“I am an Oxbridge reject, and bloody proud of being one”

“I’m actually really glad I never got an offer”

cambridge Cambridge University oxbridge oxford Oxford University the tab the tab exeter

Ask a few people on campus about the universities they applied to alongside Exeter, and chances are you’ll find that an unusual amount will say, “Oh, and I got an interview at Cambridge.”

This is often followed by, “I’m actually really glad I didn’t get in, though.”

King’s College Chapel, Cambridge

At first, being one of these individuals myself, I felt like that was the bitterness of never receiving an offer talking.

I admit that I was not happy when I got the rejection email. Oxbridge is, after all, esteemed for good reason, and I know my teachers did their best to circulate the rumours that if you had a degree from Oxford, you would not want for good employment.

But now, both after hearing interview/studying horror stories, and attending a less tightly wound university, I’m not so certain anymore.

For anyone who has never had to undergo the potentially catastrophic experience that is an Oxbridge interview, there is some truth to the myths.

I know people who were asked things along the lines of “Why cut a cake into triangles?” or “How does Woolf’s individual use the power of internal focalization in third person narrative reflect upon the subjective modernist style she was writing in?”

And yes, that last one is a direct quote from my own experience, which was met with a blank stare and gaping mouth. The interviews are taxing, and they push students to their limits.

Virginia herself would probably have struggled with that one (maybe)

There is no problem with ensuring that distinguished students with exceptional abilities find a place where they can flourish, but even the interviewers tell you that these complex questions are often aimed at postgraduate students.

The slightly odd questions are asked to assess how you think. I have a friend who was asked: “If you could redesign the human body, what changes would you make?”

Try answering that in less than ten seconds.

Let’s leave those questions for the likes of Mr. Da Vinci

For subjects such as English, students are expected to write at least an essay a week, and the level at which they are expected to perform is significantly higher than what they are used to, meaning one very harsh and significant thing: stress.

This photo is just a bit depressing, frankly

The Wellbeing department within Oxford and Cambridge has incredible amounts of funding as a result of the degree of stress to which students are exposed.

This isn’t to say that mental health isn’t an issue for students in other universities – Exeter places important emphasis on the wellbeing of its students – but the added pressure to do so well in such a competitive environment is unhealthy.

Unrealistic demands are placed upon students, and they are left to their own devices to succeed within a world that is so devoutly dedicated to not just excellence – but perfection.

Although Oxbridge is renowned for their rowing prowess, the capacity for students to dedicate time to these kinds of pursuits is very limited, with the average student having anywhere between 25 to 40 hours of study per week (including private study and contact hours).

We do study pretty hard at Exeter, don’t we?

University living is also meant to be a time for exploring and creating your individual identity, where you can let loose, be that one person that never leaves Timepiece, make time to explore societies that you’ve never tried before; learn how to live independently and meet new people from all over the world.

We come here as students, to learn and get good degrees, but that’s not all that university is about. You need time to craft your interests, and from what I’ve heard from many Oxbridge students, it’s a luxury in places like Exeter.

<3 TP

Don’t get me wrong, Oxford and Cambridge churn out some of the sharpest young minds our generation will see.

There may still be a little bitterness behind the phrase “I’m glad I didn’t get in.” And if you feel like it is a place you belong and can thrive in, then good for you.

But I know that personally, I enjoy having the time to enjoy both my course, and my university life. I am an Oxbridge reject, and bloody proud of being one.