Ronan Marron is studying Human Social and Political Sciences at King’s, and is specialising in the Politics and International Relations side of the course. He’s from the rural west coast of Ireland, and he’s here to tell us about his application process as an overseas student.
Applying from an international school can be a daunting prospect. I was doing the Irish Leaving Certificate, which while standard in Ireland is very different to A-Levels or IB. My school didn’t have any real history of sending students to Oxbridge. Even applying through UCAS to any uni was rare. So as you can imagine, there wasn’t a huge amount of guidance or encouragement available. This didn’t make it in any way an insurmountable challenge, it just meant I had to be a little more on the ball with my personal statement, keeping to deadlines and getting everything I needed for my application in on time. The grade transcript, SAQ, and the early application process all seemed like a lot to handle, but the admissions contacts both at the college and the university were very helpful.
Traveling for the interview and staying overnight in the college was also a little daunting. A lot of other students that I talked to seemed a lot better prepared by their schools or their parents, and I was naturally a little nervous and had no idea what to expect. I didn’t think that I had read enough. So far as I could tell, my interviews went atrociously, and I wasn’t accepted the first year I applied to Emmanuel College.
I remember getting the rejection letter being absolutely crushing. I took a year out, by no means with the sole focus of going to Cambridge. In fact, I almost left it off my second UCAS application, fearing another confidence bruising rejection. In the end though I realised that it was worth ago – if you keep the whole ‘oxbridge’ thing in perspective (it really isn’t the be all and end all), then there is really nothing to lose by going for it.
I didn’t feel any better prepared or less nervous for my second interview and test. In spite of the extra year I didn’t really feel all that well prepared – but now I realise that no one ever really feels prepared for something as odd as a Cambridge interview.
I was accepted the second time, unconditionally, having received my grades the previous summer. I’ve enjoyed Kings an awful lot, even though it’s a bit strange starting at first. It’s kind of true that there are some people who seem suited to typical kind of Cambridge life, yet soon I found King’s very chilled and very down to earth, breaking down a lot of preconceptions about Cambridge. I’m so glad that I came here. It’s academically tough, but not as daunting as you imagine before you get here. I have to admit that I was worried that no one would enjoy going out, drinking or just having fun. Needless to say that definitely is not true, I’ve found a crowd of friends who will go out with me any night of the week, but also work hard with me, making endless coffee for those last minute deadlines.
When all is said and done, in spite of it all seeming tough – I’m glad that I took a chance and chose to apply. It isn’t as scary or challenging as it can all seem at the outset. I’d encourage others to lose all of the weird stuck up notions of Cambridge as a place of the super-worthy or the super-posh. At the end of the day, it’s just another university, albeit a very good one, full of people like me and you.