Preparing for Oxbridge

Posted on 21st Mar 2023 in Sixth Form

Every year, our S6 students begin preparations for life beyond school. This year, four of them are getting ready to begin their next chapter at Oxford and Cambridge. 

We managed to catch up with three of them, to ask them about their journey from ESMS to Oxbridge. Connor M (left) and Hugo M (right) are both going to Oxford, to study History and Philosophy and German respectively, whilst Eleanor W (centre) is pursuing Psychological and Behavioural Sciences at Cambridge, showing the fantastic breadth of opportunities and interests of our students pursue. 

Congratulations on securing your first choice. What are you looking forward to the most about starting university?  

Connor M: I am looking forward to studying the subject I am most passionate about, in-depth, with some of the leading academics in the field. Having the opportunity to study alongside people who share my love of History is also extremely exciting. 

Eleanor W: As Psychology is a subject I greatly enjoy researching in my own time, the prospect of being able to learn about this every day is extremely exciting. That said, I will miss being able to learn about the wide range of subjects I have studied at school. I will also miss my friends and all of the people that I have gotten to know in my time at ESMS, but I am really excited to meet new people at university. 

Hugo M: I am excited to meet people as fascinated in my course as I am. In a country in which fewer people are choosing to learn a foreign language, the opportunity to interact with others who admire the skills and opportunities that come with picking up a new language is valuable and rare.  I will miss the strong community spirit that exists at ESMS, both in the classroom and on the sports grounds, which is hard to rival! 

What inspired your subject choice?  

Connor M: I have always been interested in History. However, it was the passion and the expertise of the History department here that inspired me to take it as a degree. They always found a way to make the subject engaging, whether it be through letting us get hands-on with the range of antiques and relics that are in the archive or through guided walking tours of Dean Village. 

Eleanor W: As part of the S4 PSE curriculum I took the Morrisby Test which recommended subjects and professions suited to me, one of which was Psychology. I then researched it in more depth and have greatly enjoyed looking into this subject over the last two years. 

Hugo M: Germany is at the heart of Europe, and will only increase in global importance during this century. Additionally, the German-speaking world’s consistent and high value in music – from Mozart to modern techno and electronica – aligns closely with my own interests. It is also the land of great thinkers, such as Ludwig Wittgenstein, who have inspired me to take Philosophy as a way to discern sense from nonsense. Philosophy is not a conventional subject, but it offers analytical viewpoints on all aspects of life. 

How did the school help you to secure a place in Oxbridge?  

Connor M: The school has been excellent in providing me with opportunities to boost my application and gain a place. Primarily with a wide range of extracurricular activities, including CCF, debating and choir which allowed me to present a more well-rounded application. I also received fantastic support from the Sixth Form staff, including my tutor Ms Buckle, who worked closely with me to ensure my personal statement was the best it could be.  

Eleanor W: The two mock-interviews, organised by the school, that I did prior to my interview at Cambridge, helped to grow my confidence in expressing my thoughts and helped me to get used to taking part in online interviews. 

Hugo M: The Modern Language Department’s experience in Oxbridge applications allowed me to prepare for the entrance test. One-on-one sessions with the Head of the German Department gave me a focused period of study each week, during which I could go over the practice papers I had done. 

How are you preparing for the move to university life away from Edinburgh?  

Eleanor W: The ESMS S5 Enrichment and S6 Preparation for Adult Life Seminars (PALs) courses have covered a wide range of subjects, helping to me to learn a range of skills including cooking, mental wellbeing support and understanding risk-taking.  

Hugo M: The assistance from teachers and online resources available to me via the school have cleared up a lot of the uncertainties and misconceptions about starting at university, which I had at the beginning of the year. 

What aspects of your time with ESMS will you take with you to the next chapter in your education?  

Connor M: The main thing I will take from my time at ESMS is to say yes to all the opportunities that arise, and there have been many. This year alone I have been able to be a part of the Yearbook Committee, take part in international debating competitions and lead the RAF team in an inter-school competition. All of this happened because I was encouraged to grasp any challenge I was given. 

Eleanor W: My Advanced Highers this year have helped me to develop a range of academic skills. The experimental design components of my Statistics and Biology courses will stand me in good stead for research at university. Furthermore, the process of reading and collating information and expressing this through class discussions and essays has been invaluable skills that I have learned from my History course. But most of all, my more challenging subjects throughout the years have taught me to ask questions and not to be afraid of not understanding new concepts right away. 

Hugo M: The value of being able to get along with others is quickly learned at ESMS. It’s a large and diverse school, and being surrounded by a wide array of personalities has shown me the importance of accepting others who are different from myself – a lesson which I plan to extend to anybody I meet at university. 

We hope they’re as proud of their success as we are, and we are excited to see where this new chapter leads them! 

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