As a maths student I have dealt with my fair share of limits. I have proved that if f(x) tends to b as x tends to a then g(f(x)) tends to g(b) as x tends to a. I’m 100% serious as well, this is the result of an (awful in my opinion) area of mathematics called analysis, but most of you won’t care at all about my opinions on analysis.
At university you are always pushed to find your limits, by pushing hard you can find what you are actually capable. One thing I have noticed at Oxford is that I feel constantly like I am being pushed to (or over) my limits. During the intense eight weeks terms I often think that I don’t really like working on the very edge of my abilities as it usually results in a lot of stressful hours in the library. However just as quickly as I talk about my dislike for it I realise that I am actually very grateful for this way of working.
I don’t think that Oxford’s way of working suits everyone and I think that Oxford is very good at selecting students who will work very well in their high jam-packed terms. I do believe that this method of working is what helps you in the long run to become significantly better at your chosen subject. By knowing nothing about what is ahead of you, at least in my heavily biased opinions, helps to create better thinkers; if you know nothing about where you should go it makes you think more about what you have already covered to a deeper level.
This is what the interviews at Oxford (and Cambridge) are all about, they don’t care what you already know about your subject (within reason) but more about how you respond to coming across something you don’t know. You can’t simply give up every time you reach the limit of your knowledge because if you did that you’d just be a considerably larger baby who can’t walk or talk. Failure is a natural part of all this. You can’t just expect to go for the correct route every single time.
In all your aspects of life where you want to improve you need to find your limits but then expand them, if you’re staying comfortably within your limits you can’t expect to exceed expectations, all you’re doing is ensuring that you’re doing well at something you already knew you were doing well. A football striker who can pass expertly but can’t shoot will never be a better striker by practising more on passing, they will spend more time at training on shooting.