Hudaa from St Benet's Hall,
What’s your background?
Working Class and from a state school.
What made you want to apply to oxford?
Pave the path for other ethnic minority state school girls
What college did you apply for and why?
Believe it or not, I was not aware of the college system. Thus, little thought went into picking a college. I didn’t understand how each one varied due to my background and limited knowledge towards oxbridge systems. So I did apply to Wadham however, not due to any certain preference
Do you wish there had been more information about the college system and how each one varied so that you could make an informed choice? If you could in all honesty would you go to a different college?
This is a very interesting
question. I am very happy where I am. At the same time, I would have loved to
experience the student life elsewhere. Human nature is though, that the grass
is always greener on the other side. I cant answer if I would go to another
college, AS metioned before, I am still rather unaware about the insights of
the college system and their differences. Which brings me back to your first
question, I wish there had been more information about it.
How helpful were your school in applying?
did all they could in applying in terms of mock interviews and the headteacher
sitting down with me in preparation for the admissions exam. However, as I was
the first ever student of the college since it’s been established to get
in, they too were inexperienced about the whole process. Yet, they were more
than helpful and made sure they did everything they could on their side.
What kind of school background did you have?
How was your family?
Do you think that schools who regularly send pupils to oxbridge have an unfair advantage over school who don't and do you think this perpetuates the cycle of the privileged getting in which can lap frog over those who are just as intelligent but less able to perform in interviews etc simply because they don't know the format?
Yes, typifications play a huge part. I do understand the step of having interview skills. However, with the nature of Oxford, it relies too much on them… therefore, disadvantaging those with limited experience in applying ( I don’t know if I’ve answered this question )
How has your background affected your experience at Oxford?
I am one of the lucky ones. In terms of my religion, it has had no barriers for me. I don’t ever feel left out as my peers respect my decisions e.g. not to drink, not to go clubbing. I think I have learnt from the first year however that I do need to branch out. My state school background has to a certain extent limited my networking opportunities (friends have friends who have friend at other colleges as their school has oxbridge admissions left right and centre)
Do you find it intimidating, that others have this pre-established network? I know I really felt flummoxed by it and felt like there wasn't really a gap for me?
I don’t feel intimidated, I just feel as though I am not making the most of my Oxford experience as the nature of it is to network with different types of people. I don’t know how to approach other colleges without having a middle man there.
Yeah I do know what you mean
Are you self-conscious or embarrassed in some situations?
Nope, represent and confidence is key
Do you find these experiences difficult to talk about with the majority of people?
Do you find/think that colleges differ?
What do you wish your college did better/what do they do well.
I think my
college are extremely welcoming. The community is great and I feel very
comfortable. They accommodate for my several needs. However, there is a big
bubble which you get sucked into ( as mentioned before, limits networking )
Also, private school kids rate and state school kids rate is still shocking for 2020, especially amongst the boys. Freshers, we do not have a single black student
Some colleges are more well known for the state school intake such as mansfield, do you think that it would be better for students' experiences if all colleges aimed to be level and representative rather than some covering certain backgrounds and others covering different ones e.g Wadham renowned for LGBTQ community
I believe all colleges should equally cover all aspects. E.g. if all state schools’ kids apply to Mansfield the competition is sky high, and therefore ironically, it is instigating the cycle as so many kids have a lesser chance… does that make sense?
Are there any non college facilities e.g clubs/societies that help with accesss?
As I used ISOC to help with admissions, I know that they are extremely helpful as they held a conference. I would have been pretty lost without this. However I know Benet’s are really working on access right now.
Do you think societies such as ISOC should have to be providing support for applicants, whilst this is of course helpful, do you think it should be more the place of the university as an institution rather than student led groups?
As much as it should be done from the university, sometimes information coming from an institute can be seen as impersonal and routine. With societies, their aim is to treat applicants as a person, and not a number. I may sound pessimistic, but I don’t think the institution can reach out to applicants on a level that societies do.
Is there any advice you would give to applicants from your background before applying
Do research your college. I have other BME friends who aren’t happy where they are based on feeling excluded due to their background.
I'm sorry to hear that some of your friends aren't happy where they are, in this sense societies can be a good escape but I can't help feeling they shouldn't have to feel like they need to go searching for a community elsewhere. Colleges ought to be balanced in every aspect so that there is a home community for everyone