So insisted the voice in my head when I was told I could apply. At 17, the idea of Higher Education frightened me, not least because none of my five siblings had ever been to University. The path leading to it was littered with obstacles (the prime litterer being myself; but the media played a guilty part too). I spent a large amount of time fretting about the kind of person I had to be to get in to a world-class institution to study English: well-connected, rich, certainly not from Slough. These preconceptions very nearly deterred me from applying.
It took something of an epiphany to change my mind – I remember rushing home from school to pen a personal statement 2 days before the looming deadline, being struck by the realisation that I needed to give Oxford a chance in order for it to give me one.
The truth was that none of those words – well-connected, rich – mattered. Being ‘me’ was absolutely fine; it was how enthused I was by my subject, how much time I had spent pursuing my interest in books outside of school and how I engaged with them critically that the admissions tutors were concerned about. This, and not my background, secured my place at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford.
Fast forward five years and I’m back (and delighted too!); this time as the Outreach Officer. Bit of an odd job title, I know. It basically means that I’m responsible for putting accurate information about Oxford out there so that each and every one of you who is capable of applying considers it. One way I do this is by visiting schools to talk to you guys directly. On one such trip, a student told me: ‘I hadn’t thought of applying because I didn’t think I would fit in – now I know that’s not true’. I had that same fear of feeling out of place before making my application to LMH and I’m sure many of you do too – how wrong I was; I hope I can prove the same for you. Helping me to do this is a team of 40 Student Ambassadors. We’re very excited to be launching this blog, LMH – Access All Areas, to make some sense of things and equip you with the right tools should you like to apply – we sincerely hope that you will.