Exeter vs Cardiff

(44 Posts)
TheSacredCow Wed 17-Jan-18 09:08:23

DD trying to choose between Exeter and Cardiff, and we are going to offer holders days soon, which may help to decide.

We are working class and DD will be first from the family to go to Uni. We aren't massively wealthy. DD is concerned that she wouldn't fit in at Exeter, as she has heard the majority of students are privately educated or from wealthy families.

I am worried about Cardiff because it is much lower on the rankings than Exeter, and I have heard it is known for being party central. DD is a quiet, alternative studious girl, loves music, but doesn't like drinking, enjoys socialising but not heavy partying, so may find it difficult to fit in here.

I wonder if anyone has children at Exeter and Cardiff and could give me some insights?

OP’s posts: |
BubblesBuddy Wed 17-Jan-18 10:44:25

No. That is incorrect for Exeter. Even Oxford and Cambridge are nearer to 50/50 these days. Durham and Bristol have quite high numbers of privately educated people but way off 50%.

Exeter is a favoured university for many state educated children and you really should not choose a university based on your family's class. Clearly going to a sought after university rather leaves that classification behind anyway! No wonder we do not have the social mobility we would like if young people choose a university based on class and a perceived inability to mix with others not of your class.

Which course is best? Which university gives her a better chance of the job she wants? Which campus does she prefer? What does she want of her university experience? A larger city or a smaller city like Exeter? She really should ignore who she thinks the other students are, and she is not correct anyway.

I hate this self imposed lowly position where peope think they can only be with their own class! It's a bit like people having to go down the mines, work in factories and never rise up above your station in life. Get over it and go where is best.

TabbyTigger Wed 17-Jan-18 13:26:25

BubblesBuddy to be fair, 50/50 is a pretty poor ratio considering only 7% of the population are privately educated. And if from the working class being surrounded by middle/upper classes can be very intimidating - I spent the whole of my first probably two terms at Oxford (admittedly in the 90s) not wanting to tell anyone about my home just because we didn’t go on foreign holidays or have a car and I’d never been to the theatre or an art gallery. It is intimidating and can be awkward to have to mix with those of a “higher” social class. It certainly made settling in harder for me.

If you’re in the position to visit both again then that’s absolutely fab and will probably tell you more than anyone online can. I’ve heard the same as you about Exeter, but do know perfectly ordinary people (one from a poor part of Cornwall, one from a deprived northern city, both state educated) who have found that it’s no posher than the places some of their friends are (Durham/Bristol/Edinburgh), and seem to both be thriving. I also know someone with a son at Cardiff who describes it as “laddish”.

She’ll ultimately find posh people at both as well as normal people. What she needs to look at this time round is course content, location/campus, available societies and what the social life is like for those who don’t want to go out a lot. Ultimately, I’d let her just go with her gut. Both are fab unis so she’ll do wonderfully wherever she goes!

BubblesBuddy Wed 17-Jan-18 15:42:37

Tabby: I am not defending any ratios but just pointing out that other universities have a worse ratio than Exeter. What people hear and what the truth is are often different. Of course less than 10% of students are privately educated but they tend to apply to certain universities. They are not a plague to be avoided though. They are neither all posh or rich. It’s just prejudice that makes anyone think this and again is not the truth. Perhaps being open minded helps with finding friends?

Oxbridge is known to be the worst of the ratios but I am always interested to know what working class actually means these days. I have a working class background if I go back far enough but because ancestors managed to get educated, they became middle class. Many people have been able to take advantage of a good education and are no longer truly working class. This is why the true working class have become difficult to find at many universities. We all know working class boys are the least likely to do well at school so you wouldn’t expect to see large numbers of them at university.

I think shedding the label is the best way forward and being positive about new friends and experiences is the way to go wherever you study. From the description, Exeter would suit the op’s DD so why rule it out based on chat and prejudice about people you have never met?

TwitterQueen1 Wed 17-Jan-18 15:48:50

Please forget all the class nonsense. Go to the offer holders' days and let your DD decide then. She needs to go with her gut, based on the taster lectures they will get on the day, the campus, the atmosphere and the subject reputation.

