Choosing a college is an important decision for students looking to study at the University of Cambridge. With 31 colleges to choose from, it can be overwhelming to make a decision. In this article, we’ll provide you with some tips on how to choose a Cambridge college that best suits your needs.
Before we jump in, watch this video I made about how to choose a Cambridge College:
Looking to choose a Cambridge college that’s right for you? This article provides helpful tips and considerations to help narrow down your options. From location and size to academic programs and social activities, I’ve got you covered. Read on to make an informed decision about which Cambridge college to call home during your university experience.
1. Research your Cambridge Colleges
Research is key when it comes to choosing a college. Take the time to read about each college and their individual characteristics. This will help you narrow down your options based on factors such as size, location, and facilities. Each college has its own unique personality, and you want to choose one that best aligns with your values and interests.
2. Cambridge College Location
Location is an important factor to consider when choosing a college. Some students may prefer to be in the heart of the city, while others may prefer a quieter and more rural environment. Consider what you want in terms of local amenities and access to transportation. If you enjoy going out, you may want to choose a college that is closer to the city center. On the other hand, if you prefer a peaceful environment to study, a college outside of the city center may be more suitable.
3. Cambridge College Size
The size of the college is another important factor to consider. Some students may prefer a smaller college community, while others may enjoy the hustle and bustle of a larger community. Smaller colleges tend to have a more intimate atmosphere, with closer relationships between students and faculty. Larger colleges, on the other hand, can offer more academic and social opportunities.
4. Cambridge College Accommodation
Accommodation is another important factor to consider when choosing a college. Each college has its own accommodation options, ranging from traditional dorms to modern apartments. Take the time to research what type of accommodation is offered at each college, as well as the cost of living on campus.
5. Academic Excellence at individual Cambridge Colleges
The academics active in each college are an important factor to consider. Research the academic departments at each college and who supervises for your intended subject. Some colleges may specialize in certain fields, so if you know what you want to study, look for a college that excels in that area.
This being said, every Cambridge student completes the same courses. The college is only responsible for your accommodation, well-being, and individual academic supervision. So no matter which college you choose, you will get the top-notch Cambridge experience regardless. It’s just that some colleges are more renowned for certain subjects thanks to the famous alumni and scholars who are currently fellows of those colleges. So with a bit of research, you can get to be supervised one-on-one by top academics in your field.
It can also be a smart strategy to apply for a college that is not so renowned for your own subject to improve your chances of being accepted. As an example, it is more competitive to apply for maths at Trinity College than at Clare College, but more competitive to apply for music at Clare than at Trinity.
But even if you decide to go for maths at Trinity College or music at Clare College, there is also the “pool” system – if a college cannot offer you a place but still considers you a worthy candidate, they can throw your profile into the pool, where other colleges can pick you up.
But despite the long-winded section about academia, this is the least important aspect of choosing a Cambridge college. It’s best not to overthink it and go with your gut feeling based on all the other considerations.
6. Social Activities at each Cambridge College
Social activities are an important part of college life. Each college has its own traditions and events, and it’s important to choose a college that aligns with your social interests. For example, some colleges may have a strong sports program, while others may focus on drama or music. Look for a college that offers the social activities you enjoy most.
7. History and Culture of your Cambridge College
Cambridge is steeped in history and culture, and each college has its own unique traditions and culture. Take the time to learn about the history and culture of each college and consider whether it aligns with your personal interests.
In conclusion, choosing a college at the University of Cambridge requires careful consideration. By researching each college, considering location, size, accommodation, academic programs, social activities, and history and culture, you can find a college that best suits your needs and interests. Remember that each college has its own unique personality, and the college you choose can greatly impact your university experience.
A brief overview of each Cambridge college and its history, notable alumni, and unique features
- Christ’s College: Founded in 1437, Christ’s College is known for its strong academic reputation and beautiful architecture. Notable alumni include Charles Darwin and John Milton.
- Churchill College: Established in 1958, Churchill College is named after Winston Churchill and is dedicated to science, engineering, and technology. Notable alumni include Nobel Prize winners Francis Crick and James Watson.
- Clare College: Founded in 1326, Clare College is one of the oldest and most beautiful colleges in Cambridge. Notable alumni include John Baskerville, who created the Baskerville typeface, and actor Ian McKellen.
- Corpus Christi College: Founded in 1352, Corpus Christi College has a rich history and is known for its impressive collection of manuscripts and rare books. Notable alumni include poet John Donne and philosopher Bertrand Russell.
- Darwin College: Founded in 1964, Darwin College is dedicated to postgraduate studies and research. Notable alumni include mathematician Andrew Wiles, who solved Fermat’s Last Theorem.
- Downing College: Established in 1800, Downing College is located near the city center and is known for its beautiful gardens. Notable alumni include former Prime Minister Tony Blair and writer Salman Rushdie.
