Why did I get into Cambridge, again?

Can it have been to do with privilege? Please, God – say it ain’t so.

Yoseph Kiflie

Sorry Homerton. You knew this was coming.WIKIMEDIA

Sometime in the last week, (or two weeks ago?? I’m not keeping track – sue me) journalist Julia Hartley-Brewer said during an argument on Twitter (which I encourage you all to check out,  it is absolute gold) that she didn’t go to Oxford because she was privileged, but rather because she was clever. Clearly with strong emphasis on was. The problem here is not whether Julia is clever, or whether she benefited from her privileged background. The problem here is that Julia is being cliché. I mean, what’s new about someone from Oxford feeling the need to assert their intellectual superiority?

Of course, such a thing would never happen at Cambridge and so, for those in need, this article will offer alternative ways to hide your privilege.

For example, DO say, “I didn’t get into Cambridge because I’m privileged; I got in because my college is crap”. This excuse is an especially useful one to use if you were pooled. This is a quality example of downplaying the fact that you are at one of the best universities in the world, by implying that you have it worse than most at Cambridge; a ‘2.2 world problem,’ if you will. Beware though, you need to actually be at a crap college – can’t be using this one at the bigger colleges. (What an embarrassing faux pas!!)

Another excuse you can use is, “I didn’t get into Cambridge because I’m privileged; I got in because I’ve got a talent”. For this one you just need to have a talent that isn’t related to your degree (we can’t be having practical skills now). This one is useful because it means that you are bringing different skills to Cambridge, making the university more well-rounded and arguably even more diverse – because who cares if you’re posh when you can juggle. Of course, this is something that the university considers in the application process, with your interview effectively becoming Britain’s Got Talent if more than one paragraph in your personal statement was non-academic. Hell, you don’t even need to actually have a talent to use this excuse, just make up some injury if people ask to see your talent.

Precisely what I meantLEILA SACKUR

Now who can forget the “I didn’t get into Cambridge because I’m privileged; I got in due to luck” excuse? We all got that friend that aced their interview by having a random and unique shared interest with their interviewer, be it late-twentieth-century concrete architecture, the discography of IceJJfish or MK Dons. While this is not technically privilege, this is still an advantage gained that had nothing to do with work done and thus it will be equated as the same.

I didn’t get into Cambridge because I’m privileged; I got in due to luck

If you don’t want people to hate you, there’s always the classic “I didn’t get into Cambridge because I’m privileged; I got in because of kindness” bullshit. It is widely known that a successfully-coordinated charm offensive is much better than any kind of knowledge. If you give enough back and treat people nicely enough, no one will care that you've got a massive house in London with summer homes in various European countries. Watch as the most wholesome person you know strolls to a first, but they’re so nice that you feel happy for them and believe that they actually deserve it, even more than you.

Of course, such nice thoughts and gestures are frowned upon in society so you can always do the opposite and go for full arrogance: “I didn’t get into Cambridge because of privilege; I got in because of looks”. You look in the mirror and clearly, you’re gorgeous. Why shouldn’t everyone else feel the same? Everyone knows that Cambridge lecturers and supervisors, due to the vow of celibacy taken once they receive their PhD, see everyone as a piece of meat and are ultimately guided by their sexual desires. (I know, who knew people in Cambridge objectified others? Wild.) So it’s not really privilege here, is it? It’s genes. And a healthy dose of objectification, which is horrible.

Finally, there is the timeless,“I didn’t get into Cambridge because I’m privileged. I don’t even know how I even got in at all, because I mean everyone is so much smarter than me and the work is so intense and it’s only like the first week and I’m always struggling but everyone else is doing so well and are going to all their lectures and handing their work on time like I don’t fit at all and I swear I’m going to drop I just can’t take it anymore”. You’re not alone. It will pass.

The dead look behind the eyes and bulletproof vest pictured here is a huge moodUS AIR FORCE

If there is some concluding statement about privilege in Oxbridge to be found in this article, I can’t really be bothered to find it. I guess I could say that everyone has privilege just by being at one of the best universities in the world; but then that is saying that everyone has the same privilege which is not true. But I don’t want people’s privilege to be constantly compared with each other.  Although I do want people to acknowledge their privilege. Basically, the best thing I can say is don’t be a dick? Cool.