My friend James attended a 2 week summer school at Oxford University last summer. He found it really intellectually fulfilling, and he had a lot of fun too. Studying on-campus at Oxford University is a dream come true for most people. So, I’m going to share James’ experiences, and some tips on how you can also live and study at Oxford University next summer.
How can you live and study at Oxford University next summer?
You can live and study at Oxford University next summer, by attending attending a summer school that allows you to sleep, live and dine in one of Oxford’s prestigious colleges. James attended summer courses at Oxford Royale Academy, which offers the most authentic experience of studying at the premises of University of Oxford in the whole of the UK.
James lived at Balliol College for two weeks, and said he felt like a true student of Oxford University. He ate dinner every night in Balliol’s dining hall, which is apparently pretty amazing, with its vaulted ceilings and stained glass windows. He got access to spaces that only members of the university have, for example, he attended debates at the Sheldonian Theatre, where Oxford University holds its graduation ceremonies.
What is Oxford Royale Academy?
James said he had the best experience of his life at Oxford Royale Academy, so I had to find out more about this unique organisation.
Oxford Royale Academy (ORA) provides summer schools at the world’s highest ranking universities (think: Oxford, Cambridge and Yale) for ages 8-19+.
ORA is unique among summer schools in the UK, in that it offers the most access to the world’s best universities. For example, if you chose an ORA course at the University of Oxford, you wouldn’t just sleep in an Oxford college, you’d dine there every night. ORA also offers the highest number of contact hours with top-quality teachers (forty hours a week).
James couldn’t stop talking about all the friends he made at ORA, from all over the world. He told me he was surprised at how easy it was to make friends, and how great it was that everyone at ORA just wanted to learn, and have a great time. He said that one of the most special things about his course (he chose Business Enterprise) was the huge number of nationalities in his classes. He was able to get an understanding of businesses all over the world, and connect really well with people from other cultures.
When I looked into it, I was amazed to see that, in 2019, ORA had 150 nationalities attending its courses! I was particularly impressed by this, as an international outlook is something that employers are always pushing for these days.
The Oxford University experience
Living in college
One of the best things about attending a summer course at ORA, is the chance to spend a full two weeks or more in Oxford University’s renowned colleges, that tourists are only allowed a glimpse at. As I mentioned, James stayed at Balliol College, but ORA offers accommodation, sleeping and dining in a range of colleges. These include University College (potentially Oxford’s oldest college), Lady Margaret Hall, and The Queen’s College. I’ve always wanted to visit The Queen’s College, so let’s look at what an ORA student could experience living there.
The Queen’s College is one of Oxford’s oldest and most beautiful colleges. As an ORA student there, you’d live and study among in its matchless halls and cloisters. You’d enjoy three meals a day in its impressive and elegant hall, built in the decadent Baroque style. Anytime you wanted, you could walk across a quad which architectural historian Nikolaus Pevsner famously described as, “the grandest piece of classical architecture in Oxford”. You’d sleep and live in the same spaces as Queen’s famous alumni, such as King Henry V (who famously won the Battle of Agincourt), and Tim Berners Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web.
Life in the University of Oxford
Not only will you live in Oxford University’s world-famous colleges, you’ll get access to its exclusive buildings and institutions, which are usually only open to members of the University of Oxford.
You’ll absorb life-changing knowledge in exclusive locations such as Oxford University’s Examination Schools. Like James, if you’re aged 16-19, you’ll get the opportunity to attend talks and debates in the elite Sheldonian Theatre, which was built in1669 as the official, ceremonial hall of the University of Oxford.
The Sheldonian Theatre is a truly extraordinary and stunning neo-classical building. The chance to get inspired by world-famous guest speakers in an institution which was built for the graduation ceremonies of Oxford University students is a once in a lifetime experience.
At the end of James’ course, he attended a grand, black tie ball, which included a delicious three course dinner. ORA design these final dinners to reflect the University of Oxford’s famous and elite Formal Hall, in which grace is said in Latin. As an ORA student, you’ll also have a formal graduation ceremony, where you’ll celebrate your hard work and fantastic achievements.
According to James, ORA accommodation is very comfortable. You’ll sleep in undergraduate rooms at your Oxford college, which are either twin rooms or single rooms. In a twin room, you’ll have a roommate, which is great for making close friends (James is regularly in touch with his ORA roommate, and they’re planning to go again next year!).
If you choose a single room, you’ll have a room to yourself. James’ room included a small closet, a desk, a sink and mirror, two twin-sized beds and a very cool bay window seat, overlooking the college grounds.
