Wesley Zhang Haogang
University of Oxford
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My university application journey
To be honest I never really thought about what to after JC before I took my A Levels. Law was really something I stumbled upon and it was only after receiving an offer to do law that I dug deeper and found out how interesting the subject can be. I guess it's important to keep an open mind and explore the range of possibilities!
how you decided upon this course / this university
- I decided to apply to the UK as I was reading up on the basics on the subject. Most, if not all of what I was reading was the English common law, which gave me the idea to apply to the UK and to study law where the common law was developed. Oxford attracted me in particular because of its unique tutorial system (often 1 tutor to 2 or 3 students in a tutorial!) and relative academic freedom in approaching the different aspects of the subject.
the challenges you went through during application
- I think the first challenge was to understand what the application system consisted of. I was relatively late in joining the process and applied only in my second year of NS, so was quite out of touch with what the system consisted of exactly. In short, it was an application through UCAS which required my grades, my tutor's reference, and my personal statement. I also had to take the LNAT.
- It was then a case of approaching each element of the application and figuring out how to put forth the best application forward and to prepare for the LNAT.
- The toughest bit of the application process had to be the waiting!
any other info that you think is interesting for your juniors
- If you are thinking about law, try reading up on some introductory books - I highly recommend "What About Law" but Barnard and O'Sullivan!
- The approach to essays and framing arguments in GP was quite helpful in tackling the LNAT essay and also beyond.
Life after NYJC
The workload was intense - it usually consisted of three tutorials every two weeks, each one covering an entirely new topic and each one requiring an essay. Tutorials were in small groups like I mentioned above which meant there was nowhere to hide, and you have to engage in discussion with the tutor, who is an expert, after doing your own reading on the topic. You'll have to delve in and read up before the tutorial, which is quite new, and often the tutorials serve to consolidate and clarify rather than lead you through the topic. Similarly, lectures mostly aimed to give you an introductory/high level overview rather than give you the detailed knowledge for exams, which you were required to read up on your own.
- Fortunately tutors understand how stressful it can be and most of them are nice enough to answer any questions, clarify your misunderstandings, and to ensure that you understand the subject. You'll also quickly discover which bits of your subject that you enjoy and which bits you don't, so some weeks are much easier than others!
- Exams for humanities and social sciences in Oxford ('Finals') are held at the end of your degree over a couple of weeks, and can be gruelling. The joy you get from finishing them can be immense though! I graduated in 2019. I enjoyed my time in university and would be glad to share my experience! Please don't hesitate to shoot me any questions you may have.
There are countless societies, clubs, and teams for you to enjoy and there is a space for everybody. I participated in lots of things from the Singaporean society to a dance team, I attended talks by world-reknowned figures (Stephen Hawking, Lady Hale, Anna Faris...etc), travelled... It was nice to have things to do other than work! I would say that any interest you have you could explore in Oxford, and if there isn't an existing space for your niche, you could always found your own.
My Future Plans
I am preparing to commence training as a trainee solicitor at a law firm in London, and am undergoing a practice course as the precursor to the training contract. My firm is an international firm headquartered in London and I'll be rotating through four departments over two years as a trainee.
Tips for Juniors