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28 Oct

How To Choose Oxbridge Colleges
<p>1. From admissions perspective</p><p><strong>Research/ Lecture areas of tutors</strong></p><p>This particularly applies to sciences. Most college website has their tutors’ profiles displayed, e.g. <a target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" href=""><strong></strong></a></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Not all the college tutors will give department lectures but many do and their lecture topics will be related to their research areas.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>The simplest way to do this is to go through tutors’ profiles for each college one by one when searching for a college that has tutors that have research areas same/similar to yours.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>It’s hard to say interview questions will necessarily be based on tutors’ research/ lecture areas because some research areas just don’t have any overlaps with A-Level syllabus. But after all, tutors design the interview questions and it may well be possible that questions with relevance to their research/ lecture areas may come up.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&lt;Oxford, Biochemistry 2010-2014&gt;</p><p>“My tutor was a lecturer for molecular toolbox (genetic engineering techniques) and the question asked was on vector design. But then in the interview at randomly allocated college, the tutor’s research/lecture areas were on membrane proteins. But the question asked was on amino acids.”</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&lt;Oxford, Chemistry 2011-2015&gt;</p><p>“My tutor was an expert in quantum mechanics and the interview itself was about molecular interactions. I'm glad that I have a thorough read on something similar before my interview!”</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&lt;Oxford, Engineering 2015-2019&gt;</p><p>“Of the many tutors that our college has, the tutors did not ask about their research areas. Although very uncommon, my tutors mentioned my personal statement and questioned me on the books I had read and mentioned. My interview was conducted like a tutorial and it is important to polish up your maths and physics!”</p><p>If you quote some academic readings that is related to the applying college tutor’s research area, tutor(s) will probably bring this up in the interview and if you answer it well, this may well be an advantage.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Check whether your course is offered</strong></p><p>Most colleges will offer the major courses with 100+ students. However for subjects like Oxford biomedical sciences, there are only 16 colleges out of the total 30 that offer this course. So first check which colleges offer your course.</p><p><br>Oxford: <a target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" href=""><strong></strong></a> &nbsp;</p><p>Cambridge: <a target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" href=""><strong></strong></a> (subject overview page, e.g. Architecture)</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Applicant ratio statistics?</strong></p><p>Studying last year and the years before admissions intake ratio to choose a college with seemingly higher chance of getting in would be something that can be empathized from the applicant’s perspective.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Regarding open applications, theoretically, the system assigns open applicants to colleges with the least number of applicants that seemingly indicate great chance of getting in. Clearly the universities will have a system to ensure all applicants regardless of applied colleges will be fairly assessed. For example, the pooling system is in place to ensure worthy applicants are given places at the departmental level. Please refer to the &lt;‘Pooling system’&gt; that ensures near equal admissions chance regardless of the college chosen.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Avoid the top ranked colleges</strong></p><p>Despite the pooling system mentioned above, the very top colleges, Merton, St.John's, Magdalene and etc., in the Norrington table (ranking of all Oxford colleges by academic performance) are very strict in their demands for applicants' academic capability such that even though their annual intake number for a course is 4, they may only take 2 they are happy with, i.e. do not participate in pooling (N.B.// pooling system for Oxford and Cambridge are quite different).</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>So looking at the Norrington table or Tompkins table and then avoiding the top few may be a good idea. Having said that it is important to remember that each college admits applicants at the unit of subjects and that different courses at a college are of different performance/level on the Norrington table. Therefore, your applying college being in the top 10 of Norrington table doesn't necessarily mean that college is strong for your applying degree subject. But unfortunately, there isn't a table the ranks colleges by subject so can only refer to the overall college ranking.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Have friends currently studying in the university?</strong></p><p>Not strictly fair but if you have access to some current undergraduates at Oxford and Cambridge, applying to their colleges might give you some advantage in the interviews as interview questions sometimes may not change from year to year meaning if you get mock interviews from current undergraduates based on their own interview questions, you may be asked questions that you have access to.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>2. From university lifestyle perspective</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>www.<a target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" href=""><strong></strong></a></p><p>For Oxford, Oxford university students have created a website lots of information about all the colleges including a quiz called ‘College Suggester’ you can do to see which college most suits you.</p><p><img src="" alt="oxford_college_suggester.png"></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>All factors to consider are covered in the survey above but just to point out some important aspects:</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>College character/atmosphere</strong></p><p>Every college can have a distinct character and atmosphere:</p><p><br>[Number of students]</p><p>A college with a small number of students may feel more homely and a family like environment while a larger college may feel like a more vibrant and lively atmosphere.<br>Cambridge: Gonville &amp; Caius is a very large college with ~550 undergraduates while Corpus Christi is a small one with ~250 undergraduates.</p><p>Oxford: Wadham is a relative large college with ~450 students while Corpus Christi is one of the smallest with ~250 undergraduates.</p><p><br>[Beauty]<br>Most colleges situated in the central and southern parts of Oxford have beautiful early century architecture in the characteristic sand color with differing degrees of size and grandness. On the other hand, colleges in the northern part are mostly more modern and therefore don’t give that historic feel.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>[Female only]<br>3 Cambridge colleges, Newnham, Murray Edwards and Lucy Cavendish only admit females only.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>[Mature students only (age of 21 above only)]<br>Oxford Harris Manchester College (lots of Singaporeans)<br>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Location</strong></p><p>Some colleges can be really far apart from the town center, thus considered inconvenient location wise, e.g. St. Hugh’s College, Oxford which takes good 20 minutes to walk to the center. On the other hand, some colleges can be right in the center of the town allowing your daily to be very convenient, e.g. Downing College, Cambridge, situated among restaurants in the town center.<br><br>For attending department lectures early in the morning, you will also want to consider the location as this can take good 20 minutes unless you have a bike of course。</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Accommodation</strong></p><p>As you already know the renowned colleges are renowned because they are very rich. St John’s, Oxford once used to own the whole road connecting it to St John’s College in Cambridge. Trinity College gives out 1000 scholarship for all its students that receive 1st in prelims as well as hosting the grandest May ball.<br>&nbsp;</p><p>For a number of lucky students, these colleges do offer some amazing standard student rooms, almost luxurious. Rooms are categorized into grades with differing quality and price and chosen often through ballot. This will depend on colleges, but A* and A rooms will often be ensuite.<br>&nbsp;</p><p>Older colleges definitely have rooms that may need refurnishing. Extreme cases include, not being warm enough in the winter due to not tightly sealed enough windows and the floor not being tilted as a 5th floor room. For modern colleges like St Catherine’s, Oxford, all rooms have pretty much the same quality, very modern ensuite rooms.</p><p><br>Most rooms will be single. However, there’s also the option of going into shared rooms between 2,3 and 4 with additional housing facilities such as kitchen, lounge sofas and etc depending on colleges.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Experience these in the open day</strong></p><p>&lt;Open Days&gt; are when the university welcome prospective applicants to visit the university/colleges so a chance to see for real what colleges are like. You can even &lt;meet college subject tutors&gt; that will be teaching you for the next 3, 4 years if successfully admitted.</p>