Exeter is a beautiful campus - you have to like hills though! I know nothing about Cardiff.

titchy Wed 17-Jan-18 15:55:03

Dd, mediocre comprehensive, loves loves loves Exeter! Mix of friends, some state, some private, some public. It really doesn't matter.

Choose halls sensibly (Holland and Penny C pony club types, Lafrowda party animals) and develop a love for hills....

Valerion Wed 17-Jan-18 15:56:56

FGS what has your class got to do with the University she attends? might as well stay at home then. Go to the best University for the course she is applying for. she should go with an open mind, ready to met new people and embrace all the good life has to offer. Of course if she goes off with a huge chip of inverted snobbery on her shoulder then life will play out just as she thought.


EnormousDormouse Wed 17-Jan-18 15:56:58

I've been a student at both, but neither very recently. I adored Cardiff and still visit the city every year - you get all the benefits of a capital (opera, theatre etc) in a small city and have access to beautiful surroundings. I find Cardiffians very down to earth and friendly and always end up having random chats in shops and at bus stops. At the uni, I met a massive range of people (I'm state school educated and hadn't met anyone from public school before) and it had a great rep for my course.
I did a postgrad at St Luke's, Exeter. Beautiful campus, a smaller city, but I must admit I got annoyed with the amount of braying from some of the student population. Loud!
I would recommend your daughter visits both again and also focuses on the course reputation and content. She will find a friendship group that suit her, that's the beauty of big institutions - you find 'your people'. Not everyone is falling out of bars in Cardiff blush ; there will be some at the arts centres, or having a nice quiet night in smile

Moominmammacat Wed 17-Jan-18 15:57:32

What's the subject? I went to Cardiff and I have a DS at Exeter, who was in Holland Hall. Both lovely places. Don't chose on perceptions of class. If she's clever enough, that's all there is too it.

BubblesBuddy Wed 17-Jan-18 16:05:06

So moomin, is your DC one of the pony club types in Holland? I find all this putting people in disparaging boxes very silly and not remotely helpful. How many young people actually belonged to the pony club at any university? Hardly any. If you do ride and look after a pony at least you know about hard work and dedication! Drunk students are loud whatever their background!

Valerion Wed 17-Jan-18 16:14:57

I did a postgrad at St Luke's, Exeter. Beautiful campus, a smaller city, but I must admit I got annoyed with the amount of braying from some of the student population. Loud!

I assume you refer to the public school crowd. Is everyone else quiet? Was all the noise on campus caused by private school kids hmm or was it the usual nonsensical yah yah! that annoyed you?

Its a miracle how overseas students cope!

titchy Wed 17-Jan-18 16:27:32

Rent at Holland approaches £8k a year - that makes it pretty self-selecting in terms of background!

I do agree with bubbles though - people find their own tribe and it would be silly to go with preconceived ideas about who is nice to mix with and who should be avoided.

EnormousDormouse Wed 17-Jan-18 16:29:40

I didn't get to know everyone's background, Valerion, but you may be correct. But I've studied at Cardiff, UWE and Bath as well as Exeter, and I'd never known braying like it grin

TabbyTigger Wed 17-Jan-18 16:40:25

Bubbles I totally understand that class shouldn’t matter socially, and I was open minded enough to make friends with a variety of people, but it undoubtedly made it more of a struggle, purely because the things people in my social circle at home found normal were not that same as those in my social circle at university. We were culturally (as well as financially) working class - I always remember a boy looking at me like it was absolutely crazy that I’d never been to an art gallery. And the hobbies were something else I found very different - I had never been abroad or had the opportunity to learn an instrument or sports like hockey/cricket/horse riding. At our school boys played football and girls played netball and that was that! It was often difficult to hear people discuss things I just couldn’t understand or relate to. I thought their lives were exotic - to me, living in a house, playing the flute/hockey, going on holiday to France/Spain was so sophisticated! Now I move among a more middle class circle I realise it’s not that crazy and in fact probably up to half the population lives like this.

Alisvolatpropiis Wed 17-Jan-18 16:55:59

It is worth visiting both in real life.

Cardiff is a very compact city, so the night life is all in one spot, essentially. Rather than being a big party town generally speaking.

