Four Oakham School pupils – Zsolti, Peter, Alan and Oli – have all received offers to study at Oxbridge following a successful application process.
As part of their preparation, the pupils took part in regular meetings with Dr Sheppard, Senior Academic Mentor, and subject specialists, spent many hours honing their personal statements and reading around their subjects, and participated in multiple practice interviews.
Dr Sheppard said: “The successful candidates deserve our warmest congratulations. The process is an arduous one at the best of times, but in the current situation it is harder still – and as such, is a testament to the efforts first and foremost of the students themselves, but also the teaching, tutoring and mentoring they have received as they have passed through the School.”
Oakham School caught up with all of the successful applicants to talk about their success, their time at Oakham and their hopes for the future.
Zsolti: Computer Science and Maths with a Choral Scholarship – Somerville College
As well as recently qualifying for the British Mathematical Olympiad and performing in 16 productions during her time at Oakham School, Zsolti has chosen to read Computer Science and Maths at Somerville College. Alongside this, she is happy to be continuing in the performing arts with a choral scholarship.
Since Form 1 when Zsolti first entered a Computer Science class, teachers had earmarked her for success. With many predicting that she would one day go to an Oxbridge university, she has always had a clear path to her future.
She said: “It felt amazing to be accepted into Somerville College, but above all else I felt relieved as all of my hard work has paid off.”
“I’ve chosen to study Computer Science and Maths, because I’ve always had a fixation on solving mathematical problems in an algorithmic way. Oxbridge is all about critical and analytical thinking and it’s somewhere I’ve always wanted to be accepted into.”
As Zsolti wanted to apply for a choral scholarship, Somerville College offered the perfect balance of creativity and academia. She added: “Somerville appealed to me the most as it’s known for being very progressive, diverse and accepting, which is very important to me.”
Despite not knowing what her next steps will be when she graduates, Zsolti predicts she may continue with further education and go on to do a PhD. Alongside this, she would like to continue her passion for Drama whenever she can.
Peter: French and German – Lincoln College
Reflecting on his offer, Peter said: “Long before I had even started thinking about university I knew French and German were subjects I would want to study at the highest level possible and so when I was asked whether I would consider applying to Oxbridge, I set this as my target and worked towards it from then.”
“Of course I wanted to fulfil my academic potential but ultimately the most important factor for this decision was not academic talent such as GCSE grades or recent test scores, but my genuine interest in the study of languages.”
Whilst Peter was initially intimidated by the whole application process, he prepared in various ways and took part in various literature competitions to make sure he was able to write critically about what he had read. Through his interviews he still managed to keep up with his academic studies and co-curricular activities, and even did one of his only interviews from a hotel room as he was playing in the Rugby NatWest Cup Quarter-Final on the same day.
On his future beyond university, Peter said: “I have not decided on a particular career path and I think my course leaves me reasonably open, so hopefully I will have a good range of options. I also hope I will have the opportunity to travel around Europe, not only to use French and German, but also to open myself to new cultures and languages.”
“Oakham School sparked my interest in languages from a young age and then helped to build on this. In particular, teachers such as Mr Milner, Mrs Sykes and Dr Sheppard were incredibly supportive and helpful in introducing me to the literature which I believe was of great importance for the success of my application.”
Oli: Biological Natural Sciences – Churchill College
Oli said: “I chose to apply to Cambridge because of its high strength in research and graduate prospects. The course I’ve chosen is very broad, and I don't yet know in which direction I want to go in the sciences, so it seemed like the perfect fit for me.”
Preparing for his interview by drafting personal statements and taking part in pre-interview tests, Oli was ecstatic when he found out he’d been successful in his application.
After joining Oakham School in Form 1, Science hadn’t always been Oli’s strength and wasn’t initially what he thought he’d want to study further.
He added: “My interest and ability became much stronger in the sciences as I went through Middle School, and as I approached Upper School, it became quite clear that this was what I wanted to go into.”
“With the help of Dr Sheppard, Dr Ingles and Mr Foster, I found that this would be the best course for me. These teachers were also very influential in preparing me for the application, for example with my personal statement, and arranging practice interviews.”
Alan: Music – Jesus College
Alan said: “The Universities of Oxford and Cambridge represent the pinnacle of academia, so it feels unreal to be able to study there. I am also fond of the rich culture that both have had, which encouraged me to at least attempt joining such a ‘flow of history’.”
“Getting into Jesus College felt exhilarating; it felt like I was dreaming when I got accepted.”
Alan took part in several sections for his application, including creating a personal statement, submitting essays and compositions, and taking part in mock-interviews.
The Music course at Cambridge includes components of virtually all academic areas of music, i.e. musicology, composition, dissertation, etc. from which Alan can choose to study. As the terms go on, there are more optional courses Alan can choose to take that focus on more narrow aspects of music, such as Beethoven’s Late String Quartets.
On his time at Oakham School, Alan said: “The biggest support I have had from Oakham School, apart from administrative and pastoral help from the Careers Department and house staff, are academic staff, especially Mr Davis, Dr Sheppard, and Dr Chilton. They have all been immensely helpful and encouraging when it comes to decision-making, and work being submitted. I couldn’t have achieved this successful application without their help.”
Looking ahead to when he graduates, Alan added: “Music is quite a broad area of study, so there is no pinpoint on exactly what I want to pursue. But if given the chance I’d gladly compose music for films and video games!”
Oakham School’s Careers Department provides guidance and support to countless Oakhamians every year, as they navigate their way through the university application process.