A place at Oxford or Cambridge is the objective of some of our brightest pupils. A number arrive at Cranleigh already with Oxbridge ambitions, others emerge as possible candidates during their time here. Those applying are encouraged to undertake their own personal research and reading in order to deepen their understanding and appreciation of their subject. They are allocated a mentor from the relevant department who guides them through the application process and provides a structured programme of individual meetings and small-group discussions, to consider additional reading and discuss relevant academic issues. These give the candidates the opportunity to articulate their ideas, to challenge points of view and beliefs, to defend and justify their opinions and to widen their knowledge and understanding of their chosen subject. This “stretching” process is aimed at preparing the pupils for the demands of the Oxbridge interview.
Interview practice is provided: we link up with other schools and invite academics from outside the school to help with this. We keep closely in touch with colleges and with Old Cranleighans in residence there and members of the LVIth visit colleges and university departments.
We start the Oxbridge application process in the UVth with introductory talks and briefings for pupils and parents. This helps potential applicants with the selection of VIth Form courses, which should take account of Oxbridge requirements.
Anyone is welcome to consider an Oxbridge application, but the acquisition of very good GCSE grades is a first priority: Oxbridge applicants nationally have, on average, 7 A*s. LVIth AS Level examinations then provide evidence when the final decision whether to attempt an application is considered. A minimum of 3 A grades is required and the universities are looking for high individual module scores, generally over 90%. Those in the LVIth considering an application are encouraged to attend one or both of the open days at Oxford and Cambridge at the end of June and beginning of July. Over the summer, a piece of work appropriate to the subject is set in order to focus the candidate’s thoughts, encourage wider research and reading, and confirm interest in the subject. This piece of work is followed up at the start of the following term.
In the UVIth, a separate application procedure runs in parallel with the UCAS structure. Oxbridge candidates submit an on-line application form to UCAS by the middle of October and Cambridge also requires candidates to complete an on-line Supplementary Application Questionnaire (SAQ). Candidates apply to a college at one of the universities, and examples of their written work may also be required. We run a mentoring system whereby candidates are linked with a member of Common Room in the discipline for which they are applying. The mentor guides them through the application process and provides a structured programme of meetings and discussions. These give the candidates the opportunity to articulate their ideas, to challenge points of view and beliefs, to defend and justify their opinions and to widen their knowledge and understanding of their chosen subject. Advice about college choice, personal statements and any submitted written work is given. Candidates also attend lectures, visits and conferences which are organised through the departments.
At the end of the LVIth and in the October and November of the UVIth, interview practice is provided: we link up with other schools and invite academics from outside the School to help with this. We keep closely in touch with colleges and with Old Cranleighans in residence there.
Most of those who apply can expect to be called for interview (and possibly for written tests) in December, after which applicants may receive, during the Christmas holidays or just after, the offer of a place dependent upon A2 grades. Competition for places at Oxbridge is increasingly competitive (nationally, 25% of applications are successful), but last year 9 out of 22 applicants from Cranleigh secured places. It is also possible to apply after A Levels – in some cases even after an earlier rejection.