Applying to St. Anne's College, Oxford University

St. Anne's College - Oxford University

Since its founding, St. Anne’s College has been about widening access to an Oxford Education. St. Anne’s allowed women from the UK, and numerous other countries to study at Oxford University, whilst living more flexibly and affordably at home or in lodgings across the city. 

Earlier this year, the Governing Body of St. Anne’s reaffirmed the College’s purpose to be a diverse and inclusive community contributing to the University’s commitment to lead the world in education and research, while maintaining the College’s legacy and future. St. Anne’s aims to be the home of choice for the brightest and most ambitious students, including those from underrepresented groups and believes that difference should be respected, promoted and celebrated as the diversity of people is a rich source of learning for everyone.

Please click here to read about St. Anne’s purpose driven mission.

Why did you apply to St. Anne’s College?

(a) My school had sent someone to St Anne's two years before me.

(b) It was supposedly one of the best for English.

(c) Tutors sounded cool. (Profile 386)

Absolutely loved the college - although obviously not so aesthetically pleasing as some of the more traditional colleges, it had a really great atmosphere and everyone I met was so friendly. Also pleased that there is enough accommodation for everyone to live on site for three years (student house hassle didn't really appeal), that there are small kitchens if you don't fancy hall food and a very good chance of an ensuite in the second and/or third years. (Profile 656)

Location- in the suburbs, so near country and city centre.

Size- allows for a large diversity of clubs, and societies.

It was personally recommended to me by a friend. (Profile 37)

Modern, friendly, a bit more cosmopolitan than the others. (Profile 69)

It's modern, so not as stuffy & showy-offey as some of the other colleges, and doesn't have as many archaic traditions. It's also quite big. (Profile 454)

Recommended it by several friends from Oxf; reasonably cheap; very chilled out and down to earth people; chances were better given my background in the Sciences (this is of course not something you should mention to interviewers!) (Profile 419)

What was your general impression of St. Anne’s College and any other colleges you visited?

I only visited St Anne's. It seemed nice. Quite ordinary and not at all like the older colleges (which in hindsight are absolutely stunning). (Profile 386)

Liked the people, though wasn't fortunate enough to meet any geniuses. Thus I concluded you needn't be one to get in. The library was AMAZING, very big, but musty. Apparently St Johns and St Anne's have the two biggest libraries of all the colleges. It is one of the poorer colleges tho, so it's smaller than some (e.g. Christ Church, St John's) and certainly not as pleasing to look at. (Profile 419)

As I've said previously - really really nice. Not particularly attractive from the outside, but nice grounds and buildings inside. (Profile 656)

Excellent atmosphere, undergraduate helpers really friendly, interviewees not the typical 'oxford type' that are present in the many rumours (Profile 37)

St Annes was very nice - really nice atmosphere, nice people (I made some great friends at the interview - so don't worry about not liking anyone there - you will!) The college was modern, and I liked that. (Profile 69)

I really liked St Anne's. It wasn't very pretty, like some of the other colleges, but everyone was really down to earth, including the people interviewing me. Some people from other colleges had horrible interviewers. (Profile 454)

Describe the day-to-day aspects of living in the college. If you stayed in college, how was the accommodation? How about the food?

- Accommodation: My room was quite big. It had lots of furniture in it, and a giant wardrobe. I had to share a toilet and bath with everyone else in my building. There were sadly no showers.

- Food: Good. There was a wide selection, with chocolate cake & yoghurts almost every day. You can't complain - it was edible & free. I don't think I spent any money on food all week! (Profile 454)

- Accommodation: It was a pokey room. The window was stuck open and it was December. But now I'm here (in my final year) I've had some pretty good rooms. If you want to live the life of luxury don't come to St Anne's. But you're only a student once, and it would be a shame not to live like one!

- Food: Edible but not great. Food is food. I mainly cook for myself anyway. Oh, note: St Anne's fry ups are wonderful at the time, but catch up on you later! (Profile 386)

- Accommodation: Room was really nice, although freezing and I was kept awake by the wind banging trees against the window both nights. Heaps of toilets, showers and baths everywhere.

- Food: Awful - I think I'm going to get skinny next year! (Profile 656)

- Accommodation: Size of room was moderately big, with large window and a gorgeous view of the College grounds. All facilities were good.

- Food: Excellent (Profile 37)

- Accommodation: The rooms weren't that great, but quite clean and liveable, although I had to go down three flights of stairs to get to a decent shower!

- Food: Good. It was ok, but a lot of the time I was a bit too nervous to eat! (Profile 69)

Any thoughts on the tutors/students at St. Anne’s College?

- Tutors: Two of them were very relaxed and put me at ease. One tutor (who I now know to be really lovely) was quite harsh. The tutors though are not there to freak you out. They want you to be comfortable coz that's when you'll perform best.

- Students: I met a few of them. They were OK. Helpful and informative. (Profile 386)

- Tutors: Fantastic - quite radical and I felt that not getting to be taught by them would have been really disappointing.

