FAQs

General FAQs Answered by Professor James Basker

Videos of Oxbridge Founder Prof. James Basker  answering the most common questions


About Oxbridge

Accommodations & Facilities, General, Preparations, Safety & Supervision

What distinguishes Oxbridge Academic Programs from other summer study programs?

There are many distinguishing factors between Oxbridge and other programs, but we lay great emphasis on the strength of our teaching and the kinds of students we attract. For many years, we have recruited faculty from Oxford and Cambridge Universities, as well as the best universities in France and Spain, and now New York as well, who are not only eminent in their fields but eminently suited, in terms of character and experience, to teach teenagers. Moreover, we encourage our faculty to use the stimulating and inspiring settings of our programs to fire the imaginations and interests of our students.

This carefully supervised and structured learning environment extends into the students' free time: we ensure that our activities program includes the educational alongside the cultural and social; day trips, field trips, and guest speakers are planned to complement each other so that students can make the most out of their trip to England, France, Spain, New York, UCLA, Boston, or St Andrews.

Above all, our students find that their experiences with us involve, often for the first time in their lives, camaraderie and friendship with other students who are as enterprising, enthusiastic, and able as themselves. With supportive staff and a great peer group, participants often make friends for years to come in an environment which helps develop and expand their cultural, social, and intellectual horizons. 

This sounds great! Can I do more than one program?

Yes, you are free to sign up to our Spring and/or Summer Seminars in New York (grades 9-12) or Oxford (grades 10-12) in addition to one of our longer programs. If you do The Oxford Tradition, The Cambridge Tradition, The Oxford Prep Experience, The Cambridge Prep Experience, La Academia de Barcelona, or l'Académie de France, you can also participate in The Paris Connection immediately after the conclusion of your program. Meanwhile, students in Boston can participate in The New York Connection.

And you are of course welcome to come back for multiple summers. Some of our students have attended as many as four of our programs!

Are parents allowed to visit during the program?

Yes, your parents may visit if they wish. Keep in mind, however, that between class, social activities, and exploring your new surroundings, you will be very busy during your time with us! And we suggest that any family holidays be scheduled either before the start or after the conclusion of the program, so that you can spend as much time as us with possible. 

What is the security like?

Our programs take place on secure, supervised premises. Oxford and Cambridge colleges were originally designed to keep the townsfolk out. Today their "castle-like" walls keep our students completely safe. The continental program residences are also extremely secure, as they are designed to house students year round. Entrances to all residences are supervised round-the-clock by College Porters (in England) and our own staff, who get to know all our students' faces. Many Porters are former police officers or military personnel. The colleges also have CCTV cameras that protect valuable works of art as well as their year-round students.

All students on our high school programs must check-in with the Deans on duty between 10:00 and 11:00 pm. Curfew is at midnight. On our Prep programs, students must check-in once at dinner and again in the evening between 9:00 and 10:00 pm. Curfew is at 11:00 pm.

Check-in means that students must present themselves to a Dean who records their presence, after which they are not permitted to leave the premises. Curfew means that students are in their own rooms, by themselves and quiet. After curfew, the gates are locked but our office remains open for a short while, and some staff patrol the grounds, in addition to (in Oxford and Cambridge) the College Porters. Some of our staff live inside the residences, alongside the students, so our presence remains throughout the night. 

Can I room with a friend from home?
Our policy is that friends do not room together. This is for two reasons: first and foremost, we believe that meeting new people from all over the United States and indeed the world is an incredibly important part of your experience. Students who live with people they already know tend not to be adventurous about meeting new people on our programs, and their experiences are often less rich for it. Second, we have seen quite a few friendships from home dissolve under the strain of living in such close quarters. That said, in nearly all cases we can house you and your friend in the same hallway or staircase so you won't be far away from each other. 
Are boys and girls housed separately?
We house boys and girls in separate hallways, staircases, or floors. The majority of our faculty and staff live in the dorms with the students, so there are adults available to monitor and counsel 24 hours a day. All students must be quiet and in their own rooms as of 11pm on our Prep programs, and by midnight on our high school and continental programs.
Will I be covered under my parents’ medical insurance while abroad?

