The process of choosing a college can be difficult, as well as applying to Cambridge University. The Student Room forum created a pros and cons list for each college based on the student feedback. Below is the best overview of the main Cambridge Colleges pros and cons for every college.
Note: Click on the jump links in Contents for easy navigation through the post.
The pros and cons of every Cambridge College
Christ’s College Pros and Cons
Christ’s college is ranked as number 1 on the Tompkins table for 2022.
- For the duration of your course, you will be provided with great accommodation
- Many grants are given for “cultural nourishment” trips abroad
- Most rooms have an en suite bathroom, and those that don’t have one are generally larger (some even have a mezzanine).
- An incredible atmosphere of friendliness and energy.
- In the next few years, a brand new library will be built for £16 million
- Over the last 20 years, Tompkins and Baxter Tables have placed it third among Cambridge colleges.
- It’s handy for students to store some belongings in out-of-term storage, so they don’t have to drag everything home at the end of every term (good for international students).
- Getting a first gets you a lot of privileges, such as a separate room ballot, free dinners, cheaper rent, invitations to feasts, and a large cash reward.
- There are a lot of famous alumni, such as Charles Darwin and John Milton.
- The nearest club is 30 seconds away, the takeaway is literally 10 metres away, Nandos and Pizza Hut are 1-2 minutes away, the cinema is 2 minutes away, Sainsbury’s is 5 minutes away, and most lecture sites are within walking distance.
- You will be surrounded by the most beautiful gardens in the town
- Renovated outdoor pool – the oldest outdoor pool in Europe (an excellent perk during the summer months even if it isn’t heated!)
- The typewriter building is a significant social advantage, with many first and second years in the same building.
- The closest bar to all the clubs in Cambridge, with a cosy and buzzing atmosphere.
- There is a big theatre (recently renovated) where movies are shown regularly at ridiculously low prices.
- The bar serves Costa Coffee (at a discount from the high street price).
- The college has a fully equipped gym and squash courts, as well as a second college gym in the boat house.
- Ideal size, not too big to feel unwelcome, but large enough to meet lots of new people.
- There are pool tables, table tennis tables, and TVs in the common room
- TSR’s Admissions Tutor is extremely helpful and active.
- As of 2018, only 40.7% of college applicants were female, the 5th lowest ratio in the country.
- In later years, students in the arts and humanities have a difficult time getting good rooms due to Scholar’s ballots.
- A very small library
- The supervisors are very intense when it comes to exams, and are extremely pushy.
- Food is not bad but could be much better for such a college. Often missing healthy vegetables
- Right outside the plodge is the busiest and most congested part of town.
- Small corridors. It can be difficult to get to know more people when there are only four people present.
- The ugly “typewriter” building (although I really like that building! It reminds me of a nest.)
- On the Sidgwick site, the arts faculties are on the wrong side of town (not far, but not as close as many other colleges).
Churchill College Pros and Cons
- There is a window seat in every room. There are large, modern, and light rooms in the hotel. The majority of them have ensuite bathrooms.
- Accommodations are included in all three years of undergraduate study at college
- The New Court was built in 2016 – all rooms have en suite bathrooms and double beds.
- Accommodation costs are not hidden.
- College with the largest on-site playing fields. There are four squash courts and five tennis courts in the gym.
- A very open plan with grass all around, large buildings, and easy access to everything.
- The highest proportion of students studying sciences (70%) compared to arts (30%).
- Very friendly porters
- Good Ents
- Sports teams with strong performances in top divisions (including football, rugby, and netball).
- A pool table, table tennis, piano, and games machines are available in the games room.
- It’s not right in the centre of town, so you get fewer tourists.
- Food – the food is generally perfect. It is self-serve with four different main options and five different kinds of vegetables. There are also some great puddings that aren’t too expensive.
- The price of a bottle of wine is only £6.20
- No library fines
- Despite the low number of female applicants and the college’s bias toward science, the college has the second-lowest gender ratio, 63% male and 37% female.
- The 4th worst college in terms of admitting students from the most disadvantaged backgrounds. The poorest 20% of households account for only 3% of the population.
- Most expensive laundry in Cambridge
- Very expensive bar and formal
- Gender pay gap of 16.8%
- Formal aren’t as formal (you don’t have to wear gowns)
- Considered ugly but not really that bad.
- Strange statues everywhere.
- Named after the controversial former Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill.
- Not popular among international students
- No notable alumni
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Clare College Pros and Cons
- Clare Cellars is a very cool underground college bar and JCR.
- Weekly events with student bands and DJs in the Cellars.
- Memorial Court is a nice fresher community.
- Accommodations for first-year students are located two minutes from the humanities faculty buildings and right next to the University Library.
- Every year, there is a May Ball.
- The environment is really open and welcoming.
- It is one of the strongest colleges for music, with an excellent choir and the only college orchestra playing a term concert at the university.
- Memorial Court has grass where you can walk.
- Cambridge’s College Gardens are among its prettiest
- The river’s position
- Punts owned by the college
- There is a perfect balance between Old Court’s location just outside the town centre and its proximity to it just two minutes away.
- Mixed genders and private/state-educated people.
- It is expensive to use WiFi. Each term costs £33!
- College wine at its most expensive (£12 a bottle!)
- A party fine of £1,205 was split among 5 students at the college, making it the 4th worst for fining students.
- Fines at the library
- The fourth largest gender pay gap among all colleges.
- There are no ovens or freezers in the kitchens.
