Oxford Honors Program a Dream Come True
Submitted on October 16, 2020
For senior Brynn Sandquist, the Oxford Honors Program represented the opportunity of a lifetime. After all, who doesn’t want to study at one of the most prestigious institutions (let’s be honest, the most prestigious) in the world? For so many students, Oxford University exists only in dreams and in fairy tales, quite literally for fans of Harry Potter, which used Oxford as a filming location. It exists beyond what could be envisioned possible. At least until Georgetown College enters the picture.
Georgetown College’s Oxford Honors Program allows students the opportunity to study for a semester at Oxford University, where they enjoy all the benefits of a visiting student, including full access to all academic services and extracurricular activities. Students admitted to the program prepare for their semester abroad during their time at GC before eventually travelling to Oxford, England during their junior or senior year.
According to Sandquist, the possibility of studying at Oxford University intrigued her early in her college search. “I first heard about the Oxford Honors Program as a freshman in high school when I was exploring college possibilities for the first time,” said Sandquist. “I knew I wanted to go to a small school, and I knew I wanted to study abroad, so the Oxford Honors Program seemed like the perfect fit. From that moment on, I latched onto that goal with almost unexplainable passion and worked hard to make the grades and test scores to get into the program.”
That passion fueled her from that point on. Oxford University was the dream, and she worked incredibly hard to eventually be admitted into the program at Georgetown College. Once in college, Sandquist found the coursework specifically tailored to helping students succeed during their time at Oxford. “The Oxford Honors Program, in general, requires students to take several specific classes during their freshman year to develop the skills necessary for a term at Oxford,” she said. “Dr. Hadaway, who directs the program, teaches a class in the spring where students write their first tutorial essays, which is the style used by Oxford colleges.”
The method of instruction used in the program, along with the dedication of faculty, staff, and students, shows where it matters, in the results. In all the time that Georgetown College students have been studying at Oxford University, one important aspect of their experience stands out, even if it isn’t all that surprising: student success. Students from Georgetown College studying at Oxford University as part of the Oxford Honors Program have never received a grade lower than the equivalent of a B- overall during their semester of study, and, most impressively, 83% of students have received the equivalent of an A during their time at Oxford.
The dedication, curiosity, and commitment to excellence shown by students at Georgetown College is unmatched, and the program is designed to fully prepare students for the rigors of studying at the best university in the world. “The Oxford Honors Program is constructed in such a way that students often feel overprepared when they get to Oxford,” said Sandquist. “Freshman through sophomore year at Georgetown takes Oxford students through rigorous classes, seminars, and workshops to prepare you for the application at the very end of sophomore year.”
Sandquist’s dream of studying at Oxford University would become a reality during her junior year. During her time overseas she felt “like a kid in a candy shop.” She found the experience of interacting with people, from not just Britain but from all over the world, exhilarating. “Everything was new and exciting and honestly, famous. Around every corner is a plaque or statue or memorial or building of great importance. In other words, Oxford, and just England in general, is a history major’s heaven. Oftentimes, I found myself walking through Oxford and pinching myself to make sure I was awake. Living in England gave me a renewed zest for life and adventure.”
Of course, she grew exponentially as a student during her study at the best university in the world. This growth, though, was not limited to just her time at Oxford, truly beginning in the preparation for her time overseas. “Preparing for Oxford at GC and taking two tutorials at Oxford exponentially developed my reading, thinking, speaking, and writing,” said Sandquist. “Oxford Honors takes already thoughtful and driven people to a much deeper level of both characteristics. Some of the most thought-provoking and intelligent conversations I have ever had occurred with fellow Oxford students. I am excited to bring those skills to further schooling, jobs, and even my family.”
Now a senior at GC, reflecting back on her time at Oxford and looking forward to the next phase of life, Sandquist knows her time at Oxford will prove invaluable moving forward, and she will always have the memories and relationships formed thanks to the program. “I do not have the words to describe how much more meaningful the presence of my friends and fellow students in the program made my Oxford experience. Through experiencing such a profound shared goal that we all worked so hard for, we grew even closer, and I know we will be reminiscing on those weeks for the rest of our lives.”
Each year, a new class enters into the Oxford Honors Program at Georgetown College. Asked if she has any advice for future applicants, Sandquist tells them not to hesitate. “Don’t let the intimidating prestige of Oxford prevent you from applying! I hear a lot of students say ‘I just don’t think I can do it.’ No one who is accepted into the program for their freshman year is ready for the Oxford experience. In all honesty, I didn’t feel ready as a junior when I got on a plane bound for London. However, if you are passionate about what you are studying, motivated by a challenge, and eager to grow in your ability to read, write, and argue analytically then Oxford will feel like home.”
For so many, including Sandquist, Oxford University started as a dream, but thanks to the Oxford Honors Program, that dream became a reality. “Dreams coming true is far less romantic than movies suggest—I was stretched mentally, physically, and emotionally, in ways previously unfamiliar, but stepping off that bus in Oxford was the closest thing to magical I have ever experienced. That moment made me so excited for all the dreams I will dream in the coming decades of my life because now I know what it takes to achieve them.”