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Choosing a Cambridge College(18 Posts)
My daughter is due to start uni in Sept 2019, so is currently in the process of applying. She has been looking at Cambridge but isn't sure which college to apply for. She will be applying for History and Politics, and although we have 2 friends who studied at Jesus, we don't want to rely on this recommendation too heavily as this was in the 80s. Ideally she would like a college not too far from the centre, and largish, but probably not one of the most well known as we've heard these tend to be very touristy. She doesn't care particularly about sports facilities etc and strongly wants to avoid an all female college, but aside from this and wanting to be near a bit of action she has little preference. She doesn't want to apply through the pool in case she gets assigned to a very small/far out/all female college, but is struggling to choose between those that aren't all girls to meet the other crude and from those choose what suits her best. Any ideas? Thanks
Is she attending an open day? She could look at the alternative prospectus on www.applytocambridge.com has student reviews of each college. The Cambridge uni website under Find Out More has application stats by course/college.
It helps to choose a college which has a decent number of people doing the same subject as you, otherwise it can be a bit lonely in supervisions for the first year. So see if you can find a college that takes at least 5-10 students each year for history/politics.
Other than that, I would recommend going to an open day if at all possible and meeting some current students. I was dead set on Pembroke or Downing before I visited for an open day but I actually applied to Catz as the students there were so much friendlier.
Hi, thanks, she's attending an open day in about a week but she won't have time to visit more than one or two colleges then, and we've been to look around but it was in the easter holidays so nowhere was open, we were just wondering if there were a few fitting that description we should shortlist to tour on the open day. How did you find your personal experience? Thanks x
Pembroke, Christ’s, St Catherine’s, Jesus, Emmanuel would all be good choices for her. Don’t worry too much about it: in my experience people generally think the college they went to is the best one!
From a general/non subject specific point of view then Emma, Christ’s, Caius, Catz or Queens might be of interest as they are all central and reasonably sized but not overly touristy.
Think also about where lectures will be and which departments DD wants to be near to, as it can be very handy having a 5 min walk to lectures/very annoying having a 15min cycle when you’ve been out late the night before and overslept!!
Intake at most colleges for History and Politics has been tiny in these first two years the course has been running.
Magdalene, Girton and Selwyn might be worth looking at. Robinson too. She may not like Girton (too far out) or Robinson (too modern) but they have a reasonable intake for this course I think.
Caius will be too touristy and Catz has a tiny intake.
Have you looked at Pembroke?
If she likes small and tucked away (yet very cute), then Tit Hall took two students for 2017 and three for 2018 (which is pretty good compared to other small colleges).
My daughter had similar criterion to yours (albeit a different subject). Based on this we shortlisted Emma, Pembroke, Catz, Queens, Christ's, Clare, Caius. We looked at all these colleges plus a couple more over the two days in July first week (Cam Uni Open Days) - we went both days. Finally "found" the one that appealed to her most - which was down to things like duck ponds and free laundry and good food!
In any case, I think they are all good. You can't go wrong with any you pick.
My dd is at Emma. She chose it based on the fact that it came out top in a survey which asked students which college they would like to be in if they weren't in their own! It has a good location but doesn't have many tourists around it. It is a very friendly college and the swimming pool and having your laundry done for you are added bonuses!
DD is at Caius, she found is surprisingly not touristy despite the college being central next to Kings and Senate House.
First years are in Harvey Court or the Stephen Hawking building across the Cam so they are out of the way, second years are dotted about town in college owned property so they can choose to be as close to town as they wish. Third years are in the college or opposite in St Michaels court and that is right in the town center but found it was not too busy apart from the sad passing of Stephen Hawking.
Rent is slightly higher as there is a non negotiable minimum dining requirement charge added on to the rental bill. This can be viewed as a pro or con. It is to encourage the students to dine together 2/3 times per week but food quality can be hit and miss. DD did not have many state school friends in the college and found it to be "quite Tory" but the pastoral care from her DOS and tutor was excellent. The porters are a friendly bunch and when she was unwell last term they were great when we phoned them and they carried a food shop to her room and made regular checks on her.
Her best friend is at Johns and originally DD had some pre conceived ideas of the college but they were unfounded. They provide generous bursaries and helped her out with other financial situations such as emergency dental work. It is a wealthy college and sometimes this encourages unfavorable stereotypes. Their May ball is rated as the 7th best party in the world apparently.
Another friend is at Kings and it is very touristy with quite a left wing quirky feel.
Trinity regularly tops the Tompkins table for academic performance, It is also a wealthy college.
Many students are said to choose Sidney Sussex for its position opposite Sainsbury's and central location but I'm not entirely sure that this is true.
I think as History and Politics is quite a new course numbers are still small. Homerton seems to be popular.
See this link to see admissions by course/college
The University - wide open day when all the colleges are open (or most) helped make DD's mind up.
She went with a list of colleges which met her basic criteria (central, medium sized) and visited about 4. At the end of those she had a clear idea of two she liked very much.
Then on the way back to the car, she walked past somewhere she'd never considered. It was only half an hour before the official end of the day, so just went in for a quick look around. Once inside, she got a personal tour, a long chat with several staff, and a visit to the library - and left well after the 'closing time'. She totally fell in love with the whole ethos, and has just finished her first year there.
But... she has friends and a cousin in other colleges and says she would have been just as happy in any of them too. Basically her original plan - central, medium sized - would have resulted in about 10 possibilities that would all have been fine.
I went to a different college and chose it on the basis of the warmest welcome on Open Day, plus a nice view. Of course, I ended up in modern accommodation in my second year which had a view of a brick wall. Still loved it though.
(I used to have supervisions in Trinity and found the porters rather unhelpful and offhand. DD reports that her friends have been cross examined in a somewhat hostile manner by Trinity porters before being admitted for supervisions so that tradition is still going strong it seems. I am sure they are lovely if you are part of the college however.)
You can also look at the data on the uni website which shows by College how many people applied for each subject, how many offers were made and how many people pooled. That can be helpful both in terms of sizing up the number of places but also how competitive each college was last year.
But honestly, everyone loves their own college.
I went to a college no one has mentioned here and is probably no one’s first choice and I absolutely loved it!
Walk around, get a feel but don’t worry about it too much I’d say.
It's been a few years since I was there, but as far as I can remember tourists aren't allowed in the colleges in term time, so that's not really something to let influence your choice too much I wouldn't think. I was at King's and loved it - it's beautiful to look at, very friendly, and a bit less poncy than some of the other colleges. Good luck to your daughter!
I know you’ve said she wouldn’t go all girls, and I felt the same when I applied, but I was pooled to Newnham and honestly it was the most incredible, inspiring, and welcoming place.
I loved it and am still very loyal to the college all these years later. I recommend it whole heartedly. My closest friends from Newnham are still my best friends, but we have a wider (mixed!) friendship group from our courses.
Beyond that, I’d recommend that she looks at the faculty website at the staff, and see if there are any people with interests which especially overlap with her own. Who would she be thrilled to be taught by? And she could take a look at their college to see if she likes the look of it.
Is true everyone loves their own college but I went to Trinity Hall and it was brilliant , as far as I can tell, it still is. I don't think she'll go far wrong with any of the city centre medium size colleges already mentioned.