- Students: All of them were lovely, but one student in particular (a 2nd year lawyer) really calmed me down and gave me her mobile to tell her how it all went because she wasn't going to be on duty during my interviews. (Profile 656)

- Tutors: Really friendly and really helpful. I treated the interview as more of a formal chat. It is a chance in a lifetime to talk about something which interests you with a tutor who knows so much about it. Just try and enjoy it!

- Students: Mostly friendly, and on the same 'wave length'! Great people who are in the same boat. (Profile 37)

- Tutors: Very nice, I only really spoke to them during my interviews, but they werent as scary as I thought they would be.

- Students: Very friendly and willing to help. (Profile 69)

- Tutors: Very friendly. The modern languages woman was a bit patronising, though.

- Students: They were also very nice. They were being paid £5 an hour to help, though. Some of them tried to give us advice and to say that the interviews aren't that bad. That's all very well, but you can't be lulled into a false sense of security by them; after all, they got in. (Profile 454)

Do you have any advice for future applicants in terms of preparation?

[English Language and Literature] The form: Just be honest, and try to show some passion for your subject. That's what it's all about.

The interview: Relax. Make sure you've read some interesting things recently. Don't over-prepare though. Just open your mind and make sure that your passion for literature comes across loud and clear! (Profile 386)

[Human Sciences] Best advice is to just practise fielding awkward questions, fired at you by a kindly parent! Just practice talking, and thinking out loud. You can never prepare for the actual questions as there are an infinite number you could be asked. But try to prepare for the obvious ones which they usually ask first to get you settled. i.e, why oxford and why this course. Also go through your affirmations in your head, having an air of confidence in yourself and a belief that you can do it is excellent. If the interviewer questions your point, be prepared to defend it, and justify it if you are sure of the point you made. Never back down if just because he/she is an oxford proff.! (Profile 37)

[Law] I read a couple of bog-standard books about the legal system that I had stuck on my personal statement, and also (rather cynically) a book written by one of the law tutors at the college that I had got my Theologian (!) boyfriend to get out of the Social Sciences library. Nothing I did helped at all, or had any bearing on the interview - I felt like I had wasted my time. The tutors were at pains to point out that no legal knowledge was needed to do well in the interviews, which made me relax loads. (Profile 656)

Did you have to submit any written work prior to the interview?

[Human Sciences] 2 essays. 1 from Eng lit. A-level on a book called 'The Great Gatsby' looking at the social context of the jazz age. This showed awareness of other cultures. 2nd was titled 'Jurassic Park;Technically feasible, morally acceptable?'. This weighed up the pros and cons of cloning, bringing the important ethical element into the debate, while questioning the scientific aspect. (Profile 37)

[English Language and Literature] Two essays I think. One was on a little known poet, the other was on Mark Twain. I submitted them basically to show off my written skills. So choose a couple of good uns.

[Oriental Studies] I was asked to submit 2 pieces of written work in any subject I liked. Some friends from Oxford advised that Islamic Studies essays would show motivation, so I wrote one on Quranic Law and another on 'the sunna of the Prophet', and got them marked by the RS Dept of my old school. (Profile 419)

What questions were you asked during your interview(s)?

[English Language and Literature] One of them asked me to analyse a poem. The other two were just more general questinos. They want to see how you think. (Profile 386)

[Human Sciences] Is shopping the new religion? How can we tell by looking at stone tools and metal objects from the ancient civilizations and hunter gatheres, that they had a language? How important is a nuclear family in today's society? Is it ethically right to manipulate a feotus? How would this effect the gene pool of society? Many more which I cant remember… (Profile 37)

[Law] I had two interviews with two tutors that lasted 40 minutes each. They both had a 'helper' who were postgrads I think helping them out. They were running late for both interviews - I had to wait 40 minutes outside before the first and 20 outside for the second.

First one I was given something to look out outside about contracts and things like invitation to treat. All legal terminology was explained on the sheet, then we had to prepare responses to 5 different scenarios. This was the first thing we covered, then there were a couple of ethical questions that didn't really have any answers and then I was asked to define 5 pairs of words and explain differences between them. Second one I was given a sheet about the UN and a new country and I had to explain whether I would have allowed it to be part of the UN or not, then we had a debate about the smoking ban. The second one was much harder and I thought I'd done really well in the first but I honestly couldn't tell how the second one went - the interviewers were much more aggressive. (Profile 656)

[Mathematics] I was asked about why oxford and maths, what i enjoyed at A-Level, and about teaching (as thats what I want to do as a career). the conversations were mainly on maths tho, these included integration, differentiation, curve sketching, balls bouncing (mechanics) and a bit of probability (Profile 48)

What advice do you have for potential applicants based on your experiences?

[English Language and Literature] If you *genuinely* love literature, come to Oxford, make the most of it and you'll have a great time. It's such an honour to be taught by tutors who are the best in their field. (Profile 386)

[Human Sciences]  Enjoy it, and live your subject for about 4 months before, by background reading and news items. Create a cuttings file, with every useful bit of info you may have consolidates everything. (Profile 37)

[Oriental Studies] Start planning early. If you don't get in, it's not the end of the world. At the end of the day, success usually depends upon how hard an individual tries rather than which institution he ends up in. If you’re doing it for kudos, don't bother. (Profile 419)