The importance of choosing a College within University of Cambridge is underrated.Once you get accepted to University of Cambridge, your College defines your student life and can mildly affect your academic performance. A common misconception amongst applicants to Oxford and Cambridge is that your college choice can have an impact on your success rate. This, in practice, is almost always untrue – you can read more on that in this post. However, your college will have an impact on you in ways you may not have expected, here are a few considerations for you to make when choosing your Cambridge college.
The interview process adopted by each College varies.If you excel at written assessments but are not so good at communicating clearly under pressure, it would be best to choose a College that has a test-based interview process, like Trinity College for Engineering. If you perform well on the spot and still prefer to be assessed by written tests, you can choose a College whose interviewers will ask Math questions during the interview giving you the chance to explain your thought process. However, if you are a confident speaker and prefer to go through a general interview before written assessments, you should consider choosing a College with general-based interviews, like St John’s College. General-based interviews are an effective way of stress relief and familiarising yourself with the new environment by asking questions before your written assessments. You can find the interview style of each College on its website. In essence, by choosing the way you want to be assessed, you enable yourself to perform in the best possible way. Which is the best Oxford college for Medicine >>>
Your student life will be strongly influenced by your College, simply because you will spend most of your time there.
Most of your friends, especially in your first year, will be studying in the same College. This is due to the fact that you will only be exposed to College events (many!) when you first arrive here (Freshers’ week). Also, having fun in your College is extremely easy and convenient; there’s always a fun gathering next door. You will eat, sleep, be supervised, study and party in your College more often that you may plan to. The Colleges are like families; and exactly how a family guides a child through childhood, a College guides a student through university life.
Most people love their College and wouldn’t like being in another. However, there are those who regret not taking a more strategic decision. For example, choosing a College that is not far away from the town center can save you miles of cycling, or choosing a rich College can give you extra economic benefits and luxuries. Having studied in St John’s College for three years myself, I have indulged in numerous free formal dinners and have taken advantage of its generosity through various grants and awards.
This brings me to my last point: academic performance.
This mostly applies to subjects which receive supervisions from the Colleges for the first couple of years. Although all supervisors will provide great guidance and tuition, some of them will be more experienced. For example, professors are more knowledgeable than PhD students. How most things in life work, the best professors in their field are based in the richest Colleges. Most of my lecturers in my first year of Engineering were based in Trinity College and consequently, my fellow engineering students in Trinity College were lucky enough to be supervised by our lecturers.
I advise ambitious students to use the Tompkins table as a College guide: it is an annual ranking that lists the Colleges of the University of Cambridge in order of their undergraduate students’ performances in that year’s examinations. The corresponding ranking for Oxford Colleges is the Norrington Table.
Visiting the Colleges, talking with current students, or even contacting the Colleges to find out more about the College life will inform this important decision of yours.
There are also unlimited websites providing useful information, mostly suggesting choosing a College depending on location, facilities or even acceptance rates. Your College will be the place where you will spend most of your time for the next three or four years. Thus, give it the appropriate emphasis.