Meet a student!

“There is no one set type of person who can thrive in the Oxford environment”


Hello! My name is Mollie and I’m about to start my 3rd year studying English at Balliol college.


Image of a student

When did your love for English begin?

I’ve loved reading since I was small, and my love for English began when I discovered it in High School as a subject that allowed me to do just that! Gaining access to an abundance of perspectives outside of my own, and analysing those perspectives in relation to a variety of contexts, is, in my opinion, invaluable.

When did your journey to Oxford begin?

I went to a state school in which going to Oxford was not mentioned at all, and nor was applying or attending really heard of in my town. I therefore only heard about Oxford when I got to college and a teacher put it forward to my parents and I as an option. I was very reluctant to give it a shot at first as I lacked confidence in myself, but I’m very glad that I did so – it’s the best decision I’ve ever made!

Who was the person that inspired you to apply?

I think there were two people that inspired me to apply to Oxford, the first being my Dad. He wasn’t aware that Oxford was an option for me either until I got to college, but he’s always been one to encourage me to be the best I can be and to take every opportunity - he did just that with regards to Oxford. He told me that even the experience of applying would be a worthwhile one, regardless of whether I received an offer or not, and his words gave me the confidence to give it a try. The second inspiration for me was my AS Level English Literature teacher – he seemed to truly believe that I had a real shot and that kept me going when I doubted myself along the way during the application process also.

What did you wish you had known before you applied to Oxford?

One of the main reasons for lacking confidence in terms of applying to Oxford was that I thought that it would not be suited to ‘people like me’. I come from a small town up North, neither of my parents went to University, and I’ve attended state schools all my life. Of course, these things do not make anyone inferior; I just thought Oxford was a place for people who come from very different walks of life to me. I wish I had known that this simply is not the case – there is no one set type of person who can thrive in the Oxford environment, and really the only two requirements are academic capability (if you can meet the entry requirements, you are academically capable enough) and a love for your chosen subject.

What is your all-time favourite book?

I wouldn’t say I have one! My favourite writer at the minute, though, is Virginia Woolf, and I also adore Wallace Stevens and J. H. Prynne.

What is one book that surprised you?

There isn’t one particular book, and more a whole host of texts, namely those written in Old English! I was pretty apprehensive about studying this period of literature before I came to Oxford because I’d never studied anything like it before, but I’ve since (unexpectedly!) fallen in love with it and after first year chose to pursue the more medieval stream of the Oxford English course!

What is your favourite thing about Oxford?

This is such a difficult question – I love so many things about the place! If I had to pick just one, I think it would be the amount of like-minded people I’ve found myself surrounded by. Everyone that I’ve met here is incredibly lovely, intelligent and ambitious, and I feel so lucky to have them in my life. I also really love the tutorial system – it helps me to improve so quickly!

What do you hope to do after you graduate?

I’m not entirely sure yet – I’m currently in the process of researching a bunch of different areas and seeing what I’m most drawn to! Currently on my radar are think tanks and charities, and I’m also interested in working for organisations in the realm of equality and diversity! Who knows where I’ll end up!