What are the best Oxford Colleges?

(56 Posts)
brentlondon Tue 27-Feb-18 08:28:57

Does it really make much difference where one gets accepted?

Do the “best” colleges get the strongest applicants/brightest/most able?

OP’s posts: |
PaperdollCartoon Tue 27-Feb-18 08:32:10

They’re very different styles and will suit different people, it’s not a case of better or worse. Everyone at Oxford is the brightest and most able, so it’s a bit silly to try and divide them like that.

Would the prospective student prefer a bigger or smaller college? Will they like a more sporty, party college or a quieter one with more pastoral care. These are things to think about.

ElenaBothari Tue 27-Feb-18 08:32:11

Not really, The colleges are much of a muchness.

Some are stronger in particular subjects, but even then the difference is pretty marginal.

You can check the norrington league for academic results - and you will see that some colleges tend to be nearer the top and others nearer the bottom but these things do change over the time.

Just apply where you think you’ll be happy.

HingleMcCringleberry Tue 27-Feb-18 12:46:40

It does make a bit of difference where you get accepted - but not in an academic sense. Paperdoll has it spot on in terms of the elements of the college that are going to have an impact on your experience.

horsemadmom Tue 27-Feb-18 13:18:22

The best College is the one that gives your DC an offer.
Almost everyone ends up loving their College even if they weren't a direct applicant. DD has a friend who applied to a big, pretty, old one and ended up in a small, modern/ugly, new one and was really disappointed (yeah, poor lambkins<sarcasm>). Loved it by the end of freshers. Two years in, she is actually enjoying being taught parts of her subject at other Colleges and has a wider friendship group than she probably would have had at a big College where more stuff is 'in house'.

goodbyestranger Tue 27-Feb-18 16:51:16

'Best' obviously begs the question.

Yes there are colleges which are far better known than others but even in the biggest name colleges you never know when a key tutor in your subject might be on sabbatical or move to another university in which case you might be unlucky and get really quite dull/ poor teaching. You just have to take pot luck, because nothing on that score is ever more or less certain regardless of college.

There are certainly 'better' colleges in terms of aesthetics and grounds and location I don't think anyone could quarrel with that. There are also colleges with better accommodation than others.

On the Norrington table front colleges can shoot up or down the table, besides which there may be more academic pressure to succeed in a college which has slumped in any given year than in the ones at the top, with the obvious exception of the college which is almost always near or at the top but where the downside is its well rehearsed reputation for being the college where fun goes to die. But if you hate fun then hey - it might be the very best fit.

I also think knowing when a major building programme is about to start or finish can add to the quality of undergraduate life. Prolonged major excavations and shifting rooms partway through the year can be a bit of a pain.

doglover Tue 27-Feb-18 17:51:52

My dd is in her first year at Merton College studying English. She applied to it based on the fact that it was old, central, guaranteed accommodation and was medium-sized! Of her friendship group, some applied to Merton and others were allocated it ..... all love it! Within every college will be quiet, studious types, sporty types, party animals and everything in between. They work hard and play hard and know how fortunate they are to be studying at such a world-renowned institution.

We never dreamt that our dd would be at Oxford but I would definitely encourage any student who has the ability to apply. If granted an interview, they may just have their potential spotted ...........


peteneras Tue 27-Feb-18 18:18:01

"Everyone at Oxford is the brightest and most able. . ."

Huh . . . Really?

Tell that to your grandmother - she might believe you!

Needmoresleep Tue 27-Feb-18 19:23:27


Dustylaw Tue 27-Feb-18 21:26:26

I suggest relax a bit on that comment. It certainly is true to say that ‘everyone’ at Oxford is from the category of brightest and most able. Of course there are students in that category who are at other universities. If you are interested enough you can look up Unistats. Yes, there may be the odd one or two who make you think how on earth did they get in but they probably still got the academic grades to place them in that top academic category. It’s (even) harder to get into Oxbridge these days or indeed its close rivals so well done to them.

HermanMerman Tue 27-Feb-18 21:44:51

Peteneras, but presumably Eton is full of them? Sour grapes much?

peteneras Tue 27-Feb-18 21:57:38

Just so that you know the difference HermanMermam, Eton is not a university. That's Oxford's brilliance for you, folks!

HermanMerman Tue 27-Feb-18 22:06:35

Point out where I said it was?

Hermanmerman Tue 27-Feb-18 22:09:14

Sorry, name change fail! Comment still stands - where did I say Eton is a university? I just thought you would bleat on as usual about how it’s the best school ever and nowhere else comes close, whilst Oxford is a shithole full of dim people

Needmoresleep Wed 28-Feb-18 07:57:58

Come now Hermann, Peternas was picking up on your comment:

"Everyone at Oxford is the brightest and most able. . ."

What school his DS went to is irrelevant.

