Aug 01

Print this Post

Key piece of advice for Oxbridge candidates #2

Screen Shot 2016-08-01 at 20.48.57

We’re helping Oxbridge admissions candidates by sharing the experiences of successful applicants.

Here’s what one Oxbridge graduate said was the best piece of advice she received.

“My brother said that what they are looking for is for people who are both interested and interesting. That stuck in my head as something I later thought was very true.”


What does being interested mean?

It means demonstrating that you are keen to learn (in the widest sense of the word) about ideas, peoples, events, places. You are curious.

What does being interesting mean?

It’s a side effect of being interested, plus the ability to talk about what’s in your head and is relevant to the conversation at hand (or write about it in your personal statement).

What does that mean in practical terms?

Get curious, as follows….

·      Nothing is off limits in your intellectual wanderings (feel free to stray outside the traditional remit of your subject into an interesting radio programme/TED talk//newspaper article/random book that catches your eye)

·      Don’t assume you know the answer to the gaps in the story

For example, it might seem obvious to you as to why x, y, or z happened, but your obvious might not be the same as other people’s. Ask the question. It might go something like this…

Why… did they do that?/did they go there?/did they make that choice?/now?

What… was the point of that?/was the inspiration?/ changed?/ was important?

When… was the turning point?/did it first make sense?/stop making sense?

How… did they decide?/did they start?/could I find out more?

Who… were the key players?/was important at that time?

·      Leave your head with some empty air time (that is having nothing to do or think about or distract) and ponder what might be the answer to those questions, and how you might find out.

·      Talk things over in person with anyone who will listen, or – if you’re feeling bold – with the big names who are relevant (the internet makes this much easier than it used to be). The internet also makes it easier to find people who will be interested in the same things you are. Go search social media for general interest groups, or for a discussion on a particular thing that’s attracted your attention this week. Someone, somewhere will be talking about it too.

Life is busy so we don’t always get the chance to do the things an interested person would do. Find time (even if it’s just five minutes). It will enrich your conversation at interview. More importantly, if you really are interested, it will be fun.

If  thought of talking about your interesting stuff out loud at interview feels tricky, then follow us (or search #Oxbridgeexperience) for interview tips and other good stuff to make the admissions process less daunting. Please like us if you do, and share to spread the love.

Impetus Coaching helps students applying to Oxbridge and other elite universities, through workshops and 1-to-1 coaching.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.impetuscoaching.net/archives/1774