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How to Pick an Oxford College

By Aaryana Sethi

Okay, so you’re ready to submit your UCAS app, but you aren’t sure if you should send in an “open” application (no college choice indicated). Alternatively you may want to pick one of the many many options but if you do pick one, which one? These are just some of the things to think of, but I hope you find this blog helpful in deciding whether to apply to a certain college and, if so, which one.

Should I even pick a college?

Short answer, I think so, yes. This is your chance to influence where you call the next three to six (if you do medicine!) years home. As I’m sure you’ve already heard, the colleges are all more similar than they are different. But, they do all have their differences, however slight. By picking a college and doing just a bit of research or talking to current students, you can choose the place that will feel most comfortable for you.

Because of the Oxford admissions pooling system, picking a college doesn’t mean that only that one college will consider your application, it just means they’ll be the first to consider it; so, essentially, all you’re doing by choosing a college is giving yourself a shot at landing there.

Which college should I pick?

Again, it doesn’t really matter where you end up, and you’ll probably say that your college is the best college by the time Fresher’s Week is over, but here are a few things to consider:

  • Do I want a college with more modern or older architecture?

  • Do I want a small college or a big one?

  • Do I want a college which has a lot of people per year on my course? Do you want a coursemate? Does it not matter to you? (My college only has one or two people a year who do my course.)

  • Do I care about the college’s history? Do I want a college with certain alumnae? Do I want a college which has a history of being an all-women’s college?

  • Do I care where in Oxford the college is located (close to the city center or not)?

  • Do I want a college with certain facilities available to me (gym, a particularly good rowing team, a library which is especially plentiful on my subject area)?

  • Is there a particular tutor whom I really want to be my Director of Studies (person who oversees the organisation of your course)? - You can still be taught by tutors outside your college for certain papers!


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