We understand that thinking about university can be daunting and that perceptions (often misconceptions!) about the University of Oxford may be off-putting. Here we have tried to collate a list of the most common ‘myths’ or questions we get asked by undergraduates about the University.
If you have any questions specifically about Jesus College - and can’t find the answer on our website – do contact our Access team.
Myth: The entry requirements are much higher than other universities.
Truth: Entry requirements for Oxford are comparable with any other Russell Group universities and many of the top Universities in the UK. You will require three A-Levels at grade A or equivalent and some subjects will require A*s and/or entry qualifications in specific subjects. Although A-Levels are taken by many applicants, you can also apply with equivalent qualifications. You can find further information about undergraduate entry requirements here.
Q: Will I have time for social activities?
A: Studying at Oxford is hard work, we won’t deny that and actively encourage students to push themselves intellectually – to be curious and think ‘outside the box’ (cliché claxon!). As the terms are only 8 weeks long, it can be quite intense at times, but you should still find the time to socialise and get involved with clubs and societies. In fact, we highly recommend you find some kind of activity that enables you to take a break from studying and enjoy some wellbeing time… with over 200 University societies, as well as many college societies, there should be something for everyone.
The Junior Common Room (JCR) – the undergraduate members of College, a bit like a mini students’ union – have a great social area for undergraduates to meet, hang out, grab a snack or make use of the table tennis and pool tables. Each college also has its own bar where the prices are usually much cheaper than the city pubs and bars! You can find out about all things social for undergraduates at Jesus on the JCR website.
Q: What is the welfare support like?
A: As above, the workload can be hard and will challenge you: that’s why you’re here; however, it is manageable and there are plenty of services to support you if things become a bit overwhelming or you think you might be struggling. The University provides Oxford Counselling Service and jointly supports the Oxford Nightline with Oxford Brookes University. Both services offer completely confidential support to students.
At Jesus College we have fantastic support services to help you as and when you might need. You can find all the details here. Furthermore, our wonderful JCR oversee a variety of welfare initiatives including Welfare Reps, Peer Support and welfare events: you can find out more here.
So, please be reassured that if you need support or just somebody to talk to, then there’s definitely someone at the College who can help you.
Myth: Oxford isn’t for people like me.
Truth: Oxford’s world-class education is available to all with the academic ability and potential to benefit from it; however, we recognise there is much work to be done to make this a reality for all prospective students in the UK. This is why the University and its Colleges offer an extensive range of outreach programmes aimed at improving the diversity of the University.
The fact is, the vast majority of students (and all tutors) do not care what background you’ve come from. When interviewing prospective students, tutors are primarily interested in your academic potential, not how well you dress or your regional accent. In 2018, Oxford offered more places to state school students than ever before: we want you for your intellect and enthusiasm not your wallet or family name! Moreover, if you get to Oxford you’ll soon realise everyone is there for similar reasons: to explore and excel in their subject and achieve their degree. You’ll soon discover you have far more in common than that which sets you apart!
Still think you're not Oxford? Then have a read of this fantastic blog from former Jesus College and Seren Network Summer School student, Joe Phelps. Joe attended the 2018 Summer School and now has an offer to study Physics at Jesus in 2019!
Myth: Students wear uniforms or gowns a lot.
Truth: There are some occasions where you’ll be required to wear academic dress but this is usually only for matriculation – a ceremony in which you officially become a member of the University, exams (although you can take off your gown and tie as soon as you get in the exam hall) and graduation. As at most universities there are also some formal events where you might want to dress a bit ‘fancy’ or smart. Other than that, there are no formal requirements.
Myth: Oxford professors are old-fashioned and formal.
Truth: Most Oxford professors and lectures are friendly, welcoming and approachable. Tutors have a great deal of respect for their students and value their opinion. Don’t forget: they’re human just like the rest of us, and are interested in eliciting the best from you academically and encouraging you to fulfil your potential. They will want to challenge you academically but only to bring out the best in you!
Myth: At interviews the tutors will try to catch you out with weird questions!
Truth: The interview process is demanding and you may be asked some unusual questions that go beyond your school curriculum. But be assured the process is not designed to trip you up! Our tutors want to assess how you think and how you approach a problem or question that might not be familiar to you. To get the most out of studying at Oxford you need to be able to think critically and independently: that’s what we’re looking for during your interview, not necessarily the ‘right’ answer. Don’t worry if you get the wrong answer or if you make a mistake – that’s completely normal and everybody finds their interviews hard. Don’t be put off by people who claim their interviews were easy or horrible!
Q: Are University of Oxford fees more expensive than other universities.
A: For UK-based students, the tuition fees at Oxford are in line with most other universities. Moreover, your financial background should not be a reason why you can’t go to university (Oxford or otherwise)! Oxford offers extensive funding and scholarship opportunities for students from lower socio-economic backgrounds; you can find more information here. If you are from a low-income background or think you may struggle financially due to personal circumstances, then do talk to us – we’ll do our best to help/advise where possible.
Q: Can I have a job while I study at Oxford?
A: Due to the intense nature of the 8-week terms, you are not permitted to work during these times. HOWEVER, as per the fees section above, we do understand that financial worries can be an issue for many students. As mentioned, there are University scholarships and bursaries for eligible students, and at Jesus College we have various scholarships, bursaries and funds to support students from lower-income backgrounds – have a look here or more details. Moreover, there are some opportunities for paid work at the University and College, including working for the UNIQ schools, helping at Open Days and staffing the College bar.
The important thing to remember is that your financial background should not be a reason why you can’t go to university! So please talk to us sooner rather than later if you think finances may be an issue.
Myth: I have to be a Christian to apply to Jesus College.
Truth: Sometimes people wonder if the name ‘Jesus’ College means that the College is only for Christians. This is not the case! Jesus College welcomes those of any faith or none. The name is a historic one from the date of our foundation in 1571 at the instigation of the Treasurer of St David's Cathedral in Wales. All are welcome in the Chapel and as a College we have celebrated various religious festivals. For example, in November 2018 we held several days of celebrations for the Hindu festival of Diwali, a film of which you can watch here!
The College has a multi-faith room and prayer room and the Chapel is welcoming to all. We also hold regular inter-faith groups covering various topics and discussion. A good number of Oxford colleges have historic names linked to the origins of their founding, such as Christ Church, Corpus Christi, Magdalen and St Peter’s. That does not mean your own faith — or not following any faith — should stop you applying. You will be welcome in our College communities!