For over two decades Inga Neaves, founder of Scion Mastery, has helped students gain admittance to the highest quality educational establishments the UK has to offer. Neaves recognises what makes the British education system stand above others on the world stage. Yet there is a growing backlash to striving for an Oxbridge education. Here she puts forward a passionate defence of those who pass through the halls of Oxford and Cambridge.
As a careers adviser, who has been guiding many young people through the Oxbridge admissions system, I am sick and tired of the constant negative rhetoric aimed at Oxbridge from left, right and centre.
I am fed up with company owners who brag about having been ‘C’ students but are now hiring Oxbridge graduates on a six-figure salary. Equally, I am jaded by the directionless and reckless students from other universities who claim that their life is fun and adventurous, while the nerds at Oxbridge are boring snobs.
I find it even more annoying when this rhetoric comes from Oxbridge grads themselves, who were given a chance but wasted the opportunity they worked so hard to achieve. They blame the rigorous Oxbridge system for treating them unfairly, while also conveniently failing to mention their essay submissions were a few hours past the deadline.
The education system in the UK is being compromised by many factors. People, who have no experience of Oxbridge, are spreading rumours about how a degree from Oxbridge is nothing special, and how their students are geeks with no sense of fun.
Many company leaders have such a big chip on their shoulder that no number of zeroes on their salary could resolve. They brag about being drop-outs while being the professional superiors to Oxbridge graduates. However, I have noticed that these same bosses often reached their position through bullying, schmoozing, and luck. Therefore, why do these same bosses, who brag about their humble roots, have strict rules to hire only Oxbridge grads? Why are these employers, who tear down the value of an Oxbridge education, the same parents who will donate to any theatre or laboratory for their children to be educated in the best schools and universities?
Retrospection may take time to reveal itself, but the luck of the drop-out entrepreneur will run out eventually, even when Oxbridge educated advisors predicted the downfall long before. The value of the acumen possessed by many Oxbridge graduates is timeless.
In terms of social activities, nothing is more boring than listening to a social entrepreneur stroke his ego by monologuing about his success. On the contrary, Oxbridge grads always have something interesting to discuss. They're taught to look at issues from their own perspective and form their own ideas, instead of regurgitating opinions from the Daily Mirror. However, there are plenty of amazing company owners who achieved their position without going to Oxbridge but are clever enough to realise the value in such an education. They see the value in catching up on the education they had no time or chance to acquire and are proud to work alongside those who learned critical thinking and industriousness at the best academic institutions.
Therefore, there is some truth in the argument that Oxbridge students are ‘bookworms’. You need discipline, persistence, and intelligence to become an Oxbridge graduate. You cannot learn a term’s worth of information in one night while running on 10 cups of coffee. Creativity is essential, but protocol must not be forgotten. You will be expected to have extra-curricular experience, while being disciplined with your academic deadlines.
So, what does it take to win a place at one of these prestigious institutions? The winning formula to be accepted into Oxbridge is rather unextraordinary, on the contrary, it is simple. Work diligently and frequently, question everything you are presented with and find confirmation of these ideas from different sources. You need to return to following your child-like curiosity and go wherever it leads. If this sounds tough, think about when you will be describing yourself to a potential employer – working hard now means an easier life later.
Finally, for young brits wanting to protect future generations – make sure to keep greatness in the title. The British system of education has delivered more inventors, artists, and adventurers to the world than any other territory of similar size on earth. Oxbridge and other top academic institutions must be celebrated for both their legacy and future potential. We need to encourage students from all walks of life to aspire to enter these universities, rather than implying that the system is weighted against them.
Those who criticise an Oxbridge education should feel free to live in a world free of such bores – a world free of the World Wide Web (Sir Tim Berners-Lee, Oxford), the Theory of Evolution (Charles Darwin, Cambridge), or the Theory of Gravity (Sir Isaac Newton, Cambridge).