Dear prospective applicants,
If you are reading this letter, you are probably about to make a decision with far-reaching consequences. However daunting this prospect may seem, the first piece of good news is that no matter what your final choice may be, you will be fine. The ambition and drive to self-develop is often more important than the exact path that one has taken. The other piece of good news is that one of your current options is applying to Lincoln College, Oxford, and to a Berrow Foundation scholarship.
Previous writers of Lincoln Letters have already described some of the aspects that make Oxford such an unique environment: world-class Fellows and researchers, an incredible range of academic events on offer, and an extra-curricular life as much, if not more, exciting than the degree itself. I can only second all these points.
However, I would like to emphasize two additional aspects that I consider of particular importance. First, the people you will meet and the network you will build. The Oxford graduate community is extremely diverse and international. At any given event you will meet interested and interesting students from a wide variety of academic and personal backgrounds. In no time at all, you will find yourself engaged in captivating discussions with lasting philosophical impact. The friends you will make here will make you feel at home all over the globe and rumor has it that many of them will end up in the world’s most influential institutions in the years to come.
Second, the support you will receive from the college. The collegiate system provides a dual system of affiliation and supervision. While department supervisors look after your thesis and study progression, colleges keep a close eye on your overall academic progress and professional development. I myself had what we could call a rocky start, but it was made very clear to me that Lincoln College would not let me down and would not hesitate to use all the means at its disposal to ensure the best possible study environment. They meant it very seriously and helped me a great deal when I needed it most.
Now that we have covered why you should definitely come, let’s also reflect about why we should also all eventually leave. Oxford is a bubble. A golden bubble with worldwide influence, yes, but still a bubble where time seems to have a different effect. The Oxonian reality is not Britain’s reality, let alone Europe’s. The university is a protected environment with bright, engaged and to some extend like-minded people. As nice as it may sound, some important life skills are hard to acquire in these circumstances. Moreover, I am personally convinced that the real value of higher education abroad is when acquired experience and knowledge make an impact beyond the university’s walls and transcends borders. In short, the value of studying at Oxford is only fully realized when you actually leave it and bring back, wherever home is for you, lasting memories of this academic exoticism.
To conclude, please allow me an architectural metaphor. Studying at Oxford is like an old college main site. It looks out of a different time from the outside, is relatively complicated to get in, is beautiful and quite unique when you made it inside, and at some point you will almost inevitably wish to leave because, after all, it is relatively small compared to the vast exciting world waiting outside.
Looking forwards to meeting some of you in a near future!
Lincoln College, Oxford - Michaelmas Term 2019
Baptiste is reading for a DPhil in Surgical Sciences