Posted: 15th April 2013

Established in the early 11th century, the University of Oxford was the first university of the English speaking world and has remained at the forefront of centres of learning, teaching and research to this day. Here, Eoin O’Leary, who read Economics and Management, gives an insight into life at one of the leading educational institutions in the world.

“Before Transition Year the idea of studying business had never occurred to me, but I took to the business modules that year like a duck to water. Furthermore, I had no intention of applying to Oxford until Mr. Conway (Guidance Counsellor at CWC) marched into a year meeting and announced that his aim was to send people in our year to both Oxford and Cambridge! The next two years were spent working intensely towards that goal and eventually, after a December interview, I was offered a place along with another student in my year

“The best way of describing Oxford is that the lifestyle is typically undergraduate while the work is more typically postgraduate, both in terms of quantity and content. It is high pressure (illness often means repeating a year) but very enjoyable. My degree challenged everything I had already learned about economics and business. I was left wrestling with questions such as “What is work?” and diagnosing the causes of the recent global financial crisis. Unlike most other universities, it operates a collegiate system – students’ study, accommodation and social life is organised around their college, a much smaller community than the university as a whole. In a similar way to Clongowes, you get to know everybody – it is a very tight-knit community. I joined several of the college sports teams which helped me to integrate and get to know students in other years and in other courses. I was also elected to the college student council.  I had three brilliant years.

“Clongowes prepared me extremely well for the lifestyle at Oxford. The gradual trend towards self-directed study as you move up through the school ensured an easy transition to university. Several students on my course found this transition too challenging and dropped out. On a sidenote, my twin brother also found Clongowes very facilitating in pursuing his ambitions. He débuted his first composition at the Summer Concert in 6th year and three years later, his work was being performed on the Main Stage at Electric Picnic by the Trinity Orchestra! 

“Most of the students in my degree went on to begin careers in the city after finishing but this was never my ambition. Instead I have chosen to pursue Management Accounting to further examine what I find most interesting about business – the internal workings of the firm and what makes it profitable. In the longer term, I would like to use this knowledge and experience to set up a business of my own and continue the great Clongownian tradition of entrepreneurship and innovation.”

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