- Very average, unimaginative food in the canteen and not much choice.
- Accommodation is spread out, so you might live far away from facilities such as the library, buttery, and gym.
- Nobody showed up for an obligatory consent workshop during Fresher’s Week.
- The view from Clare Bridge (the oldest bridge in Cambridge) attracts a fair number of tourists to it.
- They cut down their cute cherry blossom tree.
- Although it’s central, the entrance is not as central as it could be as you have to walk round behind the Senate House, so it often takes longer to get where you’re going.
- Old Court is pretty but relatively small, and you are more likely to live in the less pretty Memorial Court or Clare Colony (which is not on the main site – it’s on Chesterton Road)
- The Library is not as nice as many other Colleges.
- The master got himself embroiled in a big golfing controversy by helping a top British golf club evict its old members and charge a £100,000 fee to rejoin.
Clare Hall Pros and Cons
The Clare Hall accepts only postgraduate students.
- Modern buildings, spacious rooms
- Big kitchens
- The college has owned indoor swimming pool
- Friendly atmosphere
- Very good food
- A very small college, with around 250 students
- Only postgraduate students
- Informal – not traditional Cambridge college
- Not in the town centre
- Despite being very comfortable on the inside, the buildings look unattractive from the outside. Elmside, an old house which is the college’s centrepiece, is an attractive building.
- Everyone knows everyone due to the small number of students
Corpus Christi College Pros and Cons
- 2 minutes from the Science faculties, 7 minutes from Sidgewick (arts site), and 2 minutes from the centre of town with Sainsbury’s and many shops and restaurants.
- Students are given a boost during exam term by librarians hosting library teas in an off-campus room off the library. The new library is spacious, very well stocked, and offers a lot of workspaces.
- It is the second-smallest college after Peterhouse, with approximately 100 students a year. This is a great choice if you want to meet most of your classmates in your year and don’t feel intimidated by the larger colleges.
- For first years, New Court or Library Court are great options, or Botolph or Benet Street are right next to Corpus. The beautiful grounds, cooking facilities, and quiet at Leckhampton have also attracted some first years.
- Many Second years live in Newnham house (38 rooms) opposite Darwin College, or T-street (on Trumpington St opposite engineering) (23 rooms). Both of these are modern, T-Street was renovated in 2013 and is now super nice. This means you get to live together as a year group, so won’t find yourself on a floor full of people you don’t know.
- Third-years live mainly on college sites or in Benet/Botolph.
- Very old, attractive architecture
- Has one of the most comfortable college bars and JCRs in Cambridge, with very friendly bar staff that really make an effort to learn students’ names. Free pool table, table football and table tennis. JCR TV has Sky Sports, Netflix, and a PS3! Great atmosphere during showings of the Six Nations or Bake Off.
- College events run by the Ents officer get very high turnouts compared to other colleges.
- Get the chance to live in Old Court, the oldest court in all of Oxbridge, whose buildings are 600 years old and are the oldest continuously used student accommodation in the world. Despite its age rooms are still of very high quality and very spacious (only Peterhouse’s Dining Hall, the oldest profane building in Europe, is older).
- Large travel grants are available if you travel for academic purposes – £500 is not uncommon. Great for geographers and MMLers, though recently such grants have been offered for less explicitly academic trips too i.e. 2014 trip to Turkey organised by the Dean of Chapel. There are also sports grants and academic scholarships/prizes. The college has a high number of blues for its size.
- Hosts annual Corpus challenge. This is a sporting competition between Corpus Christi and Oxford. Also involves events such as pool and FIFA for those who are not as sporty.
- Large JCR budget – virtually all requests for Sports and Society funding granted.
- JCR runs weekly parties which involve a lot of free food being put in the JCR and gives you a chance to socialise with people in other years as well as your own.
- Practically unlimited internet, with fantastic coverage across all accommodation! (albeit for £25 a term)
- Gaining a reputation as having some of the best quality food around: formals are very high quality, and college hall food is generally better than most colleges – the fish being a particular speciality! Student favourites – like pasta and pizza dishes – have also been increasingly catered for thanks to the work of the 2016/17 JCR Catering Officer. Unlimited carbohydrates for a fixed price in the hall! A catering officer is open to suggestions for hall menus.
- College rents are in the middle of the pack for Cambridge Colleges, which is very good given the beautiful nature of the building and the central location. In recent years room rents have risen approximately the same as inflation.
- The College has two Nobel Laureates. Former Master George Thomson won the 1937 Nobel Prize in Physics for the discovery of the wave properties of the electron by electron diffraction. Alumni Richard Henderson won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for developing cryo-electron microscopy for the high-resolution structure determination of biomolecules in solution. Famous alumni include Christopher Marlowe (English playwright who greatly influenced William Shakespeare), actor Hugh Bonneville (of Downton Abbey fame), Matthew Parker (Archbishop of Canterbury) and Sir Mark Elder (British conductor).
- Owns the Corpus Clock which has become one of the most popular tourist attractions in Cambridge.
- The College has excellent pastoral/tutorial support meaning you are very well looked after, spending amongst the highest per student on student care. Also runs a great college family system so you have a system of support and someone to talk to from the moment you arrive.
- Ranks 4th in terms of the value of Endowment/assets per student.
- Home of the Parker Library, one of the foremost collections of rare books and manuscripts anywhere in the world, including the St Augustine Gospels which are used to swear in the Archbishop of Canterbury.
