As many students celebrate A-level results day today, The Oxford Blue spoke to two students about their experiences of applying, being an offer holder and their hopes for the future.  

Finn Walshe – PPE, University College, 2021

February 2020 – Blissfully unaware of the global chaos that was about to ensue, I had a naïve confidence in my plans for the following two years. I’d received a deferred offer from Oxford University and had also secured myself a spot on a Belgian road cycling team, that would see me spending my gap year pursuing elite level racing throughout Europe.

However, by results day my bubble of optimism had popped. I missed my offer by a long way and was rejected by both Oxford, and my second-choice university. Having not had the opportunity to prove myself in exams, I was faced with cancelling my move to Belgium, resitting A-levels and reapplying to university. Five days later, my college u-turned and offered me an unconditional place, bringing a stressful period to an end, but leaving me apprehensive for the following October.

By early 2021, the combined effects of Covid-19 and Brexit forced me to cancel my plans in Belgium. While I have been fortunate to have had plenty of work and other experiences such as running a politics blog and doing endurance challenges on the bike to fill my gap year with, the last 18 months have been frustrating and have left me more than ready to get on with life at university.

Ethan Tan – PPE, Queen’s College, 2022

The reason for my deferred entry is because I’m a Singaporean male citizen and we’re required to serve two years of mandatory military service, typically after finishing our A-levels. I applied to Oxford during my first year in the army. I was glad that the University decided to interview virtually for the 2020-21 cycle. I heard rumours that international applicants opting for virtual interviews instead of travelling for in-person interviews during a typical cycle would be disadvantaged due to the inherent limitations of video conferencing (such as one’s decreased ability to create a memorable impression). Due to my military service, I couldn’t afford the time to fly over for an interview anyway, so I’m glad the playing field was levelled, in a sense.

That being said, it is a slight pity that I didn’t get the chance to explore Oxford and experience what it’s like to live in my college beforehand. I also found my interviews really fun and intellectually stimulating, and I would have loved to meet the tutors in person. Since I matriculate in 2022, I’m still holding out hope that the situation will have normalised enough by then for lectures and tutorials to resume as usual. It’s been pretty sad to see my female friends (who aren’t obligated to enlist) spend almost two years of their university education online, and I’d definitely be a lot less excited if the same were to happen to me.

The Oxford Blue thanks Ethan and Finn for their time and honesty. Congratulations to those receiving places at Oxford today!

If you would like to get in touch with us and share your experience, please email [email protected].

Molayo is a Christian and musician outside his studies and role as Senior News Editor. He likes to write on a range of topics, from Oxford news to international affairs. Having grown up in London, he has grown up amidst diversity and is a strong advocate of letting all voices be heard.