I have to give this student credit for doing what I’ve always wanted to do. My #1 college choice for undergrad was Providence College, a private college with (even at the time) very high tuition and fees. I was a fairly decent high school student, with a high GPA and SAT scores, extracurriculars, volunteer work, and a letter of recommendation from a major alum (one of my high school teachers). I was accepted, but offered a mere $1500/year scholarship. As a biochem major, this would barely cover my books and lab costs, let alone tuition and room/board (I was out-of-state). Even at the time, I felt as if it would have been better to have been rejected than to have been accepted and have no way of being able to go without going into astronomical amounts of debt (my parents were in no financial situation to help me, which one look at my FAFSA would have indicated had they chosen to look).
Anyways, this student brought up some excellent points about the problems of Oxford’s education system in her open letter. They got me to thinking about what I have perceived in the past as unfair practices in my own path towards a degree. Here are a list of her problems from the end of her letter (taken from this The Daily Mirror article):
1) Whilst you may believe your decision to hold interviews in grand formal settings is inspiring, it allows public school applicants to flourish in the
environment they are accustomed to and intimidates state school applicants, distorting the true academic potential of both.
2) Whilst you may believe your traditions and rituals are impressive, they reflect badly on your university. As an institution that preaches academic excellence teaching your students to blindly and illogically do whatever they are told reveals significant flaws in your education system. Frankly. I feel humiliated for both you and your students.
3) During my time at Magdalen College the obvious gap between minorities and white middle-class students was embarrassing. Whilst I realise you are trying to address these problems within your university, the gap between elitism and discrimination is a narrow one and one that you still do not appear to have adequately addressed.
4) Perhaps offer a glass of water in your interviews next time it is rude to torture guests.