The students who 'made it' share their experiences with Steve Hook

JOANNE MCNALLY, 19, from Keble College, Oxford, said: "I live in Somerset and came here from The Taunton School, a private school, with grade A in A-level maths and Bs in English, chemistry and physics.

"I'm the only one of my family to go to Oxford and it was a little different to how I expected it to be. "You don't have to work quite as hard as I imagined. If you want to work 10 hours a day then you'll get the rewards for all the extra effort you put in.

"But I would say you could do as little as two hours a day and that would be enough to pass.

"One of the benefits about being here is that I have found plenty of people who share my interests.

"I'm a fan of Winnie the Pooh and I like jazz a lot. There are plenty of societies for people with specific interests. I'm in the Pooh Stick Society.

"I'm reading maths and philosophy and I'm going to be looking for a job in finance or consultancy."

BEN JOHNSON, 19, from Birmingham, attended sixth form at Culcheth College near Warrington, Cheshire, before being accepted at Birmingham University.He said:

"I live in Warrington and my impression of Birmingham was that it was grey and full of traffic, which isn't entirely true.

"When I came to have a look around I liked what I saw. The campus is nice and green and open although it's fair enough to say that being into eating a lot of Baltis is a prerequisite of being a student at Birmingham.

"I got a B in English literature, a C in French, a D in theatre studies and an A in general studies.

"I wanted to do a politics-based course so that's why I chose to read public policy. I think it's the sort of subject which would be suitable for a range of areas, such as politics and journalism, although it's really the subject itself I'm interested in. I haven't decided what to do with it.

"I have discovered that people are right when they say the first year at university is easier than studying for A-levels. The work is challenging but not stressful. We have 12 hours of tuition a week and I'd say we go clubbing two or three nights a week.

"It's a good place for a night out."

SIMON FROGGATT, 20, of Sheffield, has given his music business career a boost by signing up for a degree course at LIPA, the Liverpool Institute of the Performing Arts.

He is studying for a performance arts management degree.

He got in with A-level sports studies grade C and English grade D, gained at a comprehensive school outside Sheffield.

He said: "They look at you as a whole person rather than just what you look like on paper according to exam results.

"I'm hoping to work for a record label or something like that and the opportunity I have to learn about the business at LIPA is unique.

"I have been representing a couple of unsigned bands as a manager and there's one session musician who I manage, which bring in some money.

"But at LIPA I'm learning a lot about the needs of other people, like sound technicians, which gives me a better understanding of things.

"Also, it's giving me an appreciation of other aspects of the arts, like theatre."

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