How do I go about choosing the right univeristy course?

From Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic to Molecular Biology, the variety of courses to choose from when applying to Oxford and Cambridge is vast. You might be thinking how is my son or daughter meant to know what they would like to study when they have only been exposed to the standard subjects that schools typically offer. It is completely normal to feel overwhelmed by the options and possibilities, at Oxbridge Applications we are here to help and apply some method to the madness.

We believe that choosing a course boils down to three simple steps: reflection, interest and aspiration. The first step is ‘reflection’ – a time for students to look back on their GCSEs and first year of A-level and think about what the subjects they have studied, what they did well in and what they are currently enjoying.

The next step is ‘interest’, and this is a time for students to think about what they have an effortless and natural curiosity for. Is your son or daughter reading a lot of Ancient Greek dramas in their spare time? Maybe they are attending lectures in algebra at the local university of their own accord! What do you find they talk about most at the dinner table? This natural curiosity is essential to the application process for Oxbridge, because students will need to reference ideas and show an enthusiasm for their subject that goes beyond their school curriculum.

The last step is ‘aspiration’ which asks the question ‘what do I want to achieve by studying this particular subject in depth?’. This could be a particular career goal, such as becoming a human rights lawyer by studying Law or a French interpreter by reading Modern Languages. It may be a career in academia as a researcher of hereditary illnesses, or an interest in sustainable management of ecosystems. The goal could also be a career in academia, or even a personal aim of wanting to read the all the great works of early modern scientific literature, or to cultivate an appreciation of biblical scholarly work. The bottom line here is that any ambition will suffice as it will provide a constant source of motivation, which comes in handy when times get tough.

Oxford and Cambridge hold subject taster days throughout the year and this can be an enlightening experience once students have narrowed down their choice of subject. Getting a snippet of what life would be like studying a certain degree can either re-affirm your child’s decision or potentially even reveal that maybe they are better suited to something else.

For students who are currently in year 11, it is worth having a look on both Oxford and Cambridge’s course pages which go into great depth about the content and structure of degrees available. Oxford has devised an ingenious ‘traffic light system’ that ranks school subjects in terms of usefulness for an application. Some courses have required subjects that student must do in order to be considered for a place, so it’s imperative to pay attention to that.

And the last thing to say is to enjoy the process with your child. It’s a time to soul search and reflect on what they enjoy in life, and it can be really fun helping them take a big step in their lives. There are so many fantastic courses available at Oxbridge, and learning all about them may even inspire you yourself to apply!

To discuss how to choose a course and which one may best suit your child’s application, book a Private Consultation with our Oxbridge-educated consultants in our London offices.