From education to employment

Talented teen physicist bags spot at Oxford with 4 A*s

A budding teen physicist from Pontypridd is celebrating securing his place at the University of Oxford after bagging A*s across the board in his A levels.

Coleg y Cymoedd learner, Jacob Jones, 18, has received four A*s in physics, maths, further maths and chemistry, confirming his place to study physics at Oxford’s Jesus College in September.

Despite having always been academic, the star learner didn’t think that he was ‘Oxford worthy’ until he received outstanding grades in his AS levels, making him think that applying was worth a shot.

Determined to get his place at Oxford, Jacob spent last summer building up his personal statement by attending two four-day residential summer schools – one research focused programme at University College London (UCL) and another more hands-on scheme at Oxford, where he lived on site and attended lecturers like a an undergraduate. The experience confirmed to him that he wanted to go to the world-leading university.

Jacob was part of the Seren programme while at college – a Welsh Government funded scheme aimed at supporting Wales’ brightest state school learners, regardless of their background or financial situation, to achieve their academic potential.

Through Seren, he received guidance on how to draft a personal statement for top universities, got insights into what it would be like to study at Oxford from current students at the university, and had tailored support to help him prepare for his physics university admissions test.

He said: “Although I got good grades in my GCSEs, I hadn’t thought about going to Oxford before. It’s got such a high reputation so I didn’t think I would be good enough to go there. After getting my AS results though, I started to reconsider and my tutors at college reassured me that I was more than capable. They encouraged me to apply and I thought it was worth a shot.

“Getting a place on Oxford’s UNIQ summer school further boosted my confidence and I enjoyed it so much that it made me realise that it was exactly where I wanted to be.

“I worked so hard to prepare for my interview and admissions test and the support I had from my college and the Seren programme really helped make a difference. I still couldn’t believe it when I got my place though as I had struggled with one of the exam questions and I’d lost hope after that.

“I’m now so excited to start university now. I picked Jesus College because it’s known as the ‘Welsh college’ – moving to Oxford will be a big change but hopefully being there will provide a sense of home.”

Jacob has always had had a flair for maths and physics, a passion ignited by watching a video on calculus at a young age. He remembers being mesmerised by the topic and hasn’t looked back since.

Looking ahead, Jacob is open-minded about what his future career holds but is interested in doing something related to quantum physics.

He added: “I want to learn everything there is to learn about the subject. I hope to get my Masters and eventually a PhD, and then maybe go into a research-based role.”

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