This week’s blog is from Dr Matthew Williams, Access and Career Development Fellow at the University of Oxford, and first year Oxford student Lois from Morfa Nefyn in north Wales.
At Oxford University we take enormous joy from asking big, mind-bending questions. So if you love thinking about the many mysteries of the universe, then you’d fit right in!
This August, one of the university’s colleges (Jesus College) is hosting 22 Seren learners for a summer school. The summer school is in collaboration with the Welsh Government and the Seren Network. Everything is entirely free for you. We’re going to be asking and trying to answer some very big questions! The theme of the summer school is ‘Our Future’, and we will be hosting lectures from the world’s experts on what the future may bring in terms of climate change, information technology, politics, demography, and even literature. You do not need to be studying or intending to study any particular subject, you just need to be interested in what’s over the horizon!
As a specific example, Oxford’s ‘Future of Humanity Institute’ has agreed to give a lecture for the summer school on what risks to our survival will likely emerge in the coming century. We have also secured a talk from an expert on climate patterns to talk about our environmental future.
The main aim with the summer school is to dispel the myth that ‘Oxford isn’t for people like me…’ Oxford is for anyone who loves learning. If you don’t believe, me take it from Lois, a first year student from Wales:
In my first year at sixth form, I was encouraged by my teachers to think about applying to Oxford. What?! I thought. Oxford isn’t the place for someone like me! As a first year now studying French at Jesus College, I can confirm that I was wrong.
But why did I think this? My teachers obviously believed that I had the potential, or else I wouldn’t have been encouraged to apply. It was most likely because I hadn’t heard of many people from my area that had been through the process of application, let alone people who had been students there. So, it just wasn’t something that had crossed my mind.
No, not everyone knows exactly what they want to do or where they want to go at the age of sixteen, I definitely didn’t.
But, I decided to sign up for one of the Modern Languages Open Days at Oxford in May of lower-sixth, as by then I knew I was interested in studying French. I remember the long car journey I took from the small village of Morfa Nefyn to the City of Dreaming Spires, not really knowing what to expect. I must admit I was sceptical at first, but as I walked down the High Street towards the open day event at Examination Schools my uncertainty disappeared.
Captured by Oxford’s charm, I instantly knew that I wanted to apply. The place was full of students of all backgrounds, young people just like me, and after my visit I felt totally inspired. I spoke to some of the current students about their courses and had a look around the different colleges. Before the end of the day I had decided that I should apply. After all, what did I have to lose?
After sending my application to Jesus in October, I was invited to interview in December. Over the four days of interviews I got a glimpse of what college life in Oxford might be like, and it was such an amazing experience. By the start of January I was given an offer to read French, and by now I’m here, in the middle of an exciting and vibrant academic environment.
I’m so glad that I decided to just go for it, because Oxford has so much to offer. I hope that more and more students from Wales and my area do take the leap and realise that you have something to offer at Oxford too. You never know, you might just fall in love with the place. Cer amdani! You have nothing to lose!
If you’d like to apply for the summer school, please follow these links and fill in an application by June 2nd: