Rejection is the first step to acceptance

If you’re reading this, chances are you’re a student at The University of York, or that garishly tattooed bloke who always hangs around The Courtyard.

Nevertheless, anyone with some experience of the University will be aware of its brimming population of cardigan clad, chino wearing champagne socialists, who were unsuccessful in their Oxford applications.

But as a better-spoken version of Take That traded off their tales of rejection with many a chunter and snort in my Politics seminar earlier this term, I began to wonder if their, or indeed my own bitterness, is entirely necessary.

Far from the glamour of bi-weekly bops, boogying in The Bodleian or partying with the next PM, the reality of Oxford is something quite different to a three-year homage to Harry Potter. Students are more likely to be isolated in their room, often for days at a time, trudging through mountains of reading that even a Nepalese Sherpa would think twice about.

Pressured by the fear of failure, with perhaps just enough time for a few crammed in mouthfuls of Pot Noodle for dinner, the Oxford cohorts are sorted, wheat from chaff, and ground down into the flour that makes the upper crust. I have to ask, are we really missing out?

It is really only our pride that suffers, not our prospects

Although this is a gross generalisation and I’m sure many students do occasionally stumble upon a social life in a haze of academic overdose, the point remains that Oxford is not the guaranteed stepping-stone to greatness that pushy parents insist it is.

No one likes rejection, and those that apply to Oxford will have dealt with little of this before in their academic lives. The average Oxford reject will be used to constant praise for an unfaltering string of A grades, where failure has rarely been an option. But what I’m trying to say is that it’s not the end of the world.

York has most of the stuff you wanted from Oxford anyway: cobblestone streets, old bridges, a cathedral as well as a few eccentric academics and stacks of bright, funny and friendly people. Besides, have you not noticed the striking resemblance between The Shambles and Diagon Alley?

Of course, it would have been nice if Oxford had wanted us. You’ll hear lots of people say how they would like to have got in, “just so I could reject them”.

Because that’s what we really want from Oxford isn’t it – confirmation that we’re good enough? It is really only our pride that suffers, not our prospects, and certainly not our development as ‘rounded individuals’.

But for this short-lived placate, we would have entered into some Faustian pact, signing away our lives just to say we went to Oxford. And little good it would have done you, if you lacked ambition in the first place. I’m not saying York is a better university, but it might be a better experience. For a start, we’re spared the surrealism of watching grown men carry teddy bears across campus.

So instead of seeing your rejection as a complete and resounding failure consider it the equivalent to an annoying but minor ailment, such as acne or the queue to Willow.

One comment

  1. I’m not “a student at The University of York, or that garishly tattooed bloke who always hangs around The Courtyard” but I really like your article. Good job and keep going !

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