The crushing disappointment of not receiving a Hogwarts letter on our eleventh birthdays is one that has stayed with us all, and will surely overshadow the sweaty F5 key that is UCAS’ calling card.
Oxford may boast the Great Hall, but it is the Slytherins of Christ Church who line its long tables, while being pooled to the doldrums of St Hugh’s is a fate worse than anything J. K. Rowling was ever able to imagine.
However, although they may not include that coveted trip to Diagon Alley, the preparations you make for Oxford could well determine the tone of your first year. But, never fear, OxStu is here to make sure that everything goes smoother than a greased-up narwhal.
First, deal with your reading list. Many naïve freshers labour under the dangerous impression that all of the books need to be read, and sign away their summers, trading palm trees for Palmerston and Reading for reading. Some, in the most tragic cases of youthful hubris, will even attempt to trawl through the entirety of an English Literature reading list.
Don’t let that selfishly well-read tute partner be you. Make sure that you enjoy your summer. Secondary texts are just that: secondary. College parents will often provide useful intelligence on the distinction between books you have to read, and books you have to read. In a way, this economy of effort is a skill more valuable than anything a reading list can teach you.
Many a ‘topLAD’ will emphasise the importance of training your liver to withstand colossal quantities of Tesco’s Everyday Value Vodka, building up tolerance over the summer just as a gentle gardener tenderly coaxes a fragile acorn into a mighty oak. But, if you really want to get ahead, we recommend adding a few extras to your inebriate’s repertoire. One vomiting technique, loosely translated from ancient Chinese as the ‘Chunder Dragon’, will secure you especial renown.
A little self-knowledge goes a long way in the traditional pre-university shopping trip. It has long been hypothesised that a by-product of your inevitable Freshers’ Flu infection in November is the onset of chronic undergraduate idleness, an affliction which will last you the precise duration of your course. Don’t, therefore, buy up the John Lewis crockery section, unknowingly overselling yourself in your belief that you will ever cook food for yourself, let alone for the rest of your staircase. Stick to hall food; failing that, Pot Noodles provide nutrition in abundance. And go for plastic cups rather than glasses you’ll have to wash up.
The old cliché rings true: the hard work starts here. Whether or not you’ve had stellar results, now’s the time to reach for the stars. Bin the books. Learn the Chunder Dragon. And leave Brideshead at home. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.
Photo/Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library
Photo/S J Sorg