Comparing Oxford to US colleges?

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Discus: College Search and Selection: August 2004 Archive: Comparing Oxford to US colleges?
By Anglophile (Anglophile) on Wednesday, July 07, 2004 - 12:29 am: Edit

I'm an english/british litterature major looking for grad schools. I've always dreamed of going to Oxford, but I don't know how to compare oxbridge with the US schools (HYPS + Berkeley) in terms of competition, requirements, expectations etc. I've looked all over the internet, and I cannot find a comparison. Can someone help me put these colleges in perspective so I can see if I have a chance?!

By Hstudent (Hstudent) on Wednesday, July 07, 2004 - 11:29 am: Edit

if you are coming from HYPS a 3.5 will get you into a masters programme

DPhil gets quite a bit tougher - but they love US folks since they charge several times more

granted this is all that i've been told (im looking into Ox as well)

By Anglophile (Anglophile) on Thursday, July 08, 2004 - 12:00 am: Edit

I'm in just in the Honors program at UCLA (not quite Harvard, but better weather), and so far I have a 3.95 gpa-- it was a Beginning Ballet class that killed the gpa . I am going into my Junior year, so I have a bit of time to beef up my resume with research and study abroad (any other ideas on what I should do?). I am looking into the top grad schools in the US and Britain (trying to see if I have a shot). Thanks for your feedback, and any more advice on what a girl would need to do to get to Oxford would be very much appreciated!!!

By Iluvcornell (Iluvcornell) on Thursday, July 08, 2004 - 01:39 am: Edit

Every School in the world LOVES to take UCLA graduates trust me - the world knows it - i'm not biased cause i'm a cornell undergraduate, but i hear so much about the school and where it's graduates are going. With your GPA/honors prog i would not worry one bit - Aim high when you apply to grad schools and you'll see, even Harvard will be within your bounds!! Best of luck!!!

By Anglophile (Anglophile) on Thursday, July 08, 2004 - 02:54 am: Edit

Thank you Iluvcornell! Have you really heard a lot about UCLA grads? I so hope that the admissions offices agree with you, but I've heard varying reports on how UCLA is received by other institutions. It's very reassuring that people outside of CA perceive it to be a good school (It is a wonderful place, but doesn't get much recognition).

By Neobez (Neobez) on Thursday, July 08, 2004 - 10:57 pm: Edit

I live in Atlanta and, I can't speak for everyone as I don't know how others feel, but I percieve it as a great university. I would apply if it weren't so tough for out of state applicants.

By Crazylicious (Crazylicious) on Friday, July 09, 2004 - 04:49 am: Edit

you guys are nicer than this post about ucla:

By English_Girl (English_Girl) on Friday, July 09, 2004 - 01:36 pm: Edit

I'm from England so if you feel like asking me any questions about Oxford then go ahead. I don't know much about American unis so I can't really compare but Oxford is definately amongst the best, I'd say that only Harvard and Yale in the US are on par with regards to prestige. Obviously competition for Oxford is very high, but I'm not sure about entry requirments. Try emailing them

By Zymosan2004 (Zymosan2004) on Friday, July 09, 2004 - 04:09 pm: Edit

Hey English Girl,

I am an American student and I have been accepted to Univ of Bristol. How is the university and its reputation? How is the city itself? What have you heard about it? Any information would be helpful considering that I have never been in England. Thanx

By Anglophile (Anglophile) on Friday, July 09, 2004 - 04:23 pm: Edit

Hi English_girl, Is UCLA known in England? Just curious. How would you compare Oxford to Cambridge in terms of academics, campus, students, difficulty of work, and competition to get in? Or is it like the difference between Harvard and Yale (none!). Also, I'm visiting London this summer(it's a very short trip,but I'm hoping to make the most of it), is there anything in particular I should see or do? Are you familiar with the Camden Markets? Thanks!

By Anglophile (Anglophile) on Saturday, July 10, 2004 - 02:42 am: Edit


By Ansiarach (Ansiarach) on Friday, July 16, 2004 - 04:31 pm: Edit

There is next to no difference between Oxford and Cambridge. Over the last few years Oxford has been ranked 1st in the Times University rankings (with Cambridge 2nd) however Cambridge has been ranked 1st in more of the individual subject rankings than Oxford.

