Coming down from your country to the UK you are not going to settle for anything les than Oxbridge. However, the Oxbridge application process is slightly more elaborate/confusing/time-consuming than that for other universities. I just finished my first year at Oxford and I am here to help you on your way and tell you: It is a 100% worth it!
The hardest thing about the application process is the time it takes. You basically have to start thinking about your application 2 years before you want to start your course. This does not only mean that you have to know what you want to study very early on, but also, that you have to keep motivated and on track. Just keep your eyes on the price and remember what you're doing it for. Watch a youtube video every now and again of an Oxford student showing you around his college or talking about Oxford life. This way you will remember yourself why you're applying and why it is worth doing your absolute best in all the steps of the application process.
Here is a rough run-through of the complete process:
- (2 years before start course): Decide on course
- Take part in relevant extra-curricular activities
- (1,5 year before start course): Start writing your personal statement
- Ask your teachers for references
- If applicable to your course, sit relevant exams
- (1 year before the start of your course): 15 October: UCAS deadline
- 4-16 December: Interviews
- 11 January: Results
- Get the grades for your conditional offer
- 2 October: Welcome in Oxford
As you can see it is quite a list. Just make sure not to miss any deadlines: know when you need to arrange what. Specifically for Dutch students, or for International students in general, I have made an overview with more information on all of the steps.
Also, remember that for Oxford and Cambridge, you don't apply to the university, but to a specific college. Not sure how to choose a college? Look up the colleges on the web, make out what you find important in a college, shortlist, and choose. You can also go for an open application, where you'l be randomly allocated to a college. Anyhow, remember that there is quite a chance you'll get reallocated. This might mean that you'll be interviewed by a college you didn't in the first place apply for, or that you get an offer from a college where you did not have your interview. But I can tell you: you'll love the college you end up anyways!
Coauthored by Wiesje van den Heerik