Dreaming Spires becomes a reality

March 01 2015

Angus Braithwaite is now in his second term at one of the most renowned University’s on the planet, yet his journey from Chipping Sodbury School to Mansfield, the youngest college at Oxford wasn’t all plain sailing.

Angus Braithwaite

Angus Braithwaite is now in his second term at one of the most renowned University’s on the planet, yet his journey from Chipping Sodbury School to Mansfield, the youngest college at Oxford wasn’t all plain sailing.


Sitting here, writing this article after taking a break from one of my worksheets, I realise just how much I take for granted, where I am right now. I’d always done well at school and even from a fairly young age I had high aspirations. Ever since a school trip 4 years ago to visit Lincoln College, it has been my dream to study at Oxford.
But it was on that first visit that I began to realise what I’d need to do to get there. Chatting to two students studying there, it was a bit of a shock to the system to discover they had both attained 12 A*’s.
Having just started my GCSE’s, it was apparent that my journey had to begin straight away.
As a student at Chipping Sodbury Secondary School I managed to get 9A*s and 2As in my GCSEs, doing the best in my year, so at least by year 11 I was on target for Oxford.
I stayed on at Chipping Sodbury Sixth Form knowing that our new head had high ambitions for us all. But my first year didn’t go quite to plan. 3 A’s in maths, chemistry and physics but only a C in history left me weighing up the options of re-sitting, or trying to make up my marks. I made the difficult choice to drop history, knowing that with only 3 A levels it would be extremely difficult to get an interview, let alone a place at Oxford.
Wanting to study a subject like Materials Science, my 3 A levels did suit this subject so it meant I could focus purely on science and luckily, it paid off and I managed to get an interview (not forgetting the “Oxbridge” tailored personal statement and the entrance exam first).
The day of my interviews was one that I will never forget just because of the sheer cognitive stress applied over the total time of about 2 hours. I waited about a month before I got my offer not only to study Materials but at my first choice college of Mansfield. It was so unexpected and flattering knowing that they thought I had the capability and the potential. But now I had to prove it by getting at least A*AA.
Never have I felt such a sense of, not joy, but relief upon opening that envelope and seeing A*A*A after having spent the entire holidays fighting off even the tiniest of thoughts of getting the grades I needed because I simply wouldn’t have been able to cope with the disappointment.
And now, I’m literally living my dream and I’m only 18. Don’t get me wrong, my dream is by far the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life and it’s easy to get caught up in the work and forget just what it means to be here. But when I do get a break, like now, it’s humbling to think about where I’ve come from and where I am now and I couldn’t dream of anything better.