By Aeolus (Aeolus) on Friday, July 16, 2004 - 09:31 pm: Edit

You'll love Oxford! I got into Oxford with a 3.95 GPA from a UC so you'll have a great shot. With that said however, I am not sure how competitive the english grad program is and when I applied, I did have some Oxford professors as references (I was a visiting student there). Dont worry, just got for it and you wont regret the choice.

By Anglophile (Anglophile) on Saturday, July 17, 2004 - 03:58 am: Edit

Aeolus--How did you do it?! I'm so exited to hear from someone who has done what I want to do! How were you a visiting student? Study abroad? Gimme details!!! And thank you so much for giving me hope :)

By Datadigit1 (Datadigit1) on Saturday, July 17, 2004 - 09:18 pm: Edit

Should be great! Oxford and Cambridge are both amazing places, highly unique experiences, and there are now other schools like them on the planet. The quality of education there is also fantastic and easily just as good as any top US school (varies between Ox or Cam as per specific subjects) although it's not easy to compare programs directly since the Oxbridge system is a lot different in many ways than the traditional American system. Anyway have fun!

By Davidn08 (Davidn08) on Saturday, July 17, 2004 - 11:48 pm: Edit

Cambridge and oxford are small/boring towns.

the british really suck at masters... they're better than here for undergrad, but the US is the best for grad.

By Anglophile (Anglophile) on Sunday, July 18, 2004 - 02:15 am: Edit

Why? Please explain your point of view Davidn08. :)

By Jetboy1857 (Jetboy1857) on Sunday, July 18, 2004 - 11:17 am: Edit

"Cambridge and oxford are small/boring towns"
- Obviously you probably visited out of term when nobody was around and/or only got the outside "tourist view." Both universities are very protective of student life and don't let the tourists go near many buildings let alone inside so to be quite honest it's fairly hard to know what it's really like there unless you know someone that goes there who can show you the inside view.

"the british really suck at masters"
- Even if that was true there is more to grad school than just masters degrees

By Datadigit1 (Datadigit1) on Sunday, July 18, 2004 - 11:33 am: Edit

I'm always amazed by this sort of thing...

95% of the time (very accurate scientific study with no error ;-) ) when someone "bashes" something, i.e. a university on these forums, they either have some sort of grudge against the place or more likely they are jealous. I mean, if one is not then why would they just wake up and decide to bash some school or topic for no reason? There is nothing wrong with not liking a school, but unless you back your statements up with some facts then the comments will just make you look like you're jealous or something.

Mabye Davidn08 is a Harvard student who got rejected from Oxbridge (just a joke, don't take this seriously ;-) )

By Anglophile (Anglophile) on Sunday, July 18, 2004 - 04:50 pm: Edit

I know exactly what you mean. I bash Vassar at every opportunity! (They rejected me).
Just kidding, but good point datadigit1.

By Anglophile (Anglophile) on Sunday, July 18, 2004 - 08:59 pm: Edit

Where did Aeolus go? Please answer my questions: How did you get into Oxford? What are their standards for admission? What are my chances out of a UC? How were you a visiting student--Study abroad? Gimme details!!! Did you go on EAP? Any advice on doing what you have done?

By Aeolus (Aeolus) on Sunday, July 18, 2004 - 09:33 pm: Edit

Anglophile -- The Oxford's grad admission process is two fold. You'll have to be admitted into the department then a college. Some departments or subject paper are more competitive than others. My subject paper in Comparative Government for example is less competitive than the International Relations paper which Chelsea Clinton did though they are in the same department. Normally, if you secure a department admission, the college admission is easy (they forward your dossier around according to your choice until a college accepts you). In the politics dept, they normally accept around 20 grad students a year per paper. Prior to my application, I studied abroad for a year at Oxford as a visting student. Visiting students at Oxford have varying experiences. I was fortunate enough to be almost integrated with the undergrads. Two of my Oxford tutors provided references for me. If you have professors at UCLA who have friends at Oxford, dont hesistate to use the connection. MY UCSD professor referred me to his friend for tutorials and that turned out to be quiet a privilege. My year at oxford was great to say the least. Almost everything impressed me, from the quality of the teaching, the college/university environment, the social/recreational opportunities, to its history and customs. The workload is extremely high but rewarding. I used two of my Oxford essays as writing samples for admission. I am sure if you graduate from UCLA Summa Cum Laude however, you'll have a grat shot at Oxford. If you need further information about the application process, you can request a graduate admissions catalog from Oxford. It probably will have more specific requirements/descriptions on your subject and department.

