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11:51am on Friday, 13th July, 2007:

Hard Sell of the Softly Sold


Yesterday, at my elder daughter's school, there was an evening event at which parents were invited to listen to presentations from admissions tutors hailing from Oxford and Cambridge. Only those with a realistic hope of making the grade were invited, but nevertheless the room was packed.

The presentation started at 7:30, and it wasn't until 8:30 that they actually said anything relating to why we were there, that is, what your child should do in order to maximise their chances of getting in. The first hour was entirely spent extolling the virtues of Oxbridge as a place to be educated.


This is like trying to persuade people of the benefits of using money to buy things instead of car batteries. We already know they're better than the alternatives, there was no need to trap us in an increasingly sweaty room for an hour to tell us. It wasn't as if anyone there was thinking, "I don't know, I like the sound of Cambridge but that psychology of photograph scheme at the University of the West of Nowhere sounds awfully tempting". If you go to Oxbridge, you're set for life, of course you want to go there.

They spent 25 minutes on how to get in (short version: get all As at A-level, pass the entrance exam, impress at the interview), then took 5 minutes of questions. At 9pm, we escaped into somewere with breathable atmosphere.

If they'd only given the final 25 minutes, that would have been fine. As it was, I missed the beginning of House, damn them!

Referenced by The Gradually Dawning Truth.

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Copyright © 2007 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).