As a US applicant, is applying to Oxford or Cambridge a good idea?

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As a US applicant, is applying to Oxford or Cambridge a good idea?

Unread post by Matrix » 16 Jan 2021, 11:31

Hi. International under the American system applying to Cambridge this year, and I've been researching so much that my counsellor literally consults me for UK system information. I'm not sure how much you know but the main distinguishing things are these:

there's no such thing as a "major", your degree is your degree and you apply to that degree and don't switch degrees (unless it's obvious that they're related like doing PBS then switching to HSPS at Cam)

Americans find themselves disadvantaged in the sense that UK students have already studied their chosen subject like 2-3 years in advance, so those under the American system are a lot less knowledgable

you apply to your department in your college; basically, you're not evaluated by a committee, rather you're evaluated purely by academics (aka your future profs); this means that 1. if you're a well rounded person with no real speciality, you're fucked and 2. if you're a savant in your subject but shit at sports, then you have a good chance

offers are made purely based on academics; for Cam, you will be needing 5 AP 5's and high marks on the SAT/ACT (check their website), for Ox you will need at least 3 AP 5's; you'll also have to demonstrate that you've been going above and beyond your subject (supercurriculars rather than extracurriculars) and you'll have to ace the interview

you can only apply to either Cam or Ox in the same application round, so make sure your course is the right fit (I cannot stress this enough); for example, PPE vs. HSPS, or Human Sciences vs. PBS (they might look the same, but they have small differences and understanding those differences is crucial)

I could go into more stuff about the Personal Statement and the collegiate system, but there's just so much shit to say, because the US and UK systems are so radically different. Some people who are Harvard material are rejected from Cambridge because they seem waffle-y and unfocused while Cambridge material students are rejected from Harvard because they just seem score-obsessed. Obviously, these are NOT the types of student you have to be to get into either school, but there is a very different type of student that they're looking for.

TheStudentRoom is the UK equivalent to CollegeConfidential (and is a lot less toxic), plus, a lot of Admissions Tutors frequent the site! If you have any questions, you can ask me because I've combed through every inch of the university sites.

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