Please consult your family's medical insurance policy well in advance of the start of the programs to find out if you will be covered or not.

If you are traveling outside your home country in order to attend one of our programs, we strongly urge you to have full medical insurance. Britain, France, and Spain all provide excellent emergency medical care, irrespective of citizenship. Be prepared, however, to pay up front for medical services - and keep your receipts, as many insurers will only reimburse you after the fact. American hospitals also offer outstanding emergency care - but the costs can be extremely high, so it is particularly crucial that you are covered by an insurance policy if you are coming from outside the US to attend a program in Boston, New York, or UCLA. All our programs are within easy reach of medical surgeries and hospitals, should the need for such facilities arise.

What happens if I get sick during the summer?

For minor illnesses, such as a common cold, you will be given permission to miss class and spend the day quietly recuperating in your room. Our team of Deans will then oversee your recovery and cater to your particular needs. In the event of a more serious medical emergency, you would be immediately escorted to a medical surgery or hospital for professional treatment. 

What kind of clothes should I bring? How much luggage can I take with me?

You'll receive a detailed suggested packing list in the weeks leading up to the summer. Clothing in class should be appropriate for an academic environment. You should bring at least one outfit to wear to dances and to the formal Final Banquet.

In addition to your hand luggage, please do not bring more than one other bag/suitcase. Most airlines have a transatlantic limit of 50 lbs (23 kgs). Please check your airline's limit well in advance of flying. Overweight baggage can be heavily fined, and in some instances may be refused altogether. 

Also bear in mind your luggage may be heavier at the end of the summer, what with souvenirs and classwork you want to bring home.

Do I need a laptop computer?

No. While students are permitted to bring a laptop and/or tablet with them, none of our courses requires such a device. And please keep in mind that access to Wi-Fi can be unpredictable and unreliable in ancient University buildings! On all the programs, we provide a number of computers in a student common room, which are available for social media and email.

Can I bring a cell phone, musical instruments, or a pet?

Students may bring cell phones with them, but using them abroad can be extremely expensive - it's easy unwittingly to end up with bills for thousands of dollars. We recommend you sign up to a roaming agreement with your provider in advance of the program. Better yet, consider a cheap pay-as-you-go deal from a local provider when you arrive. 

We prefer that cell phones are used as emergency resources only. For this reason, the use of cell phones is not permitted during program activities, classes, field trips, meals, assemblies, or after lights out. 

Musical instruments can be brought - within reason. Keep in mind that many instruments will be extremely cumbersome and almost impossible to transport. In the past, student bands have formed by renting instruments from local stores, and our residences typically have music practice rooms, some of which have pianos.

Each year, some students ask whether they can bring pets, such as dogs or cats. Sadly, from transportation to vaccination, and from import licenses to accommodation, there are many reasons that it is simply not feasible - so we do not allow pets on the programs.

Are there laundry facilities?

Yes, all our programs have laundry facilities either in or very close to the residences. Whether coin- or card-operated, students can liaise with the Deans to learn where and how to use the machines to launder their clothes.

Do you provide Kosher or Halal food in the dining halls?

We welcome students of all faiths and orientations, and we pride ourselves on accommodating and welcoming everyone! We are able to provide Kosher and Halal meals in dining halls, and we cater to all manner of dietary requirements besides. We warmly encourage you to be in touch with our New York office to let them know about your needs.

Can I miss Saturday morning class to go to religious services?

We strongly discourage missing class on Saturday or any other day for any reason. We ask that you attend religious services outside of class time. If this is impossible for you, please do let us know in advance of the program starting. We will do our utmost to make arrangements with our staff to accommodate your needs.



About Our Programs

Activities, Courses, Requirements

Are all the programs the same?

The structure of each of our programs is similar, but beyond that, our programs differ according to size, physical situation and courses offered.

Of our high school programs, The Oxford Tradition numbers approximately 420 students who, due to the large number, are accommodated in two separate (but centrally-located and close) colleges, Pembroke College and Corpus Christi College.

The Cambridge Tradition numbers about 180 students in Jesus College in the town center, and this is the only college in Cambridge to have its sports facilities (soccer, rugby and hockey fields, cricket pitch, tennis courts), gardens and grounds immediately adjacent to the college. For this reason, it is our largest number of students in a single residence.

Both our programs in England for 8th and 9th graders, The Oxford Prep Experience and The Cambridge Prep Experience, are housed in centrally-located and smaller colleges that are ideal for these programs. Oriel College in Oxford is the oldest royal foundation of all the colleges in Oxford. Peterhouse is the oldest college in Cambridge and located next door to the University's museum of arts and antiquities, the Fitzwilliam Museum. Both programs number about 150 students.

L'Académie de Paris numbers about 175 students and is distinct in scene and style, located in the heart of Paris. L'Académie de France takes between 50 and 70 students and is situated in the historic center of Montpellier. Both French programs are housed in private boarding schools that, just like a college in Oxford or Cambridge, enjoy their own grounds, accommodation, classrooms and general facilities. L'Académie de France is a 100% immersion program, whereas Paris operates on a français d'abord philosophy.

La Academia de España numbers up to 90 students and is housed in the only official Universidad de Salamanca residence located within the old city. The residence features a fully modern interior with a large dining room, a large common area, a central outdoor patio, a library and a game room while the rooms have magnificent views and most include a private bathroom.

La Academia de Barcelona is housed in a residence that accommodates up to 130 students. Located in the upscale residential area of Barcelona known as Les Corts, it includes classrooms and a dining hall, and is air conditioned.

The New York College Experience numbers about 140 students in Barnard College, an extention of Columbia University that sits a short walk away from the Hudson River, Riverside Park and the urban oasis of Central Park. On campus, students can grab a bite in the dining hall, surf the net in the coffee shop and enjoy the university gym or lounge on the lawns or in the 17th floor student lounge overlooking the famous New York skyline. The neighborhood around the college is filled with shops, restaurants, cafes and one of the largest cathedrals in the world.

Another major difference to consider when choosing a program is the variety of courses offered in each location. Each program offers a selection of popular subjects (courses in literature, history, drama, art, etc.) as well as relatively specialized courses for students with particular interests and passions (Physics, International Espionage, Global Medicine or Filmmaking, and so on). Our continental programs offer language classes as well as immersion classes in either French or Spanish.

What are the differences between the cities of Oxford and Cambridge?
Oxford is a larger city than Cambridge, with a population of about 150,000 compared to Cambridge's 110,000. These are quite small populations compared to almost 8 million in London. Oxford has a busier city center than Cambridge and a larger shopping district; Cambridge has a greater concentration of colleges and university buildings in the town center, which gives the city a slightly more relaxed atmosphere and the appearance of being smaller in size. 
What are the differences between the cities of Paris and Montpellier?
Paris, with a population of about 2 million, is the capital of France and is much bigger than Montpellier. With approximately 500,000 residents, Montpellier is the eighth largest city in France. Montpellier is a cosmopolitan city, but has more of a small town feel, whereas Paris is simply 'Paris' -- renowned throughout the world for its history, culture, fashion, food, and shopping. Montpellier has fewer tourists than Paris, and one is less likely to hear English spoken in the streets. While Paris is known for its monuments and museums, Montpellier is renowned for its charming maze of medieval streets, its world-class art museum, as well as its 13th-century Jewish baths—it is at once a delightful provincial town and a cosmopolitan city. 
Can I go to any of these programs if English is my second language?

If English is your second language, please provide your TOEFL score or a short letter from your English teacher confirming your fluency in English. Our programs are conducted primarily in English, and our programs in Oxford and Cambridge are taught exclusively in English. We want to ensure that our students are able to integrate fully and feel comfortable with the program community. In France or Spain, immersion courses are taught exclusively in French or Spanish, but program information, materials and literature are all available in English.

