Picking your Oxford college

With so much on offer, choosing a university can be complicated. Choosing the university you want to apply to is one of the first steps in the admissions process. During your time at Oxford, you will spend a lot of time at your university, having tutorials, writing late-night essays or just hanging out with your friends...

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With so much choice, picking your college can be tricky.

Picking which college you want to apply to is one of the first steps in the admissions process. Over your time at Oxford, you will spend a lot of time in your college, having tutorials, writing essays late into the night or just hanging out with your friends. A lot of people get stressed about which college to choose, wondering if there is a ‘right’ college, or whether there is one they are more likely to get into than the others.

Here are some things to bear in mind when thinking about which college you want to apply to:

  1. Not all colleges offer all the subjects. The first thing you can do to narrow down your choice is to figure out which colleges offer your course (you can do this by using this site).
  2. Think about what you want from your college;

Whilst all colleges offer excellent facilities (well-stocked libraries, a catered hall, scenic landscapes) there are ways in which they differ. Try thinking about the following questions:

  • Is it important for you to have a library that is open 24/7?
  • How much do you want to be in the centre of Oxford?
  • Do you want to live in college all three years, or would you prefer to live out at some point?
  • Would you like a college with a big student body, or a smaller one?

These are just some of the ways that colleges differ from each other. If you have a strong preference for one of these aspects, that might help inform your decision. You can find out answers to all of these questions on the individual colleges’ websites.

  1. The college you apply to does not make a difference to your chances of getting in to Oxford. If you are a good candidate, but the college you apply to is already full for your subject, you will be sent to interview at another college. This makes the system fair, meaning you don’t have to apply tactically.
  1. Remember – you can always make an ‘open application’. This means applying to Oxford with no preference of college. You will be allocated a college at random to interview at, leaving the choice of college up to chance. Once again, this does not give you an advantage or disadvantage in the application process.

At the end of the day, there is no ‘wrong’ college.

They are all great, and everyone ends up thinking theirs is the best. Make an informed decision, but don’t worry if you don’t end up in the one you wanted.

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