Access & Outreach/
Myth-busting & FAQs

We understand that thinking about university can be daunting and that perceptions (often misconceptions) about the University of Oxford may be off-putting.

On this page 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 us.

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.

Studying at Oxford is hard work for sure, and we actively encourage students to push themselves intellectually – to be curious and think ‘outside the box’ (cliché claxon!). As the terms are only eight 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.

Members of the JCR enjoying some lively debate

As above, the workload can be hard and will challenge you. 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 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.

Working hard in the College library

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 2020, 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 here 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 Jesus College and Seren Network Summer School student, Joe Phelps. Joe attended the 2018 Summer School and is now studying Physics at Jesus.

There are some occasions where you’ll be required to wear academic dress, but this is usually only for matriculation (the enrolment ceremony to the university), exams, 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.

Most Oxford professors and lecturers 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!

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!

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.

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 for 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.

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!