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Petroc students secure places at Oxbridge

We are extremely proud of students Catherine Tickell, Holly Milton-Jeffries, Lucy Turner, Neha Manoj, Oscar Sharples, Katharine Lydia Bawa-Hellens and Luke Ward, who have all secured places at the prestigious Universities of Oxford and Cambridge. This is an incredible achievement and shows how our student’s hard work and dedication can really pay off.

Here, our students tell us about the application process and how they feel about heading to Oxbridge:

Catherine Tickell – University of Oxford

“I was delighted to receive my offer to read Classics at Oxford, particularly as state school students have historically been at a disadvantage when applying to prestigious universities such as Oxford. The application was a particularly intensive one for Classics, with written work and an aptitude test before being invited to interview; however, my passion for the subject definitely helped make the process much more enjoyable, as it felt like preparation for what it would be like to study at Oxford. Although I felt intimidated by the new skills I had to learn, for example gaining an understanding of how languages work for my Classical Languages Aptitude Test, as well as how to clearly articulate my thoughts for the interviews, I had very supportive teachers and tutors at Petroc who were always ready to help with any concern. There isn’t any set way to prepare for the application process, but I found it useful to notice what things in my Classical Civilisations lessons were interesting to me and explore further by reading academic works or other classical texts to broaden my understanding and demonstrate to Oxford interviewers that I was keen to pursue my interests. At the time, the application was quite nerve-wracking, especially the interview, but I saw each stage as an opportunity to show Oxford the bigger picture of myself as a student, so I was content knowing that I had given it my best effort regardless of whether I found some of the interview questions challenging. My main takeaway from the application experience was to have confidence in my passion for the subject and let that shine through. With this attitude, I felt happy knowing that whatever the outcome of my application, I could continue my enthusiasm for Classics at any university.”

Holly Milton-Jeffries – University of Oxford

“Preparing for all the different stages of the application process was really hard work, and at the time I was proud of myself just for getting it all done – knowing that it paid off has been such a rewarding feeling. It was a real boost of confidence to be going through the process alongside so many other Petroc students because we all understood how nerve-wracking it was and could support each other every step of the way. The encouragement we received from Petroc made the impossible seem possible.

Lucy Turner – University of Oxford

“Getting an offer from The University of Oxford to study languages would not have been possible without my teachers and the support throughout the application and interview processes even if at the time I was unsure of my performance. Petroc’s expectations for all students to strive for more than what they think they can do is beneficial despite the hard work that comes with it!”

Neha Manoj – University of Cambridge

“It honestly still feels so surreal to be an offer holder for Cambridge but I really hope it all works out! The college was there for me throughout the whole way and I’ve found that a lot of my Oxbridge assumptions to be utterly wrong as I’ve gotten to know amazing people along the application process!”

My personal research in preparation for the Countless Youtube videos and articles/blogs of current Cambridge students about their application process experiences alongside mock interviews with some of my teachers which allowed me to refine down what I needed to actively focus on. I personally felt they went well considering I was a lot calmer than in the mocks I had done but not so well that I was utterly confident coming out of both the interview and CLT. However, I had read and heard on multiple occasions that this post-interview/assessment paranoia affects everyone, and you must simply just keep working and let it play out like it ought to.

Petroc supported me hugely, many of my teachers were extremely supportive and willing to give up their time to guide me through the process by assembling practice interviews and constructing feedback which I was able to take on. Also, Sarah Samuels who organises and works through all the admissions processes played a huge role in working to refine and perfect my application which made such a huge difference!”

Oscar Sharples – University of Cambridge

“I feel so shocked and lucky to have been given a place at Cambridge. I haven’t seen many people like me get into a university like Cambridge so it’s great to see that I was able to make a competitive application and it gives me hope that the top universities will hopefully continue to diversify. I’m excited to be a part of that.

I prepared by watching videos and researching other peoples experiences and what they wished they had known before undertaking the interview. There are a lot of resources online from students and staff that give you tips about how best to prepare and how to perform your best. I also spent a lot of time reading around my subject and learning content I had not yet studied at A-level so that I was familiar with all of the course and would be prepared for any topic they could raise in the interview.

The interview was a lot less intense than I expected and very enjoyable. It was a fun conversation and an opportunity to talk about the things I’m interested in. For this reason, I felt I did better than expected but I worried that I hadn’t been able to showcase my knowledge enough and certainly wasn’t expecting an offer!

A lot of the administrative parts of the application were confusing but my lecturers at Petroc were hugely helpful in giving me feedback on my personal statement, essays and arranging mock interviews which made such a huge difference​”

Head of Faculty for Academic Studies, Dr Lynda Broomhead, summed up the feeling at Petroc, saying, “We are once again very proud of our students and are delighted to see that their hard work and dedication has been rewarded with these fantastic opportunities.”


21 April 2021