Ann-Marie Jay, Worcester 2012

Undergraduate

What made you want to study Earth Sciences?

I wanted to keep a range of science subjects (picking which of chemistry and physics I preferred was tough!) and I had really enjoyed studying geology as an enrichment so Earth Sciences seemed like the perfect choice, especially considering I’d always been fascinated by the way the world works.

Why Oxford?

At the time I wanted to focus on geology rather than any other science discipline so Oxford’s Earth Science course seemed a better match for me than the Cambridge equivalent of Natural Sciences. I wasn’t sure whether Oxford would be for me at first – I applied just to see if I would be good enough to get accepted! I enjoyed my time here during interviews so much that I fell in love with the place and haven’t looked back since!

Why Worcester?

I came to look round a couple of colleges on an open day and was captivated by the mix of old and new at Worcester, and not to mention the lake! It also helped that I would be guaranteed College accommodation for at least 3 years out of the 4 years of my degree. I was lucky to have gotten a place at the college I applied to as a lot of those in my year were reassigned to other colleges, but now they all love the colleges they go to.

How did you find the transition from the foster care system to university?

When I was a teenager I went into care. I was lucky in that I had a really supportive foster carer and social worker who made me feel like it wasn’t unusual for a care leaver to go to university at all. The transition to university life has been quite different from that of my friends who have to move back home at the end of every term as I now live in Oxford for the duration of my degree. I have found Oxford to be incredibly supportive of those from backgrounds such as mine, especially since I receive a Moritz-Heyman Scholarship from the university to help with the financial side of things. The pastoral support can vary from college to college, but at Worcester there are peer supporters to talk to and I have found my tutor to be really kind and patient with me if I’ve been struggling with things. In first year, I had a lot of self-doubt but now that I’m in third year, I know that there is no difference in how I am treated academically in relation to my peers. The university has a pretty good provisions in the most part for pastoral support, from what I’ve experienced. If you need help, generally it can be found somewhere.

How did you find the application process?

Surprisingly easy. As there are no extra tests or written work to submit, I just filled out my UCAS form and waited to hear back from the universities I applied to. The interviews were a tad daunting but the students who were around to help put me at ease massively. Once I had my offer I just worked my socks off to make sure I got the grades I needed.

What advice would you give students in Y11 or Y12, thinking about applying to Oxford?

Make sure you work hard to get the grades you’ll need, but if you’re struggling with workload at A level, Oxford may not be the best place for you – the 8 week terms are very intense and the workload is a big step up from school. Otherwise, go for it! If you’re unsure you may as well apply – the worst that can happen is you don’t get an offer, which is definitely not the end of the world as there are a lot of other great universities out there.

What has been the best thing about the course?

There’s such a variety of things to study that you can’t get bored and the field trips are pretty good fun too. Also, being in a small department with a broad range of research specialities means that you can have tutorials with lots of different academics (postgrads all the way through to the lecturers) who all specialise in different things.

What’s the best thing about the department?

Being part of a small department is wonderful; you get to know everyone in your year at the other colleges (not something you get to do as easily on bigger courses) and also people across the whole department.

What was the thing you least expected?

The sheer amount of time that I would spend doing maths (which is why it’s compulsory to have a maths A level to get in!)

What do you hope to do after your degree?

I want to work with disadvantaged children and young people and try to keep them engaged and involved with their education and help them either go to university or develop their own career plans. Not exactly directly related to Earth Sciences, I know, but it’s something I hope will be really rewarding and I will be able to use a lot of the transferable skills I have learned throughout my degree.