Send off sample work to Oxford

Date: 30/10/2002

I had a few problems sending off sample work, making it the most stressful part of my application

Today I received a second letter from Oxford requesting me to send off two pieces of sample work to the college and also enclosing some preliminary information about interviews, but not actually offering me one. The interview letter just told me when the interviews were likely to occur and when I could expect to receive confirmation of whether I would be given an interview or not.

At the time, I wasn't sure what work I was going to send off to Oxford, it would obviously be some economics work, as I was taking economics and management. I had a look in the prospectus, but it didn't really tell me anything new. I asked my economics teacher at school and he said he would set me some essays in class which I could use.

Unfortunately when I completed the essays and got them back I had received very low grades and didn't think they would be suitable to send off to Oxford. I now didn't have much time left as the essays needed to be at Pembroke by the 15th of November. Next gathered up all the essays, and reports I had written over my year and a half studying economics (around 15-20 I think) and bought them all in to ask my economics teacher which I should use. He selected one, an analysis of the demand in the tobacco market , but couldn't find another essay he thought was suitable.

I was getting desperate now, I only had a week or so to get my essay in. My economics teacher gave me an essay title for me to complete over the weekend - on a subject we had hardly covered in class. I spent the weekend working on the essay, and handed it in on Monday, where my teacher took the essay marked it and gave me some corrections to make. I thought after I had made the corrections that would be it, but after showing it to my teacher again it still had some problems, and I had just two days until the dead line. I spent a bit of that day rewriting the essay, and handed it into my teacher again. He said there were still a few minor problems, and he would give the essay a B grade. Seeing as this was my third rewrite and I didn't have much time left, I decided a B would have to do. I rewrote the essay in my best handwriting, put both essays in a nice envelope with a cover letter and went down to Pembroke College to hand it in myself, the day before the deadline. Writing this essay three times in a very short space of time was probably the worst part of my application to Oxford, I really hated being under this much pressure and did wonder for one minute whether studying at Oxford would mean I felt like that all the time.

All in all things worked quite well, I had got two good essays (one A grade and one B) in before the deadline, which I thought were a good representation of my work. The two pieces of work showed a broad sample of what I could do. One essay was typed, one handwritten showing I could work well in both mediums. One was long and well researched, the other was much shorted and more concise. My aim with these two pieces was to show I could produce good work over a wide range of topics, in a number of different forms.

One thing I did notice afterward was that maybe I should not have written my own cover letter. I seem to remember reading in the prospectus that the university could supply cover letters, and it's possible I should have used on of those. However Pembroke accepted my work just fine, so no problems there.