Updated: Jan 14
My single biggest piece of advice is to get in touch with current Oxbridge students, and here's how.
The below article is split into the following headings:
1. The Objective – Getting a Mentor
2. How To Get in Touch
3. Making the Most of the relationship
4. Things to Remember
1. The Objective – Getting a Mentor
The people who know best how to achieve an Oxbridge offer are those who have done so, i.e. current students and alumni. This is the very idea behind Irish To Oxbridge, in that current undergraduates share their tips and experiences with prospective applicants. However, a relationship with a current student who can provide tailored advice for your specific application will yield the best results. This is the idea behind the platform ‘Zero Gravity’, whereby a state school student registers the subject and university for which they will be applying, and is then paired up with a student studying that subject at that particular university. The mentor then provides support on the Personal Statement, Interview, and the rest of the application. The result of this ‘mentoring’ has seen students have their chances of being admitted to a Russell Group university double. The results don’t lie.
You’re objective as a prospective student from Ireland should also be to get yourself a mentor. If any of the students who have written Success Stories study the subject for which you intend to apply, I would recommend reaching out to them directly. However, this might not be the case, and so I will outline my recommended procedure for getting yourself an Oxbridge mentor to help with your application.
2. How To Get in Touch
Firstly, make a LinkedIn account. This is where you will find Oxbridge students to which you can reach out. LinkedIn is, essentially, a Facebook for work. People create profiles that are essentially CVs and can connect and get in touch with other professionals.
Once you’ve made an account, search for the degree for which you will be applying (e.g. ‘Law’) and then selecting ‘People’.
You should then filter your search by going to ‘All filters’ and then ‘school’. Once here, search for either ‘University of Oxford’ or ‘University of Cambridge’, or both!
Now, scroll through the results and look for undergraduate students in that particular course that are currently studying in Oxbridge. Make a note of their names and compile a list. You should now either message them on LinkedIn if it allows you to do so, or search for the students by name on Facebook/Instagram (I’m not sure about Oxford, but Facebook is used for lots of events in Cambridge and so more or less every student uses the app and can also be contacted via Facebook Messenger). Once you have found their social media, shoot them a message asking them politely if they might have a chance to take a call, have a look at your Personal Statement, do a mock interview for your subject etc, whatever it may be.
DO NOT be afraid to reach out. These students were once in your shoes and the very worst that they can say is no. However, if they do offer to help, this could make the difference in whether your application is ultimately successful. I contacted a student (Seán) via Facebook (he studied Physics as opposed to Law), and he was incredibly helpful in helping me draft my Personal Statement, doing a mock interview with me, and putting me in touch with a Law student at Cambridge who conducted another mock interview. I genuinely do not believe I would have been accepted to study Law at the University of Cambridge had I not had his support.
3. Making the Most of the Relationship
When reaching out, briefly explain your situation as an Irish student and explain how appreciative you would be if they might have the time to help you to some degree with your application.
I would recommend calling them if you can, as a Zoom (or equivalent) is much better at creating a relationship that an Instagram DM or Facebook message. Also, DO NOT be afraid to ask. If you don’t ask, you often won’t get. Many students might not want to share their own Personal Statement, but many will be more than happy to do so, and I would recommend at least asking to see theirs (once you have developed something of a relationship, that is). While you should not copy what they have written, it can be useful to see what a successful structure looks like, and take inspiration from their writing.
I would recommend asking them any questions you might have about the course, the university etc. Asking if they would correct a draft of your Personal Statement can be greatly beneficial as well, and if offered an interview, ask if they might have the time to conduct a mock interview with you, or put you in touch with another student who might do so.
Remember, if you don’t ask, you won’t get.
4. Some Things to Remember
Many students might not get back to you, or might not offer you their time. Do not be disheartened by this. Many students are incredibly busy with work and simply do not feel like they have the time to help you at that point in their undergraduate studies. However, it only takes one student willing to help that will make the difference to your application, so keep at it.
If you can’t find any students studying your particular degree, you’d be surprised at how much help just about any student can prove to be, so reach out to somebody else. Remember, it was largely a Physics student that got me into Law! Even then, another student might be able to put you in touch with a friend or colleague they know studying your subject, so the main thing is finding a connection within Oxbridge, and if they study your degree it’s a bonus!
Best of luck with your application and, once again, I cannot stress enough how beneficial it can be having a relationship with a current Oxbridge undergraduate! Don’t underestimate it and reach out!