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How to Choose an Oxford College

By Annie M/@annwins.adventures

Many of those uninitiated into Oxford may think of the University like most others – with one central campus where everybody takes lessons. Oxford however is a collegiate university, meaning that the “university” itself is more of a concept than a particular building, and there are 44 different colleges you can apply to!

With so many options, it can be hard to wrap your head around how to even measure what a “good” college is. Whilst there are no “best” colleges, there are ways you can measure how good a college would be for you personally. Here are some ways to measure them, in order of specificity.

1- Do they offer your course?

This is a simple measure to automatically knock off a lot of the possible options, as not all colleges do all courses, and not all colleges accept undergraduates. Your first step of elimination should be to make sure that the college does your desired course at the desired level, and if not, knock it off!

2- Do they have the facilities you need?

Not all colleges are going to have the same facilities. For example, I am a very fussy eater, so it was important that my college had personal cooking facilities available, and I also wanted to live on the college site for the full duration of my course, which some colleges do not offer.

The Oxford University Website states that all colleges offer the following: a porter’s lodge; a dining hall; a library (some of which are open 24/7 in term time); accommodation; tutors’ teaching rooms; music rooms; laundry rooms; green spaces and a Junior Common Room (known as the JCR). However, there are other facilities such as student kitchens; en-suite toilets; accommodation for the full duration of your course; gyms; swimming pools and storage between terms that are only available in some colleges. Choose what you value and whittle down your list a little more.

3- The Student Population.

This may not necessarily matter to you, but sometimes we would like to live somewhere where we feel represented. Coming from a state school background where nobody in my family had been to university before, I wanted to choose a college that had at least 50% state school students. You can either go onto the individual college websites (if available) to see their admissions statistics, or you can look up the Annual Admissions Statistical Report by Oxford University that filters admissions statistics through all sorts of parameters. If you have your heart set on a college that doesn’t represent you, maybe consider being the representation for others - be the change you want to see!

4- Aesthetics.

Oh c’mon… A secret little part of why we all chose Oxford is because of that dark academic aesthetic… If you’re living in a place as beautiful as Oxford, you’ll probably have preferences. Would you like a modern building or an old/historical one? Do you like big gardens? Do you want a big or small college? These are all things to consider if you value the aesthetics of where you live. Luckily, this shouldn’t be too important as most colleges are gorgeous!

So there are 4 ways to go from a massive list, to a specific college that caters for your needs. A useful tool is the College Suggester Website by the Oxford Student Union, but do your own research too!


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