To be honest, you sound like my MIL, who is still dealing with the fact that her grandneice is at Oxford whilst her Grandchildren are studying elsewhere. A large number apply to Oxbridge. A smallish proportion are brilliant. Quite a lot are "good enough" of whom some will be selected because they have better historic grades, perform well at interview, or score better on the criteria being used by Oxbridge. Others will go elsewhere, including some who received an Oxbridge offer. Some will then thrive in teritiary education, others will get distracted or fail to make the step up. Selection is an imprecise science and I dont think it helps to take a dogmatic view of the status of different institutions.

Hermanmerman Wed 28-Feb-18 08:04:09

Clearly there’s no sense of humour on this board, I was just laughing at the fact that Peteneras was disparaging Oxford whilst always raving about Eton! Clearly the Eton students who get into Oxford are not the brightest and the best!

Hermanmerman Wed 28-Feb-18 08:11:57

And it wasn’t me who made the comment so don’t misquote me.

Needmoresleep Wed 28-Feb-18 08:20:28

Hmmm you dont need a sense of humour to query an assertion that Oxbridge selects the brightest and most able.

Lots of very able kids wont be offered places. It is important that they do not see this as a sign of being less bright or able, but as a chance to take a different and perhaps more interesting path. Peternas is probably in a good position to see this. Many of his DCs peers will have gone to Oxbridge. Others will have gone elsewhere, often after applying to Oxbridge. Roll on a few years and there is probably not a great difference in outcome. (Certainly that is true in our experience.) Indeed the less sheltered learning environments elsewhere may well have suited some of the able and motivated. I dont think it helps for an Oxford UG to believe they are one of the brightest and most able. They still have a lot to prove. And it can be very hard for those who take "rejection" hard. Better perhaps to acknowledge the lottery element, and also celebrate the extraordinary strenght in depth of our university sector.

HingleMcCringleberry Wed 28-Feb-18 13:10:34

Are you OK peteneras? You seem quite disgruntled about a relatively innocuous subject. Is there anything you want to talk about? Things at home good? Work alright?

brentlondon Wed 28-Feb-18 15:24:05

Whoops! Sorry I didn't mean to cause an argument. There must be something from other threads that I've missed.

Yes, that does make perfect sense that one college may suit somebody more than another in regard to its location and aesthetics etc. Some like brutalism others prefer the architectural style Oxbridge is renowned for.

Forgive me for being a tad dim... if all colleges attract the same calibre of students.. would it not be possible to ascertain that those most popular colleges, such as Brasenose, St John's, Merton, Worcester etc have a higher choice of applicants and so more likely to get the very best?

Do students tend to self select? Eg. those advised that aren't "brilliant" should apply to one of the less well known colleges like St Anne's or St. Catherines?

In regard to the Norrington Table, does a consistently high ranking mean that a student who is accepted to study there is more likely to get a First than a student at a lesser ranked college? Or is there more to it than that?

OP’s posts: |
jeanne16 Wed 28-Feb-18 15:49:05

I believe the Oxford pooling system is quite effective so it doesn’t really matter which college you apply to. Lots of students get offers from different colleges from the one they apply to. Most end up happy with the one they get.

Tropicalfish Wed 28-Feb-18 22:55:59

It could be the case that higher ranking colleges place more pressure on their students to do well. There is already enough pressure at Oxford with 8 week terms and a huge workload. Imo more pressure above this is not a good idea

Dancingdreamer Sun 04-Mar-18 00:29:07

I think the biggest thing to consider is whether colleges offer accommodation for all years of the course or only 1 or 2 years. My DD was very keen to go to a college where she would not be forced to live out in private accommodation. Surprisingly this took out some of the really popular colleges such as New as well as some others such as St Peter’s.

Tropicalfish Sun 04-Mar-18 11:50:32

I would consider the pastoral care offered by the college. In some, it is the chaplain that provides this. Tbh, if I had a DD going there, I don't this this provision is satisfactory.

goodbyestranger Sun 04-Mar-18 12:34:59

One has to be careful not to overthink this. How do you seriously expect a prospective applicant to divine what the real quality of pastoral support is like in any given college? And on the accommodation front, lots of colleges offer accommodation 'for all undergraduate years' but that might simply mean for a smallish number who are happy to flog in and out each day from fairly grotty accommodation miles up one of the arterial roads.

A key thing to remember is that things can change very quickly and you can't do a particularly meaningful belts and braces approach because at any given moment a college might embark on a grand design for a new block which throws all students out of college for the duration, a less than brilliant pastoral lead might be replaced with a fabulous one or - not unlikely - this very discerning applicant might be pooled to a college which meets none of their carefully researched criteria.

My advice would be to go and look around all colleges which take your fancy then plump for the one which most takes your fancy and don't get too wedded to the idea of a particular college since there's really quite a strong chance of being jilted at the altar smile

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