The Best Cambridge College for Medicine: How to Choose the Right One
Deciding the “best” college for any subject is a difficult topic. The education at Cambridge is world-class regardless of the college, but of course, you still want to make the right decisions for your child in terms of their academic and personal life for the next few years.
We’ve already shown you how to pick an Oxford College, now let’s have a closer look at how to pick the best Cambridge college for Medicine.
How do I know which is the best Cambridge college for Medicine?
Firstly, it’s hard to determine the best Cambridge college for Medicine academically because the data is so mixed. You may have encountered the Tompkins Table, which is a ranking of all the colleges based on undergraduates’ final degree results.
Unlike its Oxford equivalent, the Norrington Table, the Tompkins Table has not been endorsed by the University since 2016, so it should be treated with caution.
Using this table, the top three colleges from the 2018 degree results are Christ’s, Pembroke and Trinity colleges. These colleges produce the highest proportion of first-class degrees from their undergraduate classes, so if this matters to you and your son or daughter then you may want to consider these colleges.
On the basis of this table, you may be tempted to argue that Christ’s is the best Cambridge college for Medicine. However, remember that the differences between the colleges are very small, and they change significantly every year.
Also, these rankings are based on the final exam results of people who are four or five years ahead of your child. By the time they sit their final exams, the table may look completely different! It’s fine to look at academic results of colleges when making the choice, but make sure you treat them critically.
It might also be tempting to decide that the best Cambridge college for Medicine is the one which has the professors in the topic your child is interested in. While that would be an impressive amount of research at the application stage, it’s important to know that the majority of teaching is in university departments. The teaching in college is a relatively small proportion of your child’s overall education.
Secondly, a specific supervisor might not be involved in undergraduate teaching, or they may have retired or moved on by the time you arrive at Cambridge. Although being more informed is never a bad thing, don’t choose a college your child is otherwise not keen on just because a specific professor is there because it might backfire!
What else can I use to choose a college?
The colleges are more alike than they are different, so it’s hard to know what to prioritise when making an application. The first steps on how to choose a Cambridge College can be difficult no matter what subject your child is thinking of studying.
However, especially for Medicine which has a lot of contact hours, the location of the college will have a big influence on the overall experience. You might feel, then, that the best Cambridge college for Medicine is simply the one closest to the departments!
Students will mostly be educated at the Sidgwick and Downing Sites and, later on, at the School of Clinical Medicine on the Addenbrooke’s site. The Sidgwick and Downing sites are slightly apart from each other; the college closest to both is Queens’ College, which is about halfway between the sites and about a 7-minute walk from each. St Catharine’s College and Darwin College are both located conveniently in between the departments, so these could also be great choices if your child wants that extra 10 minutes in bed!
When students have to go up to Addenbrooke’s, however, it’s a slightly different story. Homerton College is the closest college to the hospital, at a 20-minute walk away, and it is not especially close to the centre of town where Sidgwick and Downing Sites are.
Some people will want to focus on being closer to the centre initially as they get to know the city. Plus, they’ll be closer to their first-year lectures and other amenities. Other people might just prefer the peace and space of colleges outside of the centre.
Remember though it’s all down to personal choice!
Also, remember that Cambridge is a small place; most of the colleges are within a 10-minute cycle ride of the departments, and even if your child moves out of college into a student house they still won’t be very far away from anything.
So – academic qualities, location… anything else I need to know?
Hughes Hall doesn’t offer Medicine, so bear this in mind if applying as a mature student and are considering it. Murray Edwards, Newnham, and Lucy Cavendish are all women’s colleges, which is worth knowing if considering making an application here.
Some colleges are notorious for sports, especially St John’s and Jesus college for rowing. Other colleges can offer accommodation for the entire undergraduate degree, such as Robinson and Emmanuel. Some colleges, such as Sidney Sussex, are closer to the most popular clubs and local amenities.
It really depends on what your child values! All of the colleges provide an amazing experience and education. Cambridge is a special place, and the education is phenomenal. The reason there is so much debate about the best Cambridge college, for Medicine or for other subjects, is because there is no single correct answer. They all have their charms, and your son or daughter will end up loving whichever college becomes their own.
And don’t listen to what you’ve heard about Cambridge. We’ve written a post set out to debunk the myths common when Cambridge is the topic of conversation.
Ultimately, the best Cambridge college for Medicine is the one which is best for them! If you’re looking for support with your child’s application and want to give them the best opportunity of achieving their place in their dream Cambridge college, triple their chances of success with us!
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