St John's College Oxford
Tilda is a 1st year student

  • Home    Ditcheat, Somerset
  • Degree  English
  • A levels English, History, Philosophy Pre U (Drama AS)       

Tilda ColemanWhat made you choose to study here?
I chose Oxford for academic reasons. The English degree seemed wide-ranging, with a balance of freedom and some compulsory elements. I was also very attracted to the tutorial system. The contact time, feedback and opportunity for discussion is so much greater at Oxford than at other universities.  

Is life here different from how you expected it to be?
The workload is not as overwhelming as I imagined. It is completely manageable most of the time. College choice is more important than I expected or was led to believe. Try and speak to students at various colleges and get a sense of their reputations. For example, some colleges have a stronger work ethic than others, some are more liberal and some have large numbers of sporty students. That wasn’t an exhaustive list!

What do you like about studying at St John’s?
The tutorial system. It is a unique experience. For English, my tutor reads my essay the day after I write it, and we then talk around it for an hour. All the ideas are still fresh in your mind, so the discussion is very stimulating and helpful. I, and I think everyone else doing my course, have improved rapidly without even really realising. Socially, St John’s is a very friendly college. It’s also big with lots going on, so there are always fun things to do - an exhibition or a meal or a bop.  

Are there aspects of  your degree you particularly like?
The English degree in itself is brilliant. I’ve only done it for two terms but the structure, of the authors and periods we study, is so well designed. St John’s has a huge number of grants available, to cover the cost of books and travel related to your subject. The English faculty emails every week with a roundup of the huge range of opportunities English at Oxford includes, like seminars, workshops, writing and essay competitions, careers advice – even free theatre tickets sometimes! 

How do you like to spend your spare time?
I audition for and act in plays. I go to see plays. I listen to music and watch people play. I write for and help to edit a student fashion and design magazine. This term I’ve helped design the sets for a play. There is so much to do with your spare time in Oxford.

What advice would you give someone looking to study at Oxford?
I would say the one thing to really think about if considering applying is whether you care about your subject. Whoever you are, whatever your interests, you will find so many people and so much interesting and fun stuff to do here outside of work. Oxford is incredibly varied. But if work is always a chore you will feel resentful about the time you have to spend doing it, and you won’t appreciate how much Oxford can give you. I also think it’s important not to be perfectionist all the time, and to enjoy being challenged and asked to think on your feet. It isn’t always possible to labour over your work, and it’s counter-productive to be precious about it.