Term is over. Cars stuffed with double duvets for single beds, full-length mirrors and boxes upon boxes of fancy dress deemed by all back home as excessive (they just don’t understand) have long since made the trek back home. It’s Quality Street and box sets agogo from hereon in.

But wait. “What’s that sound?” I hear you cry. That, reader, is the sound of whimpering en masse. For at the end of Michaelmas our rooms are not filled with conference guests wondering why the hell the company couldn’t shell out for the Hilton, but teeny tiny Sixth Formers quaking in their plimsolls. For them ‘tis the season to shape the course of their future. It is to them that we must spare a thought. Do they know it’s Christmas time at all?

Having now experienced the mental boot camp from both sides of the barbed wire, I have taken it upon myself to collate a by-no-means definitive list of survival tips for our prospective college family descendants. Here goes:

  • Boys – don’t dress overly smartly. This is a sure-fire tell that you are very posh or very not and makes you stick out like a sore (albeit immaculately dressed) thumb. Even those of us who don’t know our Georgio Armani from our George at Asda from looking will be able to tell which you are from the moment you open your gob.
  • Similarly, depending on whether you’re at a Christ Church or a Wadham, don’t follow suit and play yourself up or down. No-one wants to know which house Daddy jetted you off to to give you your Virgin Galactic ticketsand no-one wants to hear about the time your foster parent saved up to give you a piece of coal and a satsuma for your combined birthday-Christmas. Exaggeration makes people want to kill you.
  • Do make friends. In retrospect, bonds formed at interviews may have more in common with Chilean miners than BFFs but they’re a pleasant distraction at least. Also, on the off-chance you all get in, it makes Freshers Week that wee bit less awkward.
  • Don’t make ‘special’ friends – on the off-chance you both get in, it makes Freshers Week that wee bit more awkward.
  • Don’t mention the stonking great elephant in the room that is A Levels; there’ll always be one bright spark who’ll make you feel worse about yourself. If there wasn’t, it was probably you. And everyone wanted you dead.
  • Don’t try and talk the Oxford jargon. You get your Twat Licence when you get your offer, never before.
  • Don’t make the older years feel old. This year, upon compiling a Music Intros quiz for the applicants’ daily organised fun, the question “Will they even know who the Spice Girls are?” made me single-tear.

This is just a selection of the many, many tidbits these poor babies will need to take into account for their interview period to feel less Gaza, more Maga and I haven’t even begun to touch on what to do in the interviews themselves (blow jobs and cash are probably the two safest methods). Please feel free to add your own pointers; together we can make a pamphlet to be given to all interviewees upon arrival along with their Ethernet cable and indecipherable college map.

Anyhoo, let’s just be thankful that the recent suggestions to make the admissions system “a bit more Battle Royale” didn’t get past the proctors. 

Applicants: may the odds be ever in your favour.