- Strong academic performances in a number of subjects including, but not limited to Natural Sciences and English.
- Amongst the best sporting facilities of Cambridge College at its own site (Leckhampton) which is only an 8-10 minute walk from College. This includes a fully-equipped gym, squash courts, tennis courts, and football and rugby pitches. In the summer it has arguably the best croquet pitch in Cambridge and an excellent cricket square. Also is one of the very few colleges with an outdoor swimming pool which is great fun in the summer especially when you can use the college’s BBQ. The Men and Women’s rowing teams have the best boats in Cambridge.
- One of the few colleges with a 24-hour student library.
- Pays all of its staff a living wage.
- Some ducks famously nest in the college each year, and when the ducklings hatch the Porters stop traffic on the road to escort them back to the river.
- One of the most extensive outreach programmes across the University. In 2020 more first-year places were created to support students applying from disadvantaged backgrounds.
- Application numbers per place are about average for the University meaning it is not one of the most difficult colleges to get into.
- One of the most environmentally-friendly colleges, winning Gold in the Green Impact Scheme.
- Doctors’ surgery can be accessed through an entrance to the college so very easy to get to any appointments.
- 9th most expensive college to live at.
- Below average for state school access with only 62.1% coming from state schools in 2018.
- Expensive kitchen fixed charge.
- College wine isn’t cheap.
- Not much en suite accommodation available.
- Some students have to live above the Eagle pub, so can be a bit noisy if you leave your window open.
- Some students live in the same staircase as the Trumpington street GP practice.
- Disaffiliated from the Cambridge University Student’s Union.
- Very small: can feel a bit too insular if you are used to large year groups in school.
- Student rent raised dramatically in recent years – although it is still not much higher than the university average. Now is just rising with inflation.
- Some grumpy porters – though, the majority really make you feel at home and are willing to help you with most things.
- The new master was the one who introduced the scholar’s ballot.
- The clock is a tourist magnet, so can be hard to get past.
- Not all accommodations are on the main campus.
Darwin College Pros and Cons
Only for postgraduate students at Cambridge.
- It’s just postgraduate students.
- Beautiful grounds, good river access and lots of punts.
- Excellent location halfway between the city centre and Sidgwick site, so equally ideal for arts/humanities students (don’t be deterred by the name, it isn’t just scientists!)
- Everything operates year-round, rather than being really busy in term time and dead in the vacs – DarBar (the college bar) is busy all the time.
- The fellows and the students eat the same food, therefore it is of an edible/good standard.
- Great accommodation.
- Really pretty! Also on the river.
- Modern hall.
- Nancy Cox went here.
- Famous fellows such as Martin Rees and César Milstein.
- Some accommodation desperately needs modernising.
- Not very imposing though the grounds are attractive, the site is unlike other colleges with courts and quads, a thin strip along the river.
- All colleges have their eccentricities, but they’re pretty odd at Darwin.
- Some unusually strict porters for a graduate college, strict with letting visitors in, especially to the bar.
- The communication during the application process is somewhat *sketchy*.
- Modern hall
- The relatively new college is not really known.
- It’s just postgraduate students.
- Relatively small college.
Downing College Pros and Cons
- Known for amazing accommodation, hotel standard in the first year. Basically, all accommodation is on the main site, so you’ll never be a 25-minute walk away from your library like those at Tit Hall.
- Beautiful paddock
- Very peaceful, despite the fact that it is quite centrally located.
- A couple of minutes away from the centre.
- Very green with big open spaces.
- Off the usual tourist track.
- All accommodation is either on-site or very nearby so even when you’re in a house you can still use all the college facilities.
- Right next to the Downing site and New Museums site (as well as the Chemistry department), so very good for scientists!
- Surrounded by restaurants – Nando’s, Pizza Express, Charlie Chan (only Dim Sum restaurant in central Cambridge), NannaMexico, Pizza Organic, the Varsity Restaurant, Pizza Hut, and Zizzi.
- ‘Spoons is just down the road.
- Parker’s Piece (park) is only 30 seconds across the road.
- Library designed using Golden Ratio.
- John Cleese went there.
- If you want to sue someone, there are so many Lawyers around you’d get a competitive price.
- Sporty college (good results over the past couple of years in rowing, football and rugby)
- CULTC (lawn tennis club) nearby
- I’ll re-emphasise how beautiful the grounds are for added effect.
- Nick Griffin’s Alma Mater. Not sure why this is a pro.
- Very strong for certain subjects e.g. for law the library holds probably the most comprehensive law collection of any college, and Downing’s Cranworth Law Society hosts a wide range of useful events.
- Nick Griffin’s Alma Mater
- Expensive accommodation
- Have to walk back home past Spoons, Novi, and All Bar One, which can be rowdy.
- Food is relatively expensive.
- You can’t walk on some of the grass.
- Library near the bar – there can be noise if you’re working late (esp in summer when windows are open).
- They draw you in with good 1st Year accommodation but it gets worse in later years.
- Wrong side of town for the Sidgwick site / West Cambridge site (faculties) – not actually that far but not as near as many other colleges
Emmanuel College Pros and Cons
- Each room has a mini fridge for you to store all kinds of goodies in!
- 24-hour library.
- Ents in the bar on Wednesdays.
- Does well in the Tompkins table.
- The ducks. =P
- Lots of open spaces and grass to walk or have a picnic on
- Its location: close enough to the shops and the Downing Site (like what’s been said in the prospectus – “a stone’s throw away”), but far enough to hide from the masses of tourists each day.
