One of the most important decisions you will make in the Oxbridge application process is which college to apply to. To help you along, our former Associate Consultants, Poppy and Shaun give their top tips for choosing a college at their respective alma maters.
Poppy says: Your college at Oxford becomes your home for 3-5 years, so it’s really important to pick somewhere you’ll be happy. Consider if you want to live in a big or small college, one near the city centre or one known for its sporty students or academic rigour (check out the Norrington Table for a ranking of colleges’ academic achievements). Avoid being tempted to apply for under-subscribed colleges to increase your chances of success. Admissions tutors at all colleges communicate with one another throughout the application process to make sure only the best applicants are offered a place. Therefore, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to slip through the radar if you’re not a top candidate. Oxford has no single-sex colleges anymore so an open application no longer carries the risk of ending up at an all-female or all-male college. However, it’s still worth trying to pick a college where you think you’ll enjoy the ethos and atmosphere. Remember, everyone ends up thinking their college is the best so don’t fret over it too much! Get in touch with our Consultants on +44 (0)207 499 2394, if you would like some more specific advice on which college would be best for you, or have a look at our College Reports for some in-depth information.
Shaun says: Colleges at Cambridge, with the odd exception, tend to be more similar than they are different. No matter where you end up your college will have a bar, rowing team, and (most) have beautiful architecture. My top tip would be to look at the fellows associated with your college, as they will play a large hand in your degree and the direction it may take. Pick somewhere with academics that specialise in your particular area of interest as this will mean that you’ll have access to an academic in the top of your favourite field, and will share interests should they be the person interviewing you. The Tompkins Table gives an academic ranking of all the colleges every year which might also help you make your decision. For girls, do remember that there are three all-female colleges at Cambridge and so an open application will probably see you being pooled to one of them – also wonderful colleges but not for everyone! Each college will have fantastic students and you’ll grow to love wherever you end up. Call me at +44 (0)207 499 2394 if you’ d like some more in-depth info, and look at our book “So you want to go to Oxbridge…Tell me about a banana” for a break-down of key statistics at each Oxbridge college.