The Oxbridge Prep group have been joined for two of the recent sessions by BISHCMC alumni Nam Tran. Nam graduated from BISHCMC and went on to read Land Economy at Homerton College, Cambridge, graduating in 2018. Nam was kind enough to spend some time with our Oxbridge 2021 hopefuls and pass on her wisdom to them regarding the application and interview process and also on life at Cambridge. During the sessions Nam was kind enough to answer some questions from our students...
1. How did you come to choose Cambridge over Oxford?
I wanted to do a multidisciplinary subject since I enjoy the flexibility and perspective it offers. By complete chance, I discovered Land Economy which was only taught at Cambridge and suited my subject choices during IB.
2. Which Cambridge college did you study at?
I initially applied to and received an offer from St. John's College but was put in the summer pool and "fished" by Homerton College after my results were released. I chose St. John’s initially based on location and amenities, however you'll end up loving whichever college you're at so I wouldn't worry too much.
3. Will you continue on to postgraduate study?
I currently don't intend on pursuing postgraduate studies but if I did it would probably have to do with using Big Data to create smarter, more sustainable cities. This interest stemmed from my third year at Cambridge where I took some modules on ‘planning and built environment’ which I found enjoyable.
4. How is being a student at an Oxbridge college different to being a student at any other university in the UK?
It can feel excessively insular at times since the city is smaller in size and there are less amenities/entertainment offer than in bigger cities such as London. The pressure can pile on quickly as the terms are shorter than other universities. There may me a "re-adjust gap" for some upon not receiving the grades they were expecting for marked supervision/tutorial work.
5. Is it more difficult for an international student to gain a place at Oxbridge than for a UK based British student?
It depends on the subject that you are doing. This is the case for Medicine as there is a cap on international places, but not necessarily for other subjects. Both universities make an effort to ensure UK state school students are fairly represented. That being said, Oxbridge wants students who are engaged and will make an impact, so students who demonstrate potential will receive an offer regardless of whether they are UK applicants or international applicants.
6. What advice would you give current BIS students who aspire to study at Oxford or Cambridge?
Read widely! Read books about the subject you want to study, not just the books which form part of your IBDP course. Listen to lectures/talks by those in the field you are interested in. Talk informally to your subject teacher(s) about which aspect of the field you found interesting to build your own confidence. Don't be afraid of getting the ‘wrong’ answer because the continued refinement of results is the basis of research.