Thursday, October 15, 2009

Not a level field

Study all you want. Ace the 'A's and aim for a place at the U. But apart from attaining a glowing transcript, there's still one little hurdle to conquer -- the university interview. Here's where we separate the merely studious from the true survivors of the kind of cranial gymnastics a good university education should encompass.

The latter are the ones who appreciate that curriculum content amounts to a sum total of zero at this level of study and hence do not rely on it exclusively to get by. The true survivor knows that context is everything. Context gives content meaning and application. Context stretches content and makes connections with other content regardless of subject area. Muggers, therefore, focused as they are on learning by the book don't usually have a very good time at the U. There are simply too many books to learn in the library.

We've heard that at the university interview, we get asked strange questions that don't seem to relate to the subject of the course we are applying for. That's because grades alone are insufficient to assess the capabilities of applicants. Two candidates with exactly the same top grades competing for a place at the U are not necessarily playing on a level field. The one who is able to process and contextualise content will always have the advantage over the one who can merely retrieve it.

Oxbridge has released some of these odd interview questions and some successful candidates' responses to them. Don't bother learning the answers 'cos I'm sure the questions won't always be the same. Just get your nose out of your book and open your eyes to the world.

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