After falling in love with Lincoln College at The University of Oxford, former Bridlington School student Holly knew that she had to apply. Holly took part in the highly competitive application process and recently found out that she had been successful at interview to study Modern Languages.
Holly’s passion for Languages really shines through. Hear all about her interests, application journey and advice to students considering this prestigious university.
What subjects do you study at Wyke?
My study programme consists of A Level Spanish, A Level English Literature and A Level English Language.
What has been your favourite part of studying at Wyke so far?
The best thing about Wyke for me is the way in which I’ve been allowed to completely fall in love with my subjects. The staff are brilliant, and I have had some really great teachers who have a genuine passion – this makes studying all the more interesting. It is through this that I have been able to find and explore three subjects that I honestly enjoy.
Do you take part in any enrichments at Wyke?
In year one I participated in the BSL enrichment. This was an eight-week introductory course into British Sign Language – I think it’s really important that Wyke offers this.
What inspired you to apply to Oxford?
Applying to Oxbridge was always something I was interested in, but it only ever felt like a dream before I came to Wyke – I never felt it could be a possibility for me. At the first Flyer’s session, I remember seeing a lot about Oxbridge and how people from previous years had got in. I thought applying would be a waste of time, but Andrea reassured me that I had the grades and that I might as well go for it. I had known for a long time that I wanted to study MFL so after researching the course at Oxford, I fell in love with Lincoln College and knew I had to apply.
How did you find the application process and what did you do to prepare for it?
The application process really highlights that you have to have a genuine passion for your subject because if you do, as stressful as it is, it can actually be quite enjoyable. Preparing for the process wasn’t necessarily a huge struggle for me because it simply meant that I had to do further reading and I enjoyed it. I explored Spanish cinema, literature, traditions and society further than we had done in class. I wrote over eight drafts of my personal statement, which focused on literature as a form of communication.
I then had to submit two essays to Lincoln, one in English, which I had already written in class, and one in Spanish on ‘Volver’, a film we had studied. For the admissions assessment (MLAT), I sat many past papers which was really helpful. I actually quite enjoyed preparing for it. The preparation that I did for interviews was incredibly useful. I did multiple mock interviews with Amalia and Emma who both made me feel so calm and confident about the whole process.
How did you feel your interview went on the day?
My first interview was Spanish. I didn’t feel particularly brilliant about it afterwards but compared to my second one, it was a walk in the part. We talked a lot about translation and my reasons for choosing Oxford. I was then given a poem in English that I just had to talk about – my interpretations, analysis, etc. Towards the end of the interview, I spoke for ten minutes in Spanish about Don Quixote, a novel I had mentioned in my personal statement, and other works of literature that I had read in English. Nerve-wracking as it was, the tutors were so kind, and it was really refreshing to be able to openly express my passion with like-minded people.
It was my second interview (Beginner’s Italian) that made me sure I had completely missed out on the chance to study at Oxford. It lasted over an hour and consisted of constant questioning – I felt like nothing I said was good enough. I actually came out of the interview crying because I honestly thought I had just ruined years’ worth of preparation. As daunting as this sounds, it just goes to show that you really can’t know how well you’ve done in the application process until they tell you. I had heard from many people that the interview wasn’t actually an interview – it is simply a mock tutorial, similar to the ones that take place when studying at Oxford, and so I should just say my thoughts aloud, be perceptive, and show passion. Though it felt like it at the time, the interviewer really isn’t trying to catch you out, they’re simply trying to see if you’re teachable and passionate.
Can you remember a particularly tricky question that was asked by the University? Or any questions you feel you answered really well?
In the interviews, you can be asked what seem to be really strange questions. I got asked things like ‘what gets lost in translation’ and ‘compare child language acquisition to adult language acquisition’ but I had been aware beforehand that the questions could be quite challenging. I remember preparing for a question I’d found online: ‘think of a painting of a tree, is it real?’ This terrified me because I didn’t know where to start but after approaching it calmly, I realised it was just a confusing way of asking about translation and how it is essentially one language’s reproduction of another. All the questions asked in the interview have a purpose and they actually all make sense in the context. The interview is built up in terms of difficulty; the tutor will have an idea as to where the conversation is headed from the beginning so really, most of the questions link. It’s important to just think out loud and express your honest answer, not what you think they want to hear.
Do you have any advice for upcoming students who are considering applying to Oxbridge?
I would say that it’s really important to ensure that you are applying for you, not anyone else. The application process is incredibly tiring and stressful but if you have a genuine passion for your subject, it makes it so much easier and so much more worth it. I would also advise not to be put off by misconceptions or stereotypes. Don’t not apply because you think you won’t get in. Obviously, it is a very prestigious university, and the application process is difficult but at the end of the day, they are simply looking for students who love learning their subject as much as they love teaching it.
How has Wyke’s Oxbridge Programme helped you in your application?
The Oxbridge Programme at Wyke was the first thing that made me believe I could achieve something as big as Oxford and pushed me to do what was best for me. They are there to help every step of the way. I’m so glad that I went to that first meeting, otherwise I wouldn’t have had this amazing opportunity.
Congratulations Holly! We wish you every success in your next steps and can’t wait to follow your journey.