One of the best ways to learn about the value of these programs is to listen to what the students themselves have to say. Each story below gives a snapshot of the student experience in the Oxford Tutorial Program. All give testimony to the transforming power of a semester or two as a visiting student at the University of Oxford.
I arrived at Regent’s Park College, Oxford, England … six days before my twentieth birthday and two years after the start of my college career. It was a beautiful day and I remember it well. Getting there had been a dream and a journey. I had spent the previous academic year at Georgetown preparing with Dr. Apple and Dr. May. After much help, guidance, and a paper on the French revolution that I considered my greatest achievement thus far, I was finally where I had always wanted to be.
During my first term at Oxford I studied 19th century British history with a tutor from University College. Her office was located down an old corridor, past an ancient statue, up a rickety flight of stairs, through a breeze way and next to the cleaning cupboard. Inside, however, was a scene from Harry Potter. Old wooden bookshelves covered every corner of the room, accompanied by a huge hearth and antique sofas. She always began our tutorials by offering me a cup of tea and asking me how my week had been. We would then begin what I always considered friendly academic debate. I rarely won any of are discussions, but always left with the feeling of immense gain. This type of one on one environment gave me the opportunity to defend my argument to someone who was a specialist and author on the subject. It is a unique academic experience between tutor and student–one that strengthens one’s confidence, as well as one’s intellectual and oral skills.
During this first term, known as Michaelmas term, I also participated in crew. In December I was given the opportunity to compete in the Christ Church regatta, a ‘friendly’ competition between all beginning Oxford college crews. Seven other girls, one male cox, and I would wake up at 0600 three times a week and run down to the river for practice. At Georgetown I was a member of the cross-country team, but being at Oxford gave me the chance to taste the competitiveness of another sport, one well known to the British.
Outside of the Bodleian, the History Faculty Library and the boat house I spent Michaelmas term getting to know students at Regent’s and becoming accustomed to the British way of life. I enjoyed visiting the common room for afternoon brew (commonly know to us Americans as tea), visiting the local Kebab vans for midnight snacks and dressing up in my gown for formal hall every Friday night. …
Before I departed for the United Kingdom a good friend told me ‘this year abroad will change you…you will come back a different person.’ Recounting my year now, I know she was right. As I write this testimony to my year at Oxford I am sitting in a computer lab at University College London. I am getting ready to embark on another journey, a M.Sc. in Social Anthropology. I feel confident in saying that I would not be here if it was not for my year at Oxford. … I was pushed to my outer limits at Oxford, but in the midst of that experience I realized that I could achieve what I thought would be impossible, and in doing so, I created new limits for myself.
As far as my studies were concerned, I consider my time at Oxford one of the best preparations for graduate school that I received. All three of my tutors were not only excellent instructors, but they demanded hard work and diligence with every assignment.
I studied at Regent’s Park during the fall term. Being the only Georgetown student studying in Regent’s at the time, I was very grateful that the other students were so welcoming. The social atmosphere at Regent’s was very communal, and I was happy to get involved whenever I got the chance. Whether it was having a cup of afternoon tea, running to rowing practice at the crack of dawn, or being on the losing side of every football match, I loved every minute of it.
Adapting to the British culture and being able to enjoy the beauty and historical significance of Oxford was very rewarding. … Looking back on my time in Oxford, I feel privileged to have been offered this wonderful learning and social experience.
My experience at Regent’s Park impacted me greatly, both personally and academically. The challenge of finding my way in another country, making new friends and adapting to a different way of study has greatly increased my abilities to learn and perform well in challenging settings. Receiving challenge and encouragement from the best minds in my field pushed me far beyond my expectations. The time I spent wrestling with ideas in the lecture halls, libraries and tutorials at one of the world’s greatest universities helped me to discern my vocation with greater clarity and sense of purpose. I would make the same choice again without hesitation.
A photograph of the students and faculty (and, of course, Regent’s Park College’s mascot, Emmanuel the turtle) hangs in my office at the College of William and Mary—a graphic testament to the continuing significance of my time spent at Regent’s Park. After all, my experience at Oxford shaped, and continues to shape, my scholarly development. The traditional tutorial-based format, in which students meet with their tutors once a week to discuss an essay that the student has written on a prescribed topic, gave me tremendous autonomy to study on my own initiative and without constant supervision—a skill invaluable in graduate school. Furthermore, the access to the impressive collections of Oxford’s Bodleian Library facilitated my studies immensely. Yet not all my education took place in the libraries and classrooms. The cultural opportunities of living abroad broadened my horizons just as much as the academic curriculum. In walking the streets of Oxford, taking the short bus ride to London, or spending a long weekend with a Regent Park student’s family in northern England, I began to appreciate the rich diversity of the world and was able to gain perspective on my own culture and community. Even more, my opportunity to travel through much of western Europe during the month-long Easter break allowed me to see many of the places I had so often studied in history classes, and taste cultures heretofore alien to me. I have a feeling that the Regent’s Park photograph—and the significance of my Oxford experience—will stay with me no matter where my career takes me.
Art History Student
Certainly my experience attending Oxford University was a turning point in my life. Everyone is familiar with the prestigious reputation that the name Oxford University carries with it. However, after a semester studying art history there, Oxford exceeded my expectations!
Can you imagine a library that contains every book written since the 1600’s? Many visitors to Oxford not permitted within the walls of the Bodleian Library, but Georgetown College students are matriculated as visiting students with the University with full library privileges.
As an art history student I did more than just read books and write papers each week. Assignments included: researching primary sources, special access to the Ashmolean Art Museum where I held priceless works of art by William Blake and J.M.W. Turner, and an assignment to study and write essays on certain artwork on display in London galleries and museums. In addition, while I was attending Oxford, I was given the opportunity to meet one-on-one in the London studio of a former president of the Royal Academy of Portrait Painters who gave me advice on my own painting. Lastly, I participated in events, seminars and fieldtrips with the Oxford Art History Society.
The experience of studying as a visiting student at Regent’s Park College of Oxford University was not only an amazing academic experience, it was a fascinating period of personal growth. The experience has given me confidence to tackle personal goals. Interviewers never fail to highlight this global experience on my resume. The art education I received from Georgetown, coupled with the Oxford experience, has led me to start and develop an art business painting murals and portraits for private and commercial clients. Another effect of the Oxford experience is that it developed my research skills that I am currently applying in my second year at Chase College of Law.