- The only college to offer a free laundry service in Cambridge, so no need to do your own if laundry isn’t your kind of thing.
- Probably has the cheapest college bar of them all.
- Amazing welfare provision in the summer – bouncy castle, free yoga classes, Thai massages, mug painting on the paddock and the college Wii.
- The college shop, sells stash, stationery, sweets, crisps and drinks all for cheaper than you’d find anywhere in town.
- Graham Chapman went here, as did John Harvard (yes, that Harvard)
- Has a swimming pool
- Among the highest gender ratios – the 2018 cohort was 51.5% female
- 71.9% of UK students in 2018 were from state schools
- On the larger side, lots of opportunities to meet people but not huge like Homerton, John, trinity etc
- Gender pay gap of 10%
- Invests £2.9m in arms companies
- Not really ‘known’ for much
- Quite hit and miss with accommodation
- The College Drinking Society invited members to go out and ‘smash the girls’
- New freshers get thrown into the pond
- You can’t walk on the grass in the frontcourt
- A swimming pool isn’t heated
- Has library fines
- There are very few ovens so self-catering can be difficult
- Drinks in the bar are watered down
- Internet connection cuts out occasionally
- Wrong side of town for the Sidgwick site (arts) / West Cambridge site (Physics) – not actually that far but not as near as many other colleges.
Fitzwilliam College Pros and Cons
- Friendly and supportive atmosphere.
- Excellent theatre and sports facilities: pitches and a tennis court are very close to the college, and squash courts are in the college. Also badminton court. Sports wise has a quite good reputation, with Fitz Football Teams winning all three leagues in 2017, and well represented in almost all sports.
- Some kitchen space in college, so self-catering can be done, all 3rd years and 2nd years have ovens. Most 1st-year accommodation has ovens.
- Truly beautiful gardens. Unlike most colleges, you can walk on some of the grass!
- Lack of pretentiousness – very good state-school statistics.
- Close to the West Cambridge site. Close to Aldi, Iceland and the Coop.
- Out of the way of busy tourist places in the summer – you are never disturbed by people wandering through college aimlessly like in central colleges.
- Reasonably spacious.
- A brand new, very good library with IT rooms and access and lending 24/7.
- Brand new gym, open since September 2015, which college members can use for free – also currently being updated.
- New Boat House on the river with a BC that is well represented at all levels.
- Good access to communal spaces – free pool and table football in the JCR and Wii/Sky Sports in the TV room.
- One of the best cafes in Cambridge – turns into a bar at night. Routinely rated as one of the best value for money.
- Some very modern buildings.
- Can accommodate everyone who wants to be on site for all 3 years, but also has some college houses that are very close to the main site. Also has room for grads. All third years have en-suite bathrooms.
- Half of the first-year accommodation was recently renovated (summer 2015 and 2016) to a very high standard.
- Has a large bi-annual Fitz Up Look Sharp ent which is well-attended by Fitz students, other hill colleges and (some) central colleges.
- Out of the town centre, the quickest route home is uphill, but this forces you to do some exercise in your daily routine
- The architecture of buildings can take some getting used to brutalist Lasdun architecture isn’t everyone’s cup of tea – but it grows on you! But, some of the newer buildings are much more attractive and modern.
- 3rd worst college regarding fining students (e.g. £240 for bringing the college into disrepute)
- There was a snake on the loose
- The remaining old fresher’s accommodation (40% of Freshers) is relatively small with limited kitchen facilities (no oven).
- Food served in the buttery is relatively expensive and can sometimes be hit and miss, but has been improving.
- Friends at other colleges typically want you to go to them rather than them coming to you because they think that you’re too far out (we’re not really!)
- Has library fines
Girton College Pros and Cons
- Indoor heated swimming pool
- Really good college community – because it’s further out people really spend time together and gel
- Not as pushy academically as some of the other colleges, but people still get good grades
- Not pretentious – You can walk on the grass
- The cycle in and out gives you some time to wake up/clear your head after a hard day’s work
- Sports pitches are on-site, including squash and tennis courts.
- Nice gardens
- HM Queen Margaret II went here (the nice lady responsible for all the beautiful woodcuts in Lord of the Rings)
- Accommodation isn’t allocated based on academic performance.
- A 5-minute walk from the co-op.
- The bar serves until midnight and stays open until 1-2 am
- Beautiful college library with one of the most extensive collections of English
- The food is great in the canteen and the student kitchens are among the best (most equipped) of any college
- Furthest college out. Not good if you don’t want a 10-15 minute cycle in the mornings
- Difficult if you have large gaps between lectures as you get stuck in town – not worth cycling back
- So far away from the city centre, it takes over 50 minutes to walk all the way to the centre – almost 2 hours if you want to walk there and back!
- Difficult to persuade friends from other colleges to come and visit – they can’t ‘drop in’ easily
- Accommodation and laundry are relatively expensive
- The library closes at 11 pm (not great if you’d like to use it in the early hours, but computer rooms stay open 24/7).
- Feels a bit like a boarding school.
- Used to be an asylum.
- They are not really known for anything
Gonville and Caius College Pros and Cons
- Very central location right next to Great St. Mary’s Church
- All 1st years live together so it’s very social and you get to know your year group very well, and all rooms are modern/spacious/ensuite (also conveniently located right next to the University Library + Sidgwick site – great for Humanities students!)