- Emmanuel College: Founded in 1584, Emmanuel College has a strong academic reputation and is known for its beautiful chapel. Notable alumni include physicist Lord Rayleigh and poet John Dryden.
- Fitzwilliam College: Founded in 1869, Fitzwilliam College is known for its progressive values and commitment to diversity. Notable alumni include actor Hugh Laurie and journalist David Frost.
- Girton College: Founded in 1869, Girton College was the first women’s college in Cambridge. Notable alumni include suffragette Millicent Fawcett and former UK Prime Minister Theresa May.
- Gonville and Caius College: Founded in 1348, Gonville and Caius College is one of the oldest and wealthiest colleges in Cambridge. Notable alumni include physicist Stephen Hawking and actor Sacha Baron Cohen.
- Homerton College: Established in 1768, Homerton College is dedicated to teacher training and education. Notable alumni include poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning and education reformer Emma Willard.
- Hughes Hall: Founded in 1885, Hughes Hall is a graduate college with a diverse student body. Notable alumni include politician Priti Patel and writer Julian Barnes.
- Jesus College: Founded in 1496, Jesus College is located in the heart of Cambridge and has a strong academic reputation. Notable alumni include actor Rowan Atkinson and economist Amartya Sen.
- King’s College: Founded in 1441, King’s College is known for its famous chapel and impressive choir. Notable alumni include economist John Maynard Keynes and writer E.M. Forster.
- Lucy Cavendish College: Founded in 1965, Lucy Cavendish College is dedicated to mature female students. Notable alumni include author Jeanette Winterson and actress Emma Thompson.
- Magdalene College: Founded in 1428, Magdalene College has a strong academic reputation and is located near the River Cam. Notable alumni include scientist Francis Bacon and poet Samuel Pepys.
- Murray Edwards College: Founded in 1954, Murray Edwards College is dedicated to women’s education and has a strong commitment to sustainability. Notable alumni include Baroness Susan Greenfield and novelist Sarah Waters.
- Newnham College: Founded in 1871, Newnham College is a women’s college with a strong focus on science and engineering. Notable alumni include mathematician Mary Cartwright and social reformer Octavia Hill.
- Pembroke College: Founded in 1347, Pembroke College is known for its beautiful gardens and strong academic reputation. Notable alumni include writer E.M. Forster and former UK Prime Minister William Pitt the Younger.
- Peterhouse: Founded in 1284, Peterhouse is the oldest college in Cambridge and has a strong academic reputation. Notable alumni include scientist Lord Kelvin and poet Tennyson.
- Queens’ College: Founded in 1448, Queens’ College is located on the River Cam and has a beautiful boathouse. Notable alumni include economist Thomas Malthus and actor Hugh Bonneville.
- Robinson College: Founded in 1977, Robinson College is one of the newest colleges in Cambridge and has a modern architecture. Notable alumni include journalist Jon Snow and musician David Gilmour.
- St Catharine’s College: Founded in 1473, St Catharine’s College is known for its beautiful gardens and strong academic reputation. Notable alumni include physicist Max Born and economist John Harsanyi.
- St Edmund’s College: Founded in 1896, St Edmund’s College is a graduate college with a diverse student body. Notable alumni include economist Thomas Piketty and writer Kazuo Ishiguro.
- St John’s College: Founded in 1511, St John’s College is known for its impressive architecture and beautiful gardens. Notable alumni include writer C.S. Lewis and scientist James Clerk Maxwell.
- Selwyn College: Founded in 1882, Selwyn College is located near the city center and has a strong academic reputation. Notable alumni include actor Tom Hiddleston and scientist Fred Sanger.
- Sidney Sussex College: Founded in 1596, Sidney Sussex College is located near the city center and has a strong academic reputation. Notable alumni include scientist Charles Darwin and writer Samuel Pepys.
- Trinity College: Founded in 1546, Trinity College is one of the largest and wealthiest colleges in Cambridge. Notable alumni include physicist Isaac Newton and poet Lord Byron.
- Trinity Hall: Founded in 1350, Trinity Hall is known for its beautiful gardens and strong academic reputation. Notable alumni include writer E.M. Forster and philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein.
- Wolfson College: Founded in 1965, Wolfson College is a graduate college with a diverse student body. Notable alumni include scientist Richard Dawkins and writer Hanif Kureishi.
- Homerton College: Established in 1976, Homerton College is dedicated to teacher training and education, and is the only college in Cambridge to have been awarded full university status in its own right. Notable alumni include actor and comedian Stephen Fry and educationist Dorothy Heathcote.
This wraps up this short overview of how to choose a Cambridge College. Don’t overthink it, go with your gut feeling, and good luck!