In Oxford and Cambridge, what is a "College"? Is it the same as the "University"?
Oxford and Cambridge Universities are made up of "colleges", in which students are taught, supervised by college fellows, housed and fed. The "University" is the institution that controls the students' academic departments and administers the exams at the end of their degrees. You can think of "colleges" as consisting of student rooms, dining halls, chapels and places of worship, sports fields and student common rooms; the "University" is the institution that runs academic departments and faculties, examination boards and broad university government. By studying on one of our programs in Oxford and Cambridge, students do not become "members" of Oxford or Cambridge University, but they do gain invaluable and fascinating experience of college life in these great centers of learning. 
How far away is London from Oxford and Cambridge? Can I go there while on the program?

London is located about 60 miles south of Cambridge, and about 60 miles east of Oxford. From Oxford to London it takes about an hour by train and between 1 hour 40 minutes to 2 hours by bus; to Cambridge, it also takes about an hour by train and about 2 hours by bus.

We take students in Oxford and Cambridge to London for one day-long field trip. We do not permit students to travel by themselves. They may only leave the program accompanied by a parent or guardian, with prior notice sent to the Director. We also require that these trips be done outside of class time - namely, Saturday afternoons or Sundays. 

Is there a way to attend a program in England and still visit France or Spain?
Yes, if you do The Oxford Tradition, The Cambridge Tradition, The Oxford Prep Experience, or the Cambridge Prep Experience, you can participate in Voici Paris (The Paris Connection) immediately after the conclusion of your program.
I've never studied some of these subjects before. Can I still take them?
Of course! We've designed our curriculum to include a large number of courses that are rarely offered at the high school level, such as International Espionage, Criminology, Zoology, and Social Anthropology, and we don't expect our students to have much, if any, background in these subjects. Even subjects such as English Literature or European History, which are taught at all high schools, will cover material you are unlikely to find at home. You can study an entirely new subject or new material in a traditional subject. Whichever you choose, you'll experience creative teaching in a stimulating, refreshing learning environment. 
I don’t speak French. Can I still go to Paris or Montpellier?

Students wishing to immerse themselves in French language and culture have two options: L'Académie de Paris and L'Académie de France.

L'Académie de Paris offers a wide range of courses for every level of French student – from pure beginners to fluent speakers – as well as a selection of courses in English for those whose primary purpose may not be to perfect their language skills. Whatever their priorities, students come away with a new understanding of their subject matter as well as an expert familiarity with Paris. Our philosophy of français d'abord (French first) makes it a goal for everyone to use as much French as possible both in and out of the classroom, by encouraging students to speak French first when addressing staff members, in the dining hall, during activities and field trips, and when participating in all program events.

L'Académie de France is a complete immersion program, catering to students whose aim is to improve their spoken and written French by communicating exclusively in French throughout their time on the program. Students must have already completed at least two years of French in school to apply, and may sign up for a variety of courses focusing on a wide range of themes (from cinema and cuisine to international relations and medicine), all of which are geared toward improving language skills. All communication, throughout the day – in the residence, in the classroom, during activities, during social hours, during excursions, with guest speakers – takes place in French, and students are expected to speak French every moment of the month. (Staff are bilingual and can communicate with parents in English.) Living this way in Montpellier for four weeks, students come away having had a true immersion experience. All students enrolling in l'Académie de France must provide a writing sample in French, and a letter of recommendation from a French teacher. 

I don’t speak Spanish. Can I still go to Barcelona or Salamanca?

La Academia de Barcelona offers intensive Spanish language at all levels – from pure beginner to advanced and even fluent – as well as a selection of courses in English. Whatever their priorities, students come away with a new understanding of their subject matter as well as an expert familiarity with Barcelona. Our philosophy of español primero makes it a goal for everyone to use as much Spanish as possible both in and out of the classroom, by encouraging students to speak Spanish first when addressing staff members, in the dining hall, during activities and field trips, and when participating in all program events. The hope is to improve everyone's Spanish and to make everyone feel comfortable in a Spanish-speaking environment. Students can also opt to travel to Madrid for five days after the program, in order to extend their language-learning experience in the Spanish capital. 


