Currently at the end of my second year, I have a love-hate relationship with LSE.
I came to LSE with high hopes. I knew that the social life there is widely known to be non-existant, but I figured, it’s what you make of it! And it only takes a few meaningful encounters to kickstart your social life.
I quickly found that meeting people at LSE is not easy, although it does depend a lot on the effort you put in. One huge factor is the hall you’re in during your first year – I didn’t take my choice of hall seriously enough as I didn’t think it would have a huge impact. But it really does. Do your research on which halls are more social (spoiler: Bankside) and which you should avoid if you really want to spend your daily life with people. This is super important if you’re considering going to LSE. I found myself held back by the hall I was in (Northumberland House) and its tragic lack of any social life. Thankfully, I came to London with close friends in other London unis, so I wasn’t alone, and I did meet some very close friends both in my hall and on campus. But finding LSE people is harder when you don’t share much except maybe a class or a society.
The thing with LSE is that there is no sense of community. And that is true whether you have a good experience or not. There is no sense of belonging, as there is in most other unis. That’s not the end of the world as long as you find your place at uni, friend-wise and also activity-wise. It is super important to get involved in one or two societies, as that really ties you to uni life and avoids you getting completely disconnected from it.
What made me choose LSE over my other options was undeniably its reputation. This will not fail you if you choose to go to LSE – it will open doors for sure, wherever you want to go. Its reputation is based on the genuine level of the courses. The expectations are high, and almost all degrees have a strong quantitative aspect. The quality of the teaching itself is ambiguous, and depends a lot on the lecturers and TAs – in any case your independent study will be the defining factor so you need to be able to work independently and put in the hours. But that’s true for the UK system as a whole.
Overall I have felt very stimulated here and I have enjoyed my degree (PPE). I would definitely recommend it even though it’s 4 years. You just need to come prepared to pour a lot of effort and friendliness into your social life, especially at the beginning. But if you’re lucky you’ll meet the right people right away and then you can expect a great experience. I just think it’s good to be aware before you start, and not expect a sense of belonging or community because you won’t find one here.
I would recommend LSE for the opportunities that it will give you, for the vibrancy of its location, and for the intellectual level of people here – you will find your people if you choose the right hall and if you get involved from the start!
Best of luck!