Choosing the right college in the right university | Varsity Education

Choosing the right college in the right university

Choosing the right university can be overwhelming. In addition to courses there’s location, reputation, bursaries, faculty and prestige to think about. After deciding on which university you favour, you now need to choose a college. At universities, colleges are student hubs that house scholars who may share common interests but are often pursuing different degrees. Colleges act as self-governing entities in accordance with the university, with control over admissions, finances and unique academic pursuits. You will apply directly to the college rather than the university, so some research should be done to improve your chances of success.

Oxford University

At Oxford University, there are 38 colleges. The number of members ranges from roughly 100 to 800 but even in larger colleges, friends are made quickly. Opportunities to add to college life and partake in activities such as sports, music, drama workshops and special events are endless.  Colleges are a major component of university life, so it’s a good idea to look for one that offers more than just room and board. If you’re having difficulty deciding on a college, Oxford University’s college listings page is a great starting point. The right college choice can significantly increase your chances of gaining admission in to university. Choosing a college wisely will increase your chances of being accepted by Oxford or Cambridge as one college may be oversubscribed due to subject choices whilst another may have more spaces free.

Cambridge University

Cambridge University houses 29 undergraduate colleges. Educational support is readily available and the more personal, small-group teachings that Cambridge colleges organise are a distinctive feature of their collegiate system.  Most of the entertainment and social activities are arranged by current students for their respective college. Regular film nights and discos, which are open to all students, provide an opportunity to mix and mingle.  In addition to being the centre of your social life, colleges can also relate to you on a personal level. St. Edmund’s College, for example, has a distinct international flavour with 60 countries represented within its diverse student body.  Cambridge also has four colleges that are women-only and three that accommodate mature students. You can find out more about Cambridge’s other colleges here.

When choosing your college you should keep these key factors in mind:

  • COURSE – Colleges may not admit all subjects so check availability, they may favour science, history or the arts
  • AGE – Restrictions may be imposed based on age; some colleges only accept mature students over 21 such as Blackfriars and Harris Manchester at Oxford
  • GENDER – Some colleges consider applications from female students only such as Murray Edwards, Newnham, Lucy Cavendish colleges at Cambridge
  • SIZE – The number of students; you may feel more comfortable in a smaller, more intimate college or a larger one where you can mix in with the crowd
  • ACCOMMODATION – Make sure you like where you’ll be living and the location, you may not want to be based somewhere that’s a long walk or cycle to lectures
  • FACILITIES – If you have a disability then access is an important consideration as some colleges are better equipped than others. Internet access is also important as some colleges have restrictions on bandwidth and download speeds
  • INTUITION – A college may just feel ‘right’ to you, if your gut feeling is that you’d fit in there, you probably will