La Academia de España is a complete immersion program, catering to students whose aim is to improve their spoken and written Spanish by communicating exclusively in Spanish throughout their time on the program. Students must have already completed at least two years of Spanish in school to apply, and may sign up for a variety of courses focusing on a wide range of themes (from cinema and cuisine to international relations and medicine), all of which are geared toward improving language skills. All communication, throughout the day – in the residence, in the classroom, during activities, during social hours, during excursions, with guest speakers – takes place in Spanish, and students are expected to speak Spanish for the duration of the program. (Staff are bilingual and can communicate with parents in English.) Living this way in Salamanca for four weeks, students come away having had a true immersion experience. All students enrolling in La Academia de España must provide a writing sample in Spanish, and a letter of recommendation from a Spanish teacher.

 

Will studying in Paris, Montpellier, Barcelona, or Salamanca be a true immersion experience?

While the continental programs of Paris and Barcelona are open to students regardless of whether they speak French or Spanish, or no language at all, more than half of our students choose to study the local language, either as a Major or Minor course. Furthermore, our number one goal is to work within the context of español primero and français d'abord. For those who have taken three or more years of a language (or who speak it at home), there is the option of taking immersion courses, which are taught entirely in French or Spanish and cover topics of cultural interest (art history, cinema, literature, etc.). Furthermore, students can choose to live on a hall where communication takes place in French or Spanish and to eat at the French Table or Spanish Table during meals. Students can also participate in activities in the local language, such as museum visits, plays, presentations by guest speakers, and movies.

L'Académie de France is a 100% immersion program. Students choose one MAJOR course and one MINOR course, both of which are taught entirely in French. After class, students choose from a selection of workshops and cultural activities, all run in French, that give them more opportunities to practice their language skills in a fun and relaxed setting. Additionally, guest speakers and excursions into the Languedoc region and Provence are arranged throughout the month to promote language fluency. Please note that students need to have completed at least two years of French to apply to l'Académie de France.

La Academia de España is a 100% immersion program. Students choose one MAJOR course and one MINOR course, both of which are taught entirely in Spanish. After class, students choose from a selection of workshops and cultural activities, all run in Spanish, that give them more opportunities to practice their language skills in a fun and relaxed setting. Additionally, guest speakers and excursions throughout the month to promote language fluency. Please note that students need to have completed at least two years of Spanish to apply to La Academia de España. 

Can I do a homestay in France or Spain?
In France and Spain, just as in Oxford, Cambridge, and New York, Oxbridge offers a collegiate residential experience for its students rather than a homestay. The primary reason for this is one of safety and security - having all our students under the same roof with our own staff allows us to have a much stricter control of the environment. Having students dispersed around big cities like Paris, Montpellier, Salamanca and Barcelona would make quality control far too difficult. Furthermore, living together in one residence creates a greater sense of community, emulating the college dormitory environment which goes hand in hand with the intellectual experience our programs provide, and expands the students' cultural experience, allowing them to take full advantage of our activities offerings, as opposed to being hindered by host families' routines and expectations. Given the exceptional improvement in French and Spanish made by our students every summer, we have no reason to believe that the residential experience diminishes language learning (see question above on immersion). 
How much homework is there? Will I have time to do anything else?

You should expect roughly one hour of homework per night for your Major classes, and none for your Minor classes. Drama classes tend to require greater rehearsal time, approximately 4-5 hours a day leading up to the final performance at the end of the program. Film and Journalism classes, which also conclude with a final production or project, also demand extra time. Please note, however, that if your Minor course is running as a Minor only, you may have some homework, which is often set at the students' own request!

No matter what course you take, your work will culminate in an exciting final project that will test your grasp of the course material: the law classes, for example, take part in full-scale moot courts at the end of the summer, complete with "judges" in gowns and wigs; Creative Writing students publish magazines containing their best work; Studio Art, Architecture, and Photography classes mount exhibitions.

Your academic work, however, is not the only thing you do - we have a full (but optional) curriculum of social and cultural activities, including films, lectures, dances, plays, sports events, and tours

Will I get credit for the classes I take?

After the conclusion of the program, you will receive a written evaluation, grade, and a description of the coursework completed for both your Major and Minor classes. We do not issue credit ourselves, but we are happy to issue copies of these gradesheets to your school to help you get credit there. The majority of our students also submit copies of their gradesheets along with their college applications.