- Accommodation in the 2nd and 3rd year within or around the main college site in the centre of town – a good range of rooms allowing you to decide how much rent you want to pay (a decent number of rooms are “sets” – i.e. you get a living room as well as a bedroom)
- Small but beautiful college site. Doesn’t tend to attract many tourists despite its central location: a small haven amongst the bustle of King’s Parade/Trinity Street.
- Stunning, airy library right next to Senate House
- The canteen arrangements (you have to eat together in the hall a certain number of nights per term) mean there’s a strong vibrant community spirit.
- ‘Formal formal’ a few times a term in addition to more relaxed formals 6 nights a week.
- Free internet access and wifi
- Free Laundry
- Pretty great, very ‘Cambridge’ May Ball.
- Free garden party put on in May Week
- Very good if you like rowing (the richest college boat club with its own new boathouse opened in 2016)
- Large undergraduate body so college sports clubs are well-established – one of the stronger colleges for inter-college sports and there are enough people to join you if you only want something more casual
- Availability of generous grants/bursaries for buying books, sports, summer research work and holiday travel
- Friendly and up for a laugh porters.
- Has the nicest and most distinctive gown of all the Colleges (navy with black velvet trim, as opposed to the ubiquitous and dull black everyone else, seems to have). Most expensive gown, but the dining requirement means you get a lot of use out of it!
- Well-rewarded if you get a first in any year: you get priority choice of accommodation, and generous financial awards; Perse feast – you get invited to an 8-course meal complete with whiskey tasting and choir (one invite per person).
- Many notable fellows/alumni: Stephen Hawking, James Chadwick, Francis Crick, John Venn, Kenneth Clarke, and Jimmy Carr.
- Lots of Tories (lots of CUCA members; Kenneth Clark, MP went here)
- Lots of Tories (lots of CUCA members; Kenneth Clark, MP went here)
- The gown actually looks ridiculous sorry
- 3rd the most expensive college to live at
- 10% increase in rent and a 6% increase in food prices
- Gender imbalance 60% male 40% female
- Among the worst colleges for state school access with only 55.9% coming from state schools in 2018 (average 65.2%)
- 2nd the worst college regarding fining students
- Gender pay gap of 8.9%
- Canteen arrangements where you have to eat in the hall 36 times per term
- And the food is pretty bad
- College’s hall received one of the worst hygiene ratings in Cambridge
- No great vegetarian options
- Expensive bar
- Small main college site
- No ovens or freezers in most accommodations, but there are microwaves, kettles, toasters, fridges and hobs.
- Some accommodation in 2nd year is quite far out.
- The college is on several sites, across different roads, which is a shame for bonding and isn’t as conducive to a community feel
Homerton College Pros and Cons
- Voted “friendliest college in Cambridge”
- Cheapest Undergraduate accommodation prices across the university
- The largest college in terms of student numbers, although Trinity is slightly bigger if you count fellows.
- On-site accommodation for everyone. Mostly ensuite. West House (houses all freshers) is all ensuite. Rooms cleaned weekly
- Informal, welcoming atmosphere. We’re allowed to walk on the grass, and the only time when a gown is required is graduation.
- Near to Nandos, The Junction, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Chiquito, Cinema etc only 2-minute walk. Closest college to the station
- Large, modern library well stocked and open 24/7 (with student card)
- The Union of Students (HUS) is one of the most active and has the only full-time sabbatical student President in Cambridge, as well as the only member of employed staff (Office Manager). This means that lots of events are put on and the welfare support provided is brilliant.
- Good sporting clubs – with Football, Ultimate frisbee, Rowing, Rugby, Tennis, Badminton, Cricket, Netball etc (>14 sports) Sports pitch, squash court and Croquet pitch on site. New College Gym
- Strong drama scene – very active drama society within the college (HATS) + well represented in uni-wide societies (ADC, Footlights)
- The Music Society(HCMS) puts on several concerts each term. 6 Music practice rooms and a collection of instruments in the College
- Ethical food policy (locally sourced etc). Staff paid at least living wage + none on zero-hours contracts
- Beautiful main victorian building and the Great Hall is impressive too
- Closest college to the Biomedical campus(inc. Addenbrookes Hospital) and the Education Faculty
- Lots of open green space including some rare trees and plants, including an orchard and playing field on site. Lots of animals including ducklings, deer, rabbits etc. Close to the Cambridge Botanical gardens too
- Lots of buses, easy to get into town
- Hall food is good. Large portions
- The best graduate employment rate of any Cambridge college
- No tourists.
- Pretty chill college. You can walk on the grass.
- The location. 10-minute cycle into town and busy roads on the route.
- Uni4 bus service no longer goes past college, so the only quick way of getting into town is by bicycle.
- Friends from other colleges always want you to visit them in town rather than coming out to Homerton
- People always assume that you were pooled rather than choosing it
- Apart from Junction, no clubs near
- 2nd most expensive formals in Cambridge *however, they do provide wine which most other formals don’t, so actually works out cheaper*
- People always assume that you’re studying Education (even if you’re not)
- Not on the river.
- Pretty chill college. You can walk on the grass.
Hughes Hall Pros and Cons
- Located next to Mill Road, which has an international feel to it with international food stores and the annual Mill Road Fair.
- The pleasant postgraduate atmosphere since is composed of students who are 21+ years. No unnecessary noise and drunk students are a rare sight.
- Leafy ‘campus’ with a garden feel.
