Picture this: It’s summer in Oxford. Students dressed in Subfusc, with differently coloured carnations attached to their gowns, are rushing around town to what can be overheard as ‘Schools’, some of them with piles of notes or flash cards in their hands, others vividly discussing peculiar subject matters with their friends and fellow students, but all looking slightly lost in thought... so much, in fact, that they don’t seem to notice (or maybe they’ve just got used to) the masses of tourists that are stopping (and staring) to take pictures of these scenes so rich in living history that everyone appears to forget we are currently writing the 21st century.
Regardless of the season, Oxford certainly is a place that attracts visitors. As a tourist you’ll see the facets of many beautiful streets and picturesque landscapes, but as a student here you’ll soon realise that Oxford has so much more to it than ‘just’ old buildings and Hogwarts libraries. Of all the students and representatives who got back to us in the process of creating this website, not a single answer was quite like another. Every student has their own individual version of Oxford as both a city and university, and with the countless courses available for undergrads and postgrads, as well as the range of different extracurricular activities to choose from, each one of the colleges is able to offer a completely unique experience to every single one of its students. What all answers we received did have in common, though, was the conclusion that Oxford - with all its quirky traditions - bears great potential in guiding you through your academic journey just as much as through your personal one.
With this prospectus, we aim to let prospective applicants (just like yourself maybe?) enjoy a glimpse into what student life at Oxford could really be like. We invite you to look beyond the stereotypical ideas surrounding this peculiar Oxford bubble, and hopefully, the prospectus will make for a useful resource aiding you in making your mind up about whether you can picture yourself as an Oxford student. And who knows... maybe it is you next exam season who fits nicely into the scene we imagined above. All we know as of now is that it could indeed, and without any doubt, be you - regardless of your background... for you will see there is no such thing as an ‘Oxford type’.
Think ‘Oxford’, and you imagine academics, dusty books in labyrinthine libraries, and wearing a strange uniform for exams. As an applicant, my idea of Oxford was based largely on my long-harboured wish to go to Hogwarts! But the past two and a half years have dispelled that narrow impression. Sure, there're enough turrets to take the sting out of being a muggle, but there's far more to the University than its medieval buildings.
When I started looking for contributors for this prospectus, I was inundated with accounts of the opportunities Oxford affords beyond academics and dreaming spires. Of the 131 students who wrote back to me about their experience of studying and living here, not one person wrote about something ‘Oxford-y’. From acapella groups to improvisational comedy, student think tanks to women’s rugby, the breadth of activities the University offers attests to the enthusiasm of its varied student body.
From the website, I hope that you can get a glimpse of an exciting, vibrant environment which supports students getting involved. Oxford is full of possibilities, allowing you to develop your academic work alongside pretty much anything else you could possibly be interested in. It can promise more than beautiful buildings and Quidditch, so it's really about realising the University’s potential as much as your own. Oxford is well and truly what you make of it – and the students in this prospectus have made it their own.