In July 2019 I graduated with a first class masters degree in mathematics from Oxford University.
This felt a million miles away when I was applying 5 years ago, I was terrified that everyone was going to look down on me for not being posh, or that I wouldn't be clever enough to handle the workload. Neither of my parents went to university so the entire process felt totally alien to me.
When I got my offer, I was so convinced that I had been let in through a mistake that I didn't ask for any feedback on my application because in looking back through my admissions test (MAT) score and interview performance they'd revoke my offer.
I thought my MAT had gone disastrously badly so if you sit an admissions test don't think that you're beyond being considered for an interview so just do your best and see how it goes. They're designed to be difficult and in my year the average score was 48.4% which is a lot worse than students expecting to get A*A*A like to get in exams.
The biggest thing that the privately educated students get is confidence to apply, I think it's so important for students like yourselves to believe in yourself. I want to tell you all to back yourself because your family background shouldn't stop you from achieving what you want to.
If nothing else whenever you start doubting yourself whether that's during applications, or even when you're at university I want you to remember that there is no Oxford type and that if I, a state school educated, first in the family to go to university, can do well at Oxford then so can you.
I spent a long time not thinking I was good enough to do well in uni and I don't want you to feel the same.