• Question: Is science difficult in Oxford because it is proclaimed to be the best University in the world?

    Asked by aussiegirl1 to Dave on 13 Jun 2018.
    • Photo: David Grainger

      David Grainger answered on 13 Jun 2018:

      This is a very good question!
      I did not move straight from the University of Oxford after finishing school. Instead, I studied Medical Science at the University of Birmingham for three years. This was great because it gives me some perspective and gives me something to compare the famous Oxford to.
      When I first got my offer to do my PhD here, I was a bit intimidated by the reputation of the University but since joining and settling in here, I see that there is really nothing to be scared of. The people are very much the same as when I was in Birmingham. I think many people see Oxford as where all the geniuses go and it is full of socially awkward geeks who are trapped in their own brilliant thoughts. This is far from the case. While there are many very intelligent people here, they are not some super-human, mega-geeks with crazy scientific ability.
      However, having said that I think there may be a slightly higher expectation put upon me than when I was in Birmingham. This ultimately means I am expected to work harder and produce better results. While it sounds scary, I think this is exactly what I need at this point in my career. To be pushed and see where my potential could lead me.
      I’d just finish by saying that the reputation Oxford brings with it can quite quickly make you feel like you are not good enough for it. A major reason I never applied to Oxford when I was at school is that nobody told me I was good enough for it. Looking back, I think I should have tried because what was the worst that was going to have happened?! I am only here now because a great mentor told me I was good enough for it and that I should believe in myself enough to apply. I would encourage you to do the same because the people here are just ordinary, like the rest of the world and not some elite club of brain-boxes.