All rooms are shared gender, and boys and girls’ dormitories are separated by a corridor or staircase. Bathrooms are ensuite or shared.
I was super impressed by James’ description of his course, and the quality of ORA’s teaching. When I first heard he studied Business Enterprise at a summer school, I assumed it would just involve sitting in a classroom, and learning some extra theory. I was amazed to find out he’d learned all aspects of how to run a business successfully, and had worked on his own business idea (a habit-tracking app).
In the mornings, James was looking at real companies and their business models, and learning about the best solutions to solve business problems. In the afternoon, James attended workshops, where he invented and worked on his own business product. He learned an unbelievable amount about how to launch his own brand and market his app. Before he attended ORA’s summer course at Oxford University, James only had a vague interest in business, and no idea what to study at university. Now, he’s convinced he wants to study business at university. His dream is to become an entrepreneur, or work in a large, multinational company.
I looked at ORA’s range of courses, and there’s quite an amazing variety. You can study everything from Architecture, Acting Performance and Fashion Design, to Computer Science courses such as Artificial Intelligence, IOS Coding and IOS & Web Development.
I’ve always dreamed of becoming a filmmaker, so I looked into ORA’s Film Academy course. Students on the course get to shoot with the latest, innovative equipment in Oxford’s world-famous surroundings, and create their own film!
Perhaps one of the most thrilling things about doing a course at ORA is the chance to discover what you want to do in the future. This is a question which plagues me a lot. I was encouraged when James told me it doesn’t matter if you don’t know what you want to study in the future when you do an ORA course. Living, studying and dining in the world-famous setting of the University of Oxford inspires you to discover who you are, and work out the university course or career you might want to pursue.
One of Oxford Royale Academy’s finest points is the elite and high-quality teaching it offers. ORA’s tutors are of the highest-calibre, and are often Oxbridge tutors, and top industry leaders. ORA teachers provide students with a level of education that surpasses what they’re used to at school.
James said his tutors were extremely distinguished in their fields, and also very kind and supportive. If he didn’t understand something, they found multiple different ways to explain it until he did.
I did my research, and I’m pleased to see that all ORA’s courses offer a wide variety of teaching and learning methods. These include interactive activities, projects, lectures, field trips and many more.
Extracurricular activities and trips
As well as your main course, ORA offers a rich variety of extracurricular and cultural enrichment activities, and trips to exciting and historic places in the UK.
James told me that every day was different, and that he had so many different activities. He went on trips to see the London Eye and Harry Potter World. Some of his ORA friends went to visit Hampton Court Palace, Henry VIII’s incredible Tudor palace, which includes a winding maze and Tudor kitchen (which made 1600 meals a day!).
You’ll also get the chance to visit London’s West End and see its most famous shows, which is one of ORA students’ favourite excursion! With a variety of critically acclaimed performances on offer, you could see everything from Les Miserables and Wicked, to Phantom of the Opera and School of Rock!
Immigration and Visas
Students are responsible for obtaining their own visa before travelling, but Oxford Royale Academy offers assistance if required.
Oxford Royale Academy has a very helpful page describing which visas students from different nationalities require, and how to obtain them.
ORA has a dedicated Pastoral, Social and Activities team, so you never have to worry about your well-being or protection on and off campus. They’ll make sure you’re safe and looked after outside of the classroom, whether you’re playing sports or doing outdoor activities, or going out on exciting excursions. They’ll watch out for you both during the day, and in your dormitories in the evenings and nights.
Who can apply?
The great news is that with ORA, anyone can apply! You can enjoy living and studying on campus at the University of Oxford, as long as you fit ORA’s age-specification requirements for each course.
How to apply
The application process is very easy. You or your parent or guardian should just click ‘Apply’ on the Oxford Royale Academy website. You’ll just fill in a simple form explaining your age and course preferences (it doesn’t matter if you don’t know what course you want to do yet), and Oxford Royale Academy will be in touch shortly.
Arrivals and Departures
ORA offer a wonderful, fully-inclusive coach transfer service, where you’ll be met and greeted at the airport, and delivered safely to your Oxford college.
James said he was treated like a VIP. A lovely member of the ORA team met him at the airport. He then enjoyed a welcome lounge with refreshments, WIFI, charging points and bathrooms, while waiting for his coach to arrive. He travelled by luxury coach and was dropped off directly at his college door.
I’ve now run through the top experiences of attending a summer school at Oxford Royale Academy, and hopefully given you some good advice on applying.
After hearing about James’ experiences, I’ve booked myself onto a course next summer, and I couldn’t be more excited! I hope to see you there.