By Anglophile (Anglophile) on Monday, July 19, 2004 - 04:03 am: Edit

Aeolus, I really can't thank you enough. :)

By Davidn08 (Davidn08) on Monday, July 19, 2004 - 12:30 pm: Edit

Actually, I'm applying to Cambridge, Oxford, London Imperial, and Sorbonne (Paris), and not Harvard or Yale, and probably not Princeton.

I lived in Cambridge for 5 years. The town is boring as hell. I remember in 7th grade sitting in German class, we had to make an imaginary pamphlet for Germans visiting the town, and none of us could think of anything interesting to do that was less than 1 hour away. Obviously, you could choose to stay in the colleges (campuses) all the time, but that would get boring.

It's kindof an accepted fact that the top American schools (hypsm) are better than oxbridge (on most international ranks they are, as far as i know).

HOWEVER, the british are known for being really great at undergrad, coz in the last two years of british high school (they call that college), they only have 4 subjects (like i could take math + math + physics + computer science), and once you get to undergrad, you just take one (thats it, no electives... nothing). so basically, you reach a very high level in that subject (unlike here).

the reason is that in Europe, its not like here where "everyone goes to college". the percentage is much smaller, probably closer to the percentage of people in the US that go to grad school.

in Europe masters is a fairly new thing. they basically used to just have undergrad, and phd.

the ultimate combination (I know many people that have done this... and Clinton kinda did it) is undergrad in europe, grad in america.

Americans applying to Oxford need 1400+ SAT1, an "excellent" high school record, and some combination of 4+ on appropriate APs, and 700+ on SAT2s.

i think the reason those are so low is that they have entrance exams that most americans would find difficult (its kinda different material, and its not multiple choice).

last year, oxford accepted 45/180 american students.

By Voodoochile (Voodoochile) on Monday, July 19, 2004 - 02:05 pm: Edit

You can't apply to both Cambridge and Oxford. You can only apply to one.

About British undegrad... It's not a matter of being better or worse than US undergrad. It's just a different sort of system.

In the UK, the programs are very focused, but are narrower in breadth than the programs in the US. For example, if you go to the UK to study medicine, expect to *only* study medicine-related things. They don't have language requirements, or writing requirements, or other things which have little to do with your subject area.

If you really know what you want to study, and want to really concentrate on that thing, then maybe the UK is for you. If you're not 100% sure about your intended major and want a broader, liberal arts sort of education, than stay in the US.

Oh, and Bill Clinton went to Georgetown for undergrad, then Oxford for two years, then went to Yale Law School.

By Ubercollegeman (Ubercollegeman) on Monday, July 19, 2004 - 02:16 pm: Edit

Does anyone have any Cambridge admissions statistics for American applicants?

By Jetboy1857 (Jetboy1857) on Monday, July 19, 2004 - 03:31 pm: Edit

"It's kindof an accepted fact that the top American schools (hypsm) are better than oxbridge (on most international ranks they are, as far as i know). "

I don't think that's really true... they are certainly different, no question about that, but to say one is obviously better than the other is a bit far fetched and quite frankly moot (seriously the average person on the street isn't going to "look down" on someone becuase they went to Oxford vs. Harvard or Harvard vs. Cambridge ect. so a degree from any one of those schools is equally prestegious hands down).

By Voodoochile (Voodoochile) on Monday, July 19, 2004 - 04:28 pm: Edit

"It's kind of an accepted fact that the top American schools (hypsm) are better than oxbridge (on most international ranks they are, as far as i know)."

Well, it depends on how you look at it. In terms of financial resources, the US wins hands down. Harvard's endowment is $18.8 billion, six times as large as Oxford's 2 billion pounds.

