once you get here, ready to accept your kids next year. No pressure!
The status of Oxford and Oxford students often leads students to worry that everyone will be more confident, more clever, and find the transition to university easier than them – this isn’t the case.
If you’re stressing out, join Freshers’ groups on Facebook – not just the main University one, which mostly posts about club nights, but your college offer-holder page. You’ll be able to find the other students taking your subject at your college, and chat to them about how they’re finding it. It’s not a competition – as soon as you accept you’re (cue Zac Efron) all in it together. If you’re dreading the constant clubbing of Freshers’ week, don’t – colleges put on non-drinking events every night too, so there’s no need to think you’ll be isolated if you don’t club.
Headlines and shock-stories about Oxford inevitably relate drug-fuelled rich kids – think Posh – wreaking havoc on a historic city, but it’s safe to say they’re in the tiny minority and chances are you’ll never come across them. While there is most definitely an imbalance in students from state and private schools, this doesn’t mean the student body is dominated by cocaine-snorting, pig-molesting maniacs. Join college clubs and university-wide societies, get stuck into what you’re passionate about, and you’ll find your people.
Two words: imposter syndrome. This isn’t a phrase of my invention, but is common in Oxford-lingo. You’re going to get here, and it might not be as easy as you’d hoped. You won’t be top of the class anymore, and you’ll have more on your plate than you’ll ever be able to cope with. You’ll probably question whether you should have applied in the first place, and whether you can stick with it. But you’ve been chosen by your tutors to come for a reason, so don’t worry about it: everyone feels the same at some point.
Final words? Don’t stress – you’ll be doing enough of that over the next three years to last you a lifetime. And make the most of your time here, because it’s going to be over before you know it.