Is Oxbridge for me?
The annual higher education event is an important fixture in the St Helen’s calendar. Alternating between ‘Applying for medicine/veterinary medicine’ and an Oxbridge-focused event, each year we invite students from state and independent schools all across Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire to an informative and inspiring evening to help them make decisions about their higher education.
In 2021, our virtual ‘Is Oxbridge for me?’ event was among the highest-attended in recent years, with 285 state school students representing 35 different schools tuning in to hear a taster lecture from Dr Ben Higgins (University of Oxford), a talk about the admissions process from Dr Sam Lucy (University of Cambridge) and Old Girls from St Helen and St Katharine currently studying at Oxford or Cambridge speaking about their own experiences of student life.
St Helen’s is exceptionally proud to have been able to assist so many young people with their higher education decisions, especially with the often-asked question of what studying at Oxbridge is really like, and demystifying the process of application.
'SHSK’s ‘Is Oxbridge for me?’ event in February welcomed over 460 students from schools across Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire. A short taster lecture by Dr Ben Higgins gave us a sense of the depth of Oxbridge teaching style. It was titled ‘With traitorous gifts’ – How John Milton read his Hamlet, exploring how Shakespeare’s works have evolved over time and the new meaning phrases take on with only slight alterations of wording.
We then heard from Dr Sam Lucy, Director of Admissions at Cambridge, about the competitive application process. Oxbridge’s renowned interview process can sometimes be seen as something alien and impossibly challenging. The panel of SHSK Old (or not so old) Girls which we heard from to finish echoed Dr Lucy’s explanation of the interview as an academic discussion, assuring us that although challenging, it was not alien or impossible… In their experience it had even been enjoyable! Interviews reflect the small group supervisions which take place at Oxford and Cambridge, designed to challenge ways of thinking, testing how you engage with new ideas and respond to questions. The group of past HelKats were studying a range of subjects from Economics to languages and from their responses all seemed to be keeping up a comfortable work-life balance, thriving in their respective courses and colleges.
It was strongly conveyed throughout that the ‘me’ of the event’s title doesn’t need to fit any specific mould. The criteria to apply to Oxford or Cambridge are down to the individual: a genuine love of learning, engagement with questions and an appetite for new ideas. Everyone watching will have left the evening feeling that, if they wanted to apply, Oxbridge could be for them.'