In addition to the gradesheets made available upon completion of a program, students are able to request five copies when applying to college. 

What happens after the program?

Shortly after of the program all students and their parents receive a comprehensive set of grade-sheets, presenting their course syllabus and highlighting their specific efforts and contributions during the month. These are accompanied by a letter from the executive director to the student congratulating them on completing the program as well as a letter from the founder of Oxbridge detailing the academic philosophy and structure of cultural enrichment Oxbridge strives for.


The majority of our students also submit copies of their gradesheets along with their college applications.

What kinds of activities and sports are available?

Our students are able to pursue a wide variety of activities and interests. In addition to the field trips (such as Broughton Castle, Stonehenge, Salisbury, Lincoln, and Canterbury Cathedral in England, Versailles, the Château de Vincennes, and Vaux le Vicomte in Paris, St. Guilhem-le-Désert, Avignon, and Nîmes in Montpellier, Girona, Figueres/Empúries, and Montserrat in Barcelona, and Madrid and Segovia in Salamanca), students are offered a range of local activities, which include discussions with eminent guest speakers, concerts, plays, dances, quiz competitions, talent shows, open house poetry readings and coffee socials.

We also offer a wide variety of sports: some favorites include basketball, softball, soccer, cricket, pétanque, swimming and Ultimate Frisbee. Classes in activities such as yoga, salsa and kung fu are sometimes offered. In Oxford and Cambridge, we do our best to make sure that rowers (crew) can get on the River Cam or the Thames at least once during the month.

We make every effort to ensure that our activities programs complement the cultural and intellectual enrichment at the heart of our academic programs. We structure and supervise them carefully to ensure that students get the most out of their time in Europe. 

 

About Our Students

International, Staying in Touch

Where do the students come from?
Our students have come from countries as diverse as Austria, Belgium, Bermuda, Brazil, Columbia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Dominican Republic, England, France, Georgia, Germany, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Monaco, Morocco, the Philippines, Poland, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland, and Turkey - as well as the United States and Canada. The majority (roughly 60%) come from all fifty states in America and Puerto Rico. Over half arrive knowing not a single other student, and about 50% come from public schools. If you're outside of the United States, please visit our page for international students.
How can I stay connected to Oxbridge?

Let us know if your contact information changes so we can get in touch with you in the event we have a reunion.


Keep us updated on how your summer with Oxbridge continues to affect your college experience or career, or let us know if you …publish a book, win a grant, or any of the many other impressive things we know our alumni go on to do—we’d love to include it in our Alumni News and Achievements.

Alumni sometimes serve as Oxbridge Ambassadors, sharing about their experience at our receptions or schools. We also have a limited number of spots every year for alumni to work on the programs or as interns in our New York office.

 

About Dates, Fees, & Details


If I apply, but am not accepted, will I get my deposit back?
Yes. Students are not accepted if their academic or behavioral record suggests very clearly that they will not cope with the standards and policies that we uphold. In cases where this is unclear, references will be approached to clarify the student's suitability. 
Are scholarships available?

We do have a number of full and partial scholarships available for students, based both on demonstrated financial need and academic excellence. For more information on the specific scholarships and the application process, read our Scholarship Pages.

How much spending money will I need?

This really depends on how frugal or extravagant you are in your spending habits in general. Students tend to spend the majority of their money on lunch, but it is definitely possible to eat very cheaply in all of the cities where we are. Our own research has indicated that students tend to spend the equivalent of about $15-30 US per day on average for meals, incidentals and the like. More may be needed for any souvenirs for you and your family.

Please note that meals will prove cheaper if students dine in the residence. We provide breakfast and dinner each day – so one needs only to buy lunch – and, for this reason, we expect all students to eat breakfast and dinner in the residence. The evening meal especially is considered an important part of the collegial atmosphere we create as a program community in an academic environment. Students who regularly spend money unnecessarily to eat dinner out – effectively paying twice, as they have already paid for their residential meals as part of their tuition – can be seen by other students and the faculty as flaunting their financial advantages. For these reasons, we ask that students eat meals in the dining hall or canteen, out of consideration for everyone else on the program.