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16 February 2023

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#HUMANSOFSTHUGHS: Oghale-Oghene Erikigho

In episode four of our #HumansofStHughs series, second-year Psychology and Philosophy (PPL) student, Oghale explains how Oxford University is open to anyone, no matter what their background.

Hello! My name is Oghale and I am a second-year Psychology and Philosophy (PPL) student here at St Hughs. I am also the Access Officer for 2023, so do feel free to reach out to me (jcr.access@st-hughs.ox.ac.uk) if you have any queries about anything St Hugh’s or Oxford related.

Background:

I knew I wanted to go to Oxford ever since I was in Year 8 (long before I even knew what Oxford even was) as I have always had a particular interest in learning. As someone who went to a non-selective state school, was on free-school meals, and came from a low-income, single-parent household, I was given the impression that university, Oxford and Cambridge in particular, wasn’t for people like me. Progression to Oxbridge in my school was very low and for most bright disadvantaged students, admission to either university seemed impossible simply because we did not fit the criteria we thought was necessary to be accepted. Well, as a current student at the University of Oxford, I am here to tell you that is not the case! Oxford is a highly intellectual and brilliant place that is open to anyone who has the academic ability and a passion for learning new things about the world, regardless of their background! I am no stranger to what it means to be disadvantaged and if you feel this might be something that is holding you back from applying to Oxford, don’t hesitate to get in touch and I’m happy to help in any way that I can.

Admissions Process

As I was applying for Psychology and Philosophy, I made sure that my personal statement referenced both of the subjects. I focused on only areas that I was truly interested in, and this proved quite difficult as I had never studied Philosophy before my application. Morality, law, social psychology and political ideas were among some of the things I decided to explore, making sure I was always linking back to why I wanted to study the course that I was applying for.

After submitting my personal statement, I then had to sit an admissions test – the Thinking Skills Assessment (TSA). I found revising for it very challenging as I had never sat an exam like it before. There were lots of resources on the Oxford University website, including past papers and links to video demos, which I found very useful.

Both the personal statement and the TSA took lots of preparation, but I think the scariest part of the applications process for me were the interviews. I had four interviews, 2 Psychology and 2 Philosophy, and felt very underprepared for them. My school had arranged multiple practice interviews, but now looking back, they were absolutely nothing like the real thing! In my actual interviews, the tutors were very interested in investigating the way I think, giving me questions that were incredibly hard, but could be worked out with guidance. I remember being told if each answer I had given was right or wrong straight after giving it – but getting an answer wrong (which happened a lot in my experience, hehe) did not mean I was any less capable as an applicant. Instead, I worked with the tutors and eventually came to the right answers (except in my last philosophy interview, which I still have no clue what they were trying to ask me lol). I learned that tutors are really looking for candidates who are teachable and try different methods using new information, not for people who already know all the answers! Overall, the process was very draining, but I am glad that I did it, as I did really find the topics and discussions very interesting!

Advice for prospective students

  • If you are applying to Oxford, make sure you are doing it because you are genuinely intrigued by or love the course you are choosing and not because you want to get into Oxford! The workload here is quite demanding, and its only manageable if you love what you’re doing.
  • Try to get as much practice as possible in the admissions test if you’re sitting one. The admissions tests are designed to be different to any test you may have sat before, so it is vital that you familiarise yourself with what the tests require you to do. There is plenty information on admissions tests on the University website, so do have a look!
  • Structure is key! If you get an interview, it is important that you have some general structure to the answers you give. Make sure you present yourself clearly, have an order to the points you’re making and sum up your main stance at the end. The interviews can be hard to practice for, but it generally helps to practice thinking out loud (even if its to yourself in the living room) as that will help you express your thoughts better!

Hope this helps and best of luck to anyone applying! 😊

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