- Great accommodation including the stunning Gresham Building which overlooks Fenner’s cricket ground.
- A very informal atmosphere and no need for gowns for matriculation or formals. In fact, the only time you will ever need a gown is when you are attending your graduation.
- Excellent food and includes breakfast, lunch and dinner.
- The formal hall is very informal. There is no high table and one can sit anywhere. You do not need a gown to attend a formal hall.
- The Library is open 24/7 and the librarians are very warm and pleasant. They even provide colouring books and crayons for de-stressing during exam periods.
- Guaranteed free tea and cakes every Sunday at 3 pm, courtesy of the MCR.
- Vibrant sports community ranging from football to rowing.
- Located next to Parkside Pools and gyms, Outlook Gym and Parker’s piece.
- The lovely college cat, Charley aka Hugh.
- Very friendly and casual staff and tutors.
- Largest intake of MBA and PGCE students.
- One of the newer colleges so it is not well known.
- Postgraduate and mature undergrad only
- Located far from other colleges and far from the Sidgwick site for humanities students
Jesus College Pros and Cons
- Slightly off the beaten track so you don’t end up with many tourists – but still a two-minute walk into the very centre of town
- Lots of interesting art and sculpture in the place
- Huge grounds with sports pitches right next to the college
- Third richest College in Cambridge – so lots of grants, bursaries and prizes available for students
- All 3 years of accommodation within the college or on the adjacent roads (Jesus Lane, Park St, Malcolm St)
- Most first-year accommodation is ensuite
- Graduate students can also live within the college or on the adjacent roads for the full length of their course
- Modern, spacious 24hr library
- Free laundry room – with washing machines and tumble driers
- JCR Common room has good TV and pool table
- Very new College Bar (opened in 2017) with a microbrewery
- Does well in sports, especially rugby, football and rowing
- Has the oldest college building in Cambridge; the Chapel dates from the twelfth century
- Very peaceful with lots of green, open spaces
- The boathouse is very close by if you’re a prospective rower – just a 5-minute cycle
- A lot of the college accommodation has been recently renovated so the accommodation is of a very high standard.
- Many famous alumni – including Thomas Cranmer, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Thomas Malthus and Prince Edward! A number of members of Clean Bandit also met at Jesus
- Jesus College Music Society (JCMS) makes Jesus one of the strongest Colleges in Cambridge for music – with an orchestra, unauditioned choir, and a number of other ensembles, there’s a weekly recital series as well as the termly concert. Famous musicians come to play at Jesus every so often too
- One of the top Chapel Choirs in Cambridge. For men, evensong is four times a week: there is also the option to sing both with women and with boy choristers – so is a great option for those who are serious about singing but don’t want the commitment to singing every day as at King’s and John’s. For women, evensong is twice a week – you get to sing with a choir with a great reputation
- Probably the cheapest formal in Cambridge – three courses (wine not included – but it’s BYOB) for just over £7!
- Nearby to Sainsbury’s
- The new Intellectual Forum puts on interesting guest lectures in the new lecture theatre
- One of the best and most popular May Balls in Cambridge
- 6th largest college, 145 students per year – lots of people to get to know, good if you like to be more anonymous.
- Great wildlife around the college. You will find lots of foxes and a variety of birds such as kestrels and woodpeckers. Also plenty of large butterflies.
- Countless notable Cambridge vloggers studied here – ParthG, PaigeY, etc.
- 3rd biggest gender pay gap among all the colleges
- 6th largest college, 145 students per year – not a tight-knit community like the smaller ones, can be overwhelming
- Slight further away from Sidgwick Site (for arts/humanities students) than other colleges but still only a 15-minute walk max.
- Slightly more expensive college bar, but very nice and new!
- Freshers will harass you for tickets to the May Ball
- £40 name change fee for the May Ball ticket!
- Not a good option if you don’t like random sculptures around – some of the modern art can spoil the setting a bit if it’s not to your taste.
- Constant jokes about the name – good if you’re a Christian though!
