Jules Upson, a Year 13 pupil at Elizabeth College, has just received an offer of a place at Wadham College, University of Oxford, to study English.
The 17-year-old was delighted.
‘I really do love English, I’ve always read and I’ve always acted, and just being able to do something that I love for the next three years will open up whatever possibility it does, I think it’s really important to do whatever it is you’re passionate about, and it happens that I’m passionate about English and reading.’
The application process involved submitting a personal statement, a 2,000-word essay on metaphysical poetry, and a Zoom interview with the course tutors at Wadham.
Jules said the popular image of academics posing impenetrable questions was not his experience of the interview.
‘I had a lot of trepidation about applying because the prestige associated with the university is daunting, but there’s no Oxford or Cambridge type, the thing I would say is be yourself because they’re looking for people who are true to themselves and doing what they are passionate about.
‘The questions were phrased in ways that I wasn’t really used to, it was nothing like what colour is the sky or anything like that, but it was trying to make me think in new ways, so it was based off the text I’d submitted but putting it in a way that I wasn’t familiar with, so I had to deal with that on the spot.
‘You’re not expected to have an encyclopaedic knowledge of anything in particular, just knowing what you know and being able to articulate ideas and be open to fresh concepts.’
For now, Jules needs to focus on getting straight As at A-level in English literature, drama and French to meet the conditions of his offer.
Acting helps him to relax away from the books and last year he played a bearded Bill Sykes in the school production of Oliver.
In a time of pandemic uncertainty Jules said he was coping with the pressure by just taking things a day at a time.
‘Whatever happens we’re enormously lucky to be in the position we’re in at the moment, thanks to everything done by Dr Nicola Brink, the Guernsey Together movement and the wider community, so I’m definitely taking the days as they come.
‘As a school this year we’ve seen a real united spirit in whatever we’ve done, we’ve really bonded together, which means so much more considering the adversity we’ve had, so we’ve just got to keep going and do what we can.
‘I want to thank the school for all their help and wider support, academically and emotionally, I’m enormously grateful for the facilities that college has given me.’