Student review [64867] for University of Cambridge

Student review [#64867] for Classics
at University of Cambridge

Cambridge, The United Kingdom
4 months ago
A unique uni, to say the least

Cambridge University provides a unique experience to its students. The difficulty of this is that it is hard to tell whether this experience is the right one for you.

If you are looking at applying to the University of Cambridge, I would recommend following these tips:

> Choose your college carefully;
>>> Colleges have a larger impact on your overall educational experience than you think. It is your college who organises the bulk of your teaching, so it’s the wealth and contacts they have that often determines what that teaching looks like. It is worth emailing the Director of Studies in your subject at different colleges to see what kind of teaching is provided.
>>> Your choice of college also impacts your application process. Competitive colleges who score higher in the Tompkins Table (which ranks the colleges by academic success) – ie those colleges that are more likely to be richer and have ‘better contacts’ – are much more picky with candidates, and choose those who already show a deep knowledge and natural proficiency towards your subject. Colleges lower down the Tompkins Table are often more nurturing of your individual ability and interest. You can still do very well academically without being at a highly-achieving college.
>>> Sometimes applying to a college is also about strategy – if a college had a high number of applicants over the past few years (this information is publicly available) then they are more likely to be harder to get into.
>>> It is also important to consider how much financial assistance you might need when applying to colleges. Unfortunately if you know that you are in need of financial assistance you are probably not going to want to apply to a ‘poorer’ college. Look at each college’s website to see the kind of bursaries they offer to help you determine whether a college is right for you.

> Pay close attention to course content;
>>> If you are applying to Oxbridge, look carefully at how each year of your course is structured. (If this information is not readily available on either the Cambridge University website or faculty website, you can email the faculty secretary for this information.) This includes which modules are compulsory, which aren’t and how they are examined. It is good to compare how Cambridge and Oxford courses are structured because they tend to be very different and one may suit you much better than the other. If you find that the course you want to choose is lacking, it is probably not worth choosing Oxbridge just for the title. At the end of the day, the uni you choose determines your overall experience just as much as it determines the piece of paper you get at the end of it, and your experience is going to be heavily impacted by how much you enjoy what you are actually studying.

> Student experience;
>>> Cambridge is known for being an intense and rigorous university. Before applying you need to think very carefully about whether this is right for you. In some cases, this may involve sacrificing a social life for your academics.
>>> That being said, you can make Cambridge work for you. The university has a huge number of societies, a decent nightlife and the city is a really lovely environment to live in. Prepare for the societies to be fairly high-level; most societies can be criticised for not being very welcoming to complete beginners. Whether Cambridge is the right fit for you really depends on your attitude towards the university experience as a whole, and what you want to get out of it.

> Your educational background;
>>> It pains me to say but your experience at Cambridge will to an extent be affected by your educational background. If you come from a state comprehensive background, where you are unlikely to have had a very intense workload or a great deal of pressure on yourself, Cambridge will feel very different. You may be thinking that I’m over-exaggerating, but it is worth noting that there’s a huge difference between being really self-motivated at secondary school and sixth form to being dealt a Cambridge workload and being forced to float. I’m not saying this to be discouraging – I’m from a state-comp background and I’m still here after three years – but more to prepare you. Students who come from better educational backgrounds are much more used to juggling harsher work schedules, so their experience will be different. It’s worth asking yourself how much you enjoy working hard, and whether it’s something you want to continue to do for another three/four years.

The Cambridge experience is a very unique one, and this comes with its own challenges, but also many advantages. For those whom a collegiate university is the right fit, and who want to work hard at a subject they enjoy, Cambridge is a place to truly thrive.

Programme: Classics
Degree: Bachelor's
Graduation: 2025
Campus: Cambridge, The United Kingdom
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