- Expensive food and high kitchen fixed charge (£175 per term) – although food is generally of a very high quality
King’s College Pros and Cons
- Big lawns
- Beautiful views
- Proper Hogwarts hall
- Accommodation guaranteed for your entire undergraduate degree
- The world-famous chapel houses a world-famous choir, and many many opportunities for students of any faith/no faith to experience it
- High fellow-to-student ratio
- More international students, and fewer privately educated students, than in some other colleges
- Awards for getting a First: a ceremony in the chapel, and a 350 quid gift and dinner (for each year that you get one)
- But: there is no “Scholar’s Ballot”, so you will not be rewarded with better accommodation for doing well in your degree – this is obviously a pro to people who do not do well and a con to those who do
- Travel Grant – the college will literally give you >500 quid to go on holiday, yet somehow people are unaware of it
- Student unions (KCSU for undergrads/KCGS for grads) are very politically active
- Many different sports/clubs/societies to get involved in
- Ents in the bar after formals (i.e. music + dance-floor), usually quite popular
- Bunker: underground music venue, puts events on regularly – beware: the music and the people involved are “edgy”
- King’s Mingle at the end of Michaelmas + Lent, which can be fantastic if you are into the music – being off your nut on MDMA helps
- 24/7 library with some great views out the window seats
- Has an Art Centre with a resident artist who runs classes, and a dark room for photographers
- Very central (but you may not live on the actual site every year)
- On the river: has College-owned punts and kayaks, good riverside spots for a natter and general river fun
- Very musical has a large music library, good support for musicians, a music database to encourage group forming, and a good variety of music and formal/informal music-making
- “Chapel chill-out” with the awesome Chaplain (lad) as well as garden keep fit sessions during exam term
- Decent alumni: Alan Turing, Robert Walpole, Salman Rushdie, John Maynard Keynes, David Baddiel, Ian Forster and Lily Cole
- Good welfare + support system
- Some financial support for international students
- Some of the porters are friendly
- Very popular and highly regarded for HSPS and Economics
- Hosts the King´s Affair, not a May Ball – cheaper than most others, and fancy dress (different theme every year, but routinely interpreted by many as wearing almost nothing at all)
- Two gyms – one with machines (2 treadmills, 2 rowing machines, some dumbells, other stuff too), one for free-weights (more dumbells, two racks, 4 benches, 2 20kg bars, 1 15kg bar, other stuff too) the people who run them are always very friendly and happy to help beginners get started
- Some of the porters (most of the night ones) are not friendly – i.e. will give you a hard time for no reason
- Does not have a “friendly and unpretentious” atmosphere as this page used to say – some people are friendly, others are not, some are pretentious (many try unsuccessfully to disguise it…), some are not
- It can very often seem like the college cares a lot more about making money off of external conferences than student’s welfare
- Not all college is pretty
- Is not “close to everything”, unless by everything you mean Sainsbury’s and a couple of departments – some departments are a decent cycle away
- Non-private does not imply state comprehensive: like every other college, almost everyone here that didn’t go to private school went to a grammar/extremely good state school
- Tourists – they crowd the main entrance on King’s Parade, and when it’s sunny are without exception wandering around the chapel area and back lawn and often into places they shouldn’t be, i.e. student accommodation; hence, most of the college does not have the peaceful, classic Oxbridge college vibe that you are probably imagining
- You can’t walk on the lawns except for special occasions (but if we could, they’d immediately be ruined and look like shit, so…)
- Accommodation is “okay” – many places do not have access to Kitchens; much recent fuss has been kicked up about big increases in rent
- Formals are ridiculously expensive – more than 20 pounds => 30 including wine
- Formals are only once a week and can be difficult to get tickets for – but if you can use a mouse and have a reaction time <5 seconds you should be fine
- Both gyms are pretty grimy and the basement
Lucy Cavendish Pros and Cons
- The supportive atmosphere in an all women’s environment
- Lucy Cavendish is a female college, so you can be friends with plenty of girls and boys at the uni, but you will only live with girls
- All fellows are women and there are no high tables in halls, unlike the other more traditional colleges
- A high proportion of students from ‘ordinary’/working-class backgrounds with varied life experiences
- Enjoys a particularly good reputation for English, HSPS, Linguistics, Medicine, and Veterinary Medicine
- Great atmosphere for students in STEM fields, there is a large community of science students and many tutors and fellows who are currently holding faculty positions in science departments
- Very close to West Cambridge (Department of Veterinary Medicine, Whittle Laboratory, Cavendish Laboratory, British Antarctic Survey, Computer-Aided Design Centre, Schlumberger Cambridge Research, William Gates Building, Roger Needham Building, Schofield Centre, Nanoscale Science Laboratory, Centre for Advanced Photonics and Electronics (CAPE), Centre for the Physics of Medicine, Alan Reece Building, Hauser Forum, Department of Materials Science, University Sports Centre)
- The location is very good for art students- it’s very close to the Sidgwick Site (ten minutes walk) and is also close to some of the ‘big’ colleges, such as St. John’s, Trinity, Magdalene, and Queens. It’s only a short walk into the town centre.
- If mingling with the opposite sex is a problem, St Edmund’s College is literally next door (composed mostly of male students and they host some of the best social events!)
- The college has a Library open 24/7 (the University Library shuts at 7 pm), with friendly librarians who will always help you to get the books you need
- The college has the most helpful porters – nothing is too much trouble for them.
- The college gardens (with loads of benches, tables etc.) are lovely to sit in/study/chat with friends. There is no “sacred grass” so you can really enjoy these gardens.
- The choice at lunchtime: 2 hot main, fresh vegetable potatoes, rice pasta or couscous, Baked Potatoes and fillings, homemade soup, 6 salads, cold main course items, pudding, fresh fruit, yoghurts, biscuits, nuts and dried snacks, fruit juice, smoothies, tea coffee chocolate. Theme suppers on Tuesdays. Take away available for those that cannot make meal times and Grab a bag for those that wish to take lunch with them to lectures. Brunch on Saturday and Sunday Roast.
- The is a gym onsite, which will receive new machines this year
- Lucy Cavendish offers many off-site accommodation options for graduate students at a wide range of prices, some are very cheap for Cambridge standards. All the rooms are really nice, even the cheapest ones, and there are kitchens, living rooms, washing machines, and driers in the building.
- Lucy Cavendish has relatively new accommodation, and really new accommodation (less than one year). Therefore, the rooms are in great condition. Some of the oldest buildings do look really nice but students do experience the problems of living in a building that was originally built in the middle ages.
- Lucy Cavendish is one of the colleges that gives the most funding per student, and it offers plenty of grants for research and research-related travel. It is also one of the colleges with the highest number of Gates scholars.
- On average everyone is pretty young and in their early/mid-twenties, which is not the case in the other mature colleges
- [EU and international students] If you’re unlikely to be able to travel to Cambridge for an interview, no problem! Just let them know and they’ll interview you via skype. They’re extremely flexible, supportive and attentive.