I don't think there are that many international rankings. However, in the ones that I have seen, it is true that the US schools monopolize the top spots, though Oxford and Cambridge are usually in the top 10 or top 15.

My opinion is that the best schools in the US are ahead of Oxbridge. They have stronger departments, better faculties, and are much more resourceful than any school in any other country. Prestige-wise, HYPS and Oxbridge are perhaps equal, but that is probably attributed to history and the lack of a clear means to compare the American and English systems.

By Davidn08 (Davidn08) on Tuesday, July 20, 2004 - 04:33 pm: Edit

Why can't you apply both to Cambridge and Oxford? Is that just American students?

I'm a Danish (European) citizen...

By Ansiarach (Ansiarach) on Tuesday, July 20, 2004 - 04:45 pm: Edit

No one is allowed to apply to both Oxford and Cambridge, its the same for us british students. Im not really sure why, though id guess its something to do with the rivalry - Oxford wouldnt take a Cambridge reject and vice versa. In the UK some students are at a disadvantage if they apply to Oxford/Cambridge as certain universities will reject you outright if they believe youre treating them as only second choice to Oxbridge.

By Anglophile (Anglophile) on Tuesday, July 20, 2004 - 09:24 pm: Edit

I personally don't care whether Oxbridge is ranked lower than HYPS. Oxford is at the top of my personal rankings!(besides, I don't think I could get into HYPS even with my gpa). Do you think I would have a better chance of getting into Oxford than HYPS+Berkeley grad schools? And I second the question "Does anyone have any Cambridge admissions statistics for American applicants?" You know, I think one of these days I should actually CALL Oxford... hmmm... I'll have to think about that...

By Aeolus (Aeolus) on Tuesday, July 27, 2004 - 01:55 am: Edit

Anglophile, I think with that GPA, if you do well on the GRE you will have a great shot at HYPS grad school. I have a friend who graduated from UCLA and is now at Harvard for grad school. In fact, UCLA grads make up a big part of Harvard law's freshmen intake so dont sell yourself short ;)

By Taxguy (Taxguy) on Tuesday, July 27, 2004 - 10:34 am: Edit

Davidn08 notes, "
the ultimate combination (I know many people that have done this... and Clinton kinda did it) is undergrad in europe, grad in america. "

Not true David: Clinton attended Georgetown Univ undergrad and did some graduate work ( as a result of Rhodes Scholarship) in England.

I have had numberous friend and their kids study in the US and take a semester abroad at top English schools. They have all noted that, although they loved their experience in England, the US schools were harder. Obviously, they were talking about undergraduate study.

By Valois2 (Valois2) on Monday, August 02, 2004 - 12:23 am: Edit

I'm an American student heading to Oxford in the fall for a graduate degree (DPhil) in the humanities - I applied directly to the uni though, not through a visiting student etc program. Their degree system is a bit different than ours (MLitt&MPhil, rather than MA,I think). Either way, if you decide to apply for English/Lit, the most important aspect of your application would probably have to do with what you want to research (a good gpa is awfully helpful as well ;)). It helped me alot to really read what the requirements for each degree were i.e. am I capable of research without much supporting coursework? Other than that I learned that you REALLY have to look at the faculty research interests, and make sure that there are a few people who you'd like to work with and who have similar interests. Basically you're trying to sell them your proposed topic, and it all boils down to whether or not one of the faculty likes your proposal enough to work with you for 1-4 years on it - simple as that. Once you get the departmental 'ok' your dossier makes the college rounds. When choosing a college I looked at accomadation(sp) first and foremost - to make sure that they guarantee it for the duration of the course and to see how much it cost. Renting in Oxford is rumored to be abysmal (1000-2000 pounds a month for a v small place) and some college accom. will cost you a mint. Other than that it's pretty much down to preference. As a side note, I tried to pick a college that had some funding for research students. On the down side, if you do indeed get in, the costs are rather high due to the weakness of the dollar vs the pound. Depending on which college you get into you'll probably pay around 35k and up. Obviously, the aforementioned is only my personal experience with applying - it may differ greatly from others'. One more thing: apply as early as you can - and start applying for funding in the fall. Alot of the US grant applications are due before final deadlines for the university, and by the time you find out whether or not you've gotten in, many will have passed. Hope this helped...

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