For those of you who are applying, are you worried about which College to choose? Chances are, many of you will apply directly to a College unless you are making an open application. You may have done some research on College websites about the environment, accommodation, location, tutors and specific entry requirements of each College – but the big question remains: how should I go about deciding on a College? Fear not, I’ve compiled a list of factors that I considered before applying to my College. Hope this helps!
1) Facilities: I enjoy sports, running and being active in general. If you are into sports, do remember to look at each College’s facilities on-site and off-site. Some Colleges have a gym, others don’t. Many Colleges have large off College sports grounds that vary in terms of distance and size. My College has squash courts, badminton courts, a multi-gym and plenty of other rooms for relaxation and entertainment.
2) Food: Personally, I am not a picky eater so this isn’t much of a deciding factor for me. But if you are concerned about meals, then I’d suggest that you take a look at the ‘Buttery’ section of College websites. Many Colleges upload their menus online, so you can get a general gist of what the College can offer you in terms of food. My College has special “theme nights” to celebrate festivals, where the food and desserts are scrumptious!
3) Library: Many students choose to work in the College library. Others choose to pour over essays in their rooms or a department library (usually situated in the city centre). If you are the former, then the College library’s quality may be an important deciding factor when choosing a College. Libraries in Cambridge come in all shapes and sizes: Some are small and cozy, some are brand-new and modern, and others even have beds!
4) Accommodation: Again, Cambridge student rooms also come in various forms and sizes. My College’s room falls on the small side compared to the ones found in other Colleges. Some rooms are newly furnished and are located outside the College – many first-year students live outside their College and move in for their second/ third year.
5) Distance: One of the best advice I can give, after being here for slightly over a term, is that distance matters. Some Colleges are further away from the town centre than others but may be closer to the department of faculty that you are interested in. My advice is to look at the official Cambridge University Map, which can be found online at www.map.cam.ac.uk, and make sure you know where you will be having lectures, where your department is and where your potential Colleges are located.
So, remember to do your research carefully before picking a College. A good method is to shortlist three or four before narrowing it down to one. It is really important to consider all of the factors above because this important decision can really affect your life after you have received the acceptance letter, packed up your bags and officially begin life as a Cambridge student.