Should you apply to Oxford or Cambridge?

by Anita Lee


In a word, yes. Here's five reasons why:

1. You'll probably get a very good job

I'm 10 years out of Cambridge and all of my friends who graduated from Oxbridge have now built solid careers, for the most part doing things they love (or if they don't love it, they get well paid for it). Of course there were a few years of trying things and working out what we all wanted to be, but we've all come good.

In the public/third sector you'll find them working in The Houses of Parliament, Whitehall, holding leadership roles in the charity sector, teaching in your school, healing your wounds, or lecturing in many universities.

In the private sector you'll find them in senior management roles in corporates, writing software and solving complex technology problems, leading on deals in The City, auditing the aforementioned public sector, debating the law and bringing you news stories at internationally respected newspapers. I'm not generalising; I'm thinking specifically about friends of mine who graduated. The prospects are excellent. It is a good path to a better life.

Good prospects

2. Oxford and Cambridge are very well resourced

Aside from the trimmings of free gyms and boathouses and lobster bisque for dinner at ridiculously subsidised rates, there are also grants available to go travelling if you have the initiative to ask for it (and if you can link it to your studies). And to buy books. And irrespective of your college choice they even help with your living expenses if you qualify and apply and you won't have to pay it back.

You will also potentially live in stunning buildings. It is an amazing feeling to wake up in the morning, open your curtains and look out on The Backs. Alternatively, if you feel the 1960s had it right architecturally, there is also Churchill College, Cambridge.

Churchill, Cambridge

3. You will make some solid (and eccentric) friends for life

I met some of my best friends at Cambridge. If you find yourself bored at school and feeling like no one is on your wave length, I would say Oxbridge is almost certainly for you. It is okay to be clever (indeed, encouraged), okay to argue with people about their views on what's happened in the news that day and okay to say, "We don't have a Tiddlywinks Club so I'm going to set one up!"

It is entirely true that lots of kids at Oxbridge are probably richer than you. It is entirely true that some of them are weird. It is entirely true that most people at Oxbridge will not be like you. That's life. Get over it.

Richer and weirder than you

You can't judge a book by its cover. Make your friends at Oxbridge on the basis of who and not what they are, and you will leave with a great group of international friends and an outstanding professional network to boot (see point one). You may well find that the friends who you identify most with are the ones you never would have predicted. Your life will be richer for it.

4. The interview is a fun day out.

Yes, you read that correctly. We all love recounting our Oxbridge interview stories because they are usually full of quite entertaining anecdotes.

If you don't apply, you're turning down the opportunity to engage with world class academics in discussing the subject you are hopefully passionate about. Those textbooks you're reading are probably based on stuff these guys debated or discovered.

The interviews are challenging no doubt, but it is also strangely good fun to be asked questions you probably can't answer and have a go at solving them. It is also slightly annoying and I'm not going to lie to you: you will spend the rest of your life being irritated with the questions you didn't figure out straight away! But you'll work it out and the journey to finding the answers will be fun.

It is good life experience. Do it. You'll have a story to tell your grandchildren.

Bodleian Library

5. You miss 100% of the shots you don't take (I know, so cheesy - but true!)

Remember that most people only regret the things they didn't do in life. You can spend your life wondering if you'd have got into Oxford or Cambridge and what your life might now look like if you'd only applied, or you can fill in the form and find out.

Applications close on 15 October so start preparing!


Why are we running this #goforoxbridge campaign? was founded with the goal of helping people to get on in life. We enable them to find local private tuition so they can pass through their schooling successfully. We know that private tuition helps many families from very varied backgrounds to achieve their educational goals. We want to see you do well.

Anita Lee is a Director at First Tutors and graduated from St. John's College, Cambridge.