That is the plus of Cardiff in general, from halls your daughter could walk to pretty much everywhere she would want to go in the city. If she is quieter then having a look at the Chapter Arts Centre in Canton (inner city area) whilst visiting. Cardiff Uni has an abundance of clubs (as do most uni’s I presume, but these are all pretty active).

BubblesBuddy Wed 17-Jan-18 16:59:54

Hockey? Exotic? Since when? You must have had summer sport at school?

Joking aside, I do understand what you are saying as someone who came from a poor as a church mouse family, but you can easily go to free galleries if you want to. Plenty of museums and galleries in Oxford. Reading widely helps with knowledge too. I think you can also bond with people doing your subject and, seriously, Exeter is full of ordinary students!

Where DD went to university the downtrodden halls had the private school students in them. Glossy halls are not all taken by the rich but from the middle classes whose children cannot exist without an en suite and every mod con. Parents on fairly moderate incomes scrimp and save for these and many overseas students like them. How often do you read on MN that students want standards they have at home? Often the very rich do not slash out on high end residences! Certainly ex boarders don’t care. They are used to sharing and mixing.

Malbecfan Wed 17-Jan-18 17:23:29

I haven't studied at either but DH has taught at Exeter. It depends massively on what course your DD is doing. The music scene in Exeter is not great. They shut their Music department several years ago and pay lip service to Music now - I know a number of the "expert instrumentalists" they claim to employ and my description would be somewhat different. Exeter has massive aspirations to be "like Warwick". It isn't - Warwick teaches Chemistry & Music, 2 subjects Exeter dispensed with years ago!

The city itself is quite bland and choked with traffic because they have built loads of houses in the last 20 years and done sod-all about the infrastructure. There are expensive buses in the city but those of us who live outside it with no public transport have no alternative but to use the car. The university campus is about a mile from the centre up a hill. Everything is hilly but the campus is lovely. Loads of the city is being turned over to private student accommodation, which is pricing local young families out of the area and there are pockets of simmering resentment (e.g. Newtown, not far from St Lukes).

On the positive side, it is near the sea and there is fabulous countryside nearby. Definitely come and visit and see for yourself.

Moominmammacat Wed 17-Jan-18 17:42:41

No ponies here, state school through and through. Ponies not allowed in comprehensives.

Moominmammacat Wed 17-Jan-18 17:45:51

Music taught at Warwick? Exeter had music scholarships in my DC's first year, now gone ....

Namechanger5555 Wed 17-Jan-18 17:50:33

In a seminar at Exeter University we briefly discussed what we did over the summer as an ice breaker. I was the only one who had worked over the summer. In a call centre.
Every single other person had been on an internship in daddy's firm or similar.

I loved the city and the locals of the city. I wasn't aware of its reputation when I applied and didn't notice when I looked around. I was very unhappy when I went there and it has held me back throughout the rest of my life.

Definitely worth being aware of whether you will fit in.

SluttyButty Wed 17-Jan-18 19:00:26

My dd has had an offer from Exeter for Law for this year. She goes to a state school in the Cotswolds and would rather avoid getting caught up in the ‘country casuals’ set as he calls it and she really liked Exeter. It’s not her first choice but it’s a serious consideration should her first not come through.

BubblesBuddy Wed 17-Jan-18 19:35:35

I think these days when students are unhappy they start again elsewhere. It doesn’t have to ruin your life namechanger.

It really is not the case that everyone will have done internships over the summer! You were obviously unlucky and you appear to be jealous. What does it matter to you if students had done internships after A levels? It is what you do on the course that matters. You too can apply for internships.

Agyne Wed 17-Jan-18 19:44:02

Both great cities to be a student in but Exeter is a better uni imo.

jeanne16 Wed 17-Jan-18 19:55:32

My DS is at Cambridge and went to a London private school. He says he has no idea what type of school any of his new Cambridge friends attended. He says no one cares and it has never occurred to him to ask. There are a lot of myths around how important this all is.

Namechanger5555 Wed 17-Jan-18 20:24:23

Few years too late but thanks Buddy I certainly was/am jealous. Had never even heard of those kind of opportunities and didn't have the right connections or speaking voice and confidence to be successful in the opportunities I did go for.

It was certainly a case of not fitting in and having very little in common with people around me and the OPs daughter is right to be mindful of that. Not to say she shouldn't go however.

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