In the heart of University of Oxford territory with an impressive view of the Radcliffe Camera from the window is Vincent’s Club. Known as the iconic home of University sport, I have been invited to meet three members of our Class of 2018 to find out how they have settled in and how Bradfield helped prepare them for life at Oxford.

For Georgie Cockburn (J 13-18), Olivia Lee-Smith (M 13-18) and Elias Tenhula (C 16-18) this meet is the first reunion they have all had since joining, with Elias only matriculating in September following a year of National Service in his native Finland.

The House system was great because you have your own community within the wider community

Elias

So how did their time at Bradfield prepared them for the rigours of academic study at one of the world’s top universities?

As it turns out for Elias, who is reading Law at St Anne’s College, boarding at Bradfield has turned out to be the perfect preparation.

“The House system was great because you have your own community within the wider community and that is similar to the Oxford experience.

“You live with others in your College while being a part of the wider Oxford student body.”

 

I’ve learnt to become very efficient while being able to perform in my studies.

Olivia

 

For Olivia, who is reading Law at Keble College and became Bradfield’s first Hockey Oxford Blue, a team she now captains, the balancing act of academic and extra-curricular interests was key to her transition.

“I enjoy filling my free time with an interest but I like to be organised and that is something I learnt at Bradfield, balancing my IB studies with my cocurricular activities.

“It helps me to stay focussed on my studies and I’ve learnt to become very efficient while being able to perform in my studies or on the hockey pitch to a high standard.”

Similarly, the time management skills Georgie acquired during her five years have been essential but the former Head Girl emphasises Bradfield’s ability to nurture a love of learning for her subject has been the main contributor to her thriving in her Biological Sciences studies at St John’s College.

“What drew me to Biology was the teaching. I felt I was being pushed in the right way and that led me to want to learn more beyond the A Level syllabus.

“It enabled me to ask searching questions and when you ask those questions you find out the more interesting things which gave me an insight into what that subject could be like in the wider world.”

As the trio discuss their journeys to Oxford it appears that it was not always where they thought they would end up.

However, the consensus is that once the seed of possibility had been planted, Bradfield excelled in preparing them for what came next.

Pinpointing the staff and taking their time would be a big piece of advice I could give anyone considering an Oxbridge application

Olivia

While Georgie and Olivia remember joking about going to this mythical place that is Oxford shortly after joining Bradfield, it wasn’t until late in Fifth Form that it became a realistic possibility.

“It was during one of my tutorials with my Academic Scholar Mentor that I was casually asked if I was considering it”, reflects Georgie.

“I just sort of nodded in agreement. It was the first time anyone had suggested that I was on track to achieve it and it all fell into place from there.”

 

Was Oxford always in my mind? No definitely not.

Elias

 

Olivia’s strong set of GCSE grades led to her considering a different future.

“I was on the England Hockey Player Pathway and they were promoting opportunities at the big hockey universities.

“I had a serious think about whether I could have a hockey career or whether I wanted to do something more academic but I wasn’t sure what. I considered studying a Science, maybe BioChem, but with the intention of being a lawyer at the end of the process.”

“Was Oxford always in my mind?”, considers Elias. “No definitely not, in fact I didn’t think it would seriously be an option until after I had gained my place at Bradfield.

“I changed my mind about the course, initially wanting to read PPE and going back to Law later in my studies.”

While noting that Bradfield is always there to help its pupils, they point out that the onus was put on them to ensure they put together an authentic application, with a personal statement full of knowledge and that they were sufficiently prepped for interview.

They all agree that this was the right way to apply.

“Pinpointing the staff and taking their time would be a big piece of advice I could give anyone considering an Oxbridge application”, explains Olivia.

“Bradfield’s staff are so up for helping you get there. For Law, Elias and I went through so many LNAT tests and wrote essays every week. Mr Williams was on point with every piece of advice.

“Every article he suggested gave us greater understanding of the subject and every book he pointed us towards we later found on the preliminary reading list after gaining our places.”

There is an emphasis on individual ownership of the process. Bradfield provides the facilities and support to apply but no one is holding your hand.

Georgie

“There are so many helpful staff at the College”, Elias agrees.

“Both my Housemaster and Tutor had studied Law so were able to impart helpful advice and the then Bursar Mr Burrowes was superb. He pointed out cases for us to research and all of those have come up in early studies.”

“There is an emphasis on individual ownership of the process”, Georgie concurs.

“Bradfield provides the facilities and support to apply but no one is holding your hand, telling you what to do.

“It made the process rewarding at the end but also intrinsically, having an appetite to read more, learn more and even write essays.”

Georgie also points to the belief instilled in her by both Bradfield’s Horizons Careers Department and Polly Caffrey, Head of UCAS, as key to her successful application.

“Horizons were great when it came to interview prep. As well as their own expertise they gave us access to independent interviewers which was really helpful.

“Mrs Caffrey ensured that our personal statements were written in the right way and encouraged us to take the initiative early on to get ahead of the curve when it came to getting work experience that would set us apart from the other applicants.”

 

There just isn’t the time here to do all the things that you got to experience at Bradfield.

Georgie

 

While their focus is keenly on their academic studies, all three have continued with elements of the cocurricular experience they loved at Bradfield.

Elias has already joined the Badminton team, Olivia is Captain of the Oxford Blues Hockey and Georgie also continues to play the same sport, Captaining the 3rdXI.

“There just isn’t the time here to do all the things that you got to experience at Bradfield”, stresses Georgie.

“That’s not necessarily a bad thing. I think we all managed to ram it in to tipping point at Bradfield.

What is great is that you do fewer things here but you are able to do them to a high standard without being over stretched.”

We look forward to seeing the trio flourish and will certainly catch up with them in the not too distant future as they embark upon their Legal and Scientific careers.

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