The charity helping northern state students reach our best universities

Ruby Nixson - 2017 Cohort

October 2020

Ruby, part of our 2017 cohort, was kind enough to write about her time with Linacre. She offers advice to upcoming students and those thinking of applying to Oxford. Thank you, Ruby!

My name is Ruby and I was lucky enough to be a part of the 2017 Linacre cohort. I’d known that I wanted to study maths since the age of 15 but I never imagined for a second that I’d end up at Oxford. I applied to the University of Oxford and was accepted to start a maths degree at Christ Church in 2018. Now about to start my 3rd year, I’m so glad I had the support from Linacre during my application process - I couldn’t imagine myself anywhere else! The maths course at Oxford is a really rigorous course; you get to learn such a wide variety of material in the first year which really helped me to find my path as I continue to choose modules for the rest of my degree. I’m beginning to focus more on the applied/statistical side of the courses available and hope to find a career in disease modelling.

Linacre opened up a world which seemed very different from my town in South Yorkshire. The once-in-a-lifetime opportunities we had on the London summer school were incredible, but a personal highlight for me was the time spent chatting with the rest of the cohort in Cambridge about what we all hoped to do. Being able to chat with like-minded people who wanted more than our local areas offered was eye-opening. It made me realise that despite Oxbridge application/acceptance rates still being low in the North, I wasn’t alone in wanting to make a good go of it.

Maths is a course which requires an entrance test and interview at both Oxford and Cambridge. I’d never known anyone who had been to Oxbridge and had never seen the style of maths found at university, so this seemed incredibly scary to me! Linacre provided small classes with Oxbridge academics on both summer schools and gave me access to a personal tutor in the run-up to the entrance test and interview - all for free! There are so many prep courses online which charge an extortionate amount for help with these tests, so the assistance I received from Linacre was incredible! The Oxford teaching style is nothing like what I’d experienced in school, so having the help from Linacre made that jump a bit more manageable.

Whilst it is still pretty rare to hear an accent like my own while I’m in Oxford, it gives me comfort that people at Linacre are working so hard behind the scenes to change that. Oxford is still very much Southern and male dominated, but I have hope that it won’t always be that way. For current and prospective students, all I can say is just go for it! Never let anyone tell you that you can’t get to where you want to be - just give it a go, and you might be surprised by the outcome. I never dreamed I’d have the life that I have now, and Linacre was the best first experience of the Oxbridge world that I could’ve asked for. If you are lucky enough to experience the programme, throw yourself into everything that they offer - you won’t regret it!

Ruby enjoys her time in Christ Church, Oxford