- They offer generous financial support to students from poorer backgrounds.
- From 2021, the college will be accepting both male and female undergraduates of the standard university age, not just mature female students.
- The highest Minimum Meal Charge (MMC) of any college (£399!). This means your university card is arbitrarily pre-loaded with £399 of your precious money at the beginning of the year and you’re forced into spending it at the college canteen. (The argument for the MMC is that it encourages people to eat communally and interact socially, and if only limited numbers ate there it would not be viable to keep it going. It comes out at around £12 per week, which can be spent on any meals or guests.) But the money will be deleted at the end of the year if it is not used up!
- Food is a bit hit and miss and food in the canteen is limited – paying near the 5 quid mark for beans and potatoes isn’t uncommon and ethnic food isn’t often catered for (eg special nights for Indian, Thai food etc). You need to get into the canteen quick as they often run out of food…
- The college bar is often closed
- The college is very small which is good for getting to know everyone, but some people might not like it
- Literally nothing wrong with this one
Magdalene College Pros and Cons
- Cheapest formal in Cambridge but still good food, candlelit, very atmospheric, and held every evening
- Food hall (Ramsay) serves cheap but nice food
- Very friendly and small enough you can know everyone if you want to
- Friendly porters
- Far enough out that there are very few tourists but still 5 mins walk from Sainsbury’s, so fairly central
- Most river frontage of all colleges has a ‘beach’
- Allowed to walk on the grass in the Fellows’ Garden, with beautiful flowers and an inspiring place to revise!
- College-owned punts for undergraduate and graduate students
- Music practice rooms that anyone can use
- Two college gyms (cardio and weights)
- The only (compulsorily) white-tie May Ball, but see “con” below
- Eton fives court – this is the only college fives court in Cambridge; there are three more in the Sports Centre though
- Monty Don went here
- Accommodation all on or around the main site (across Magdalene Street or Chesterton Road), ‘village’ atmosphere
- Charges for WiFi
- Last to accept women in 1988 (was protested by men wearing black armbands)
- May Ball tickets and hiring white tie outfit very expensive (most expensive in Cambridge), and only held once every 2 years, but attendance not compulsory
- Buildings like Benson O are truly ugly
- Very expensive kitchen fixed charge
- JCR web page is very rarely updated
- Balloting site missing a large amount of basic information
- The proposed construction of the new library will require the demolition of a large stretch of greenery
- President-elect resigned after trying to manipulate the results of the JCR elections
- Has library fines
- You get a lot of tourists on the Magdalene Bridge
Murray Edwards Pros and Cons
- Not an insular college – people know a lot of people from other colleges.
- Community with the hill colleges – Fitz and Churchill. They share a lot of ents together.
- Relaxed atmosphere – gowns are not compulsory for formal and you can walk on whatever grass you like.
- The largest collection of Women’s Art in Europe, and second in the world! These are different from the classical paintings the older colleges get. They definitely give the college a fresher feel. There are also regular exhibitions to which students are free to go.
- The girls here are absolutely lovely and really supportive. They are not overly-competitive, so it makes studying a lot more enjoyable.
- Different architecture
- Really good, modern accommodation – you can generally get an en-suite every year if you want, all first years get en-suites and large, spacious rooms. Buckingham House has amazing, hotel-standard accommodation with huge kitchens
- Sports grounds on site
- Easy to get to a lot of the main sites – West Cambridge, Sidgwick, Downing, New Museums
- Good pastoral support – something that is seriously lacking in some other colleges
- Amazing and very popular Saturday Brunch
- Generally very good catering facilities – all first-year accommodation has an (admittedly fairly small) kitchen with all the essentials (hob, oven, microwave, cupboard each, rather a small fridge, etc.) and all second-year accommodation comes with decent kitchens too – the more modern accommodation blocks have very large kitchens with ovens etc., and most of the kitchens in the old block have been refurbished to a really high standard (although they don’t always have ovens, generally this isn’t an issue as most students just use the hob anyway)
- Get fit cycling uphill to get there!
- Gap year bursaries
- Generous scholarship essay examples for receiving a 1st in any Tripos exam
- A friendly, supportive space for female students and academics – a lot of emphases is placed on challenging stereotypes about women
- Gateway programme – a series of careers and academic workshops aimed to help you make the most of your time at Cambridge and think about your future, as well as teaching you how to tackle exams etc. These workshops are all free to attend and generally come with free cake, and you earn ‘Gateway Credits’ – if you get 100 credits (not particularly challenging, usually it’s about 20 credits a session) you can apply for Gateway Challenges Funding towards summer projects/ travels etc.
- The misconception that people from girls’ colleges are not as intelligent as people from mixed colleges – probably because of Con 2 below.
- ~90% of people there were pooled and didn’t pick it as a first choice
- Different architecture – the modern, white and grey brick buildings are not to everyone’s taste.
- You have to cycle uphill to get there.
- Overpriced accommodation – not much of a range in price between the luxury en-suites and small single rooms in the old block. However, there is the option to share a ‘split double’ room which is significantly cheaper
- Pretty expensive for things like food (~£3-4 a meal, £11.50 for formals), wine (£7.50), laundry (£3), Wifi (£24.53) etc.
- Highest kitchen fixed charge (£200)
- No dinner is served on Saturdays – can sometimes get a bit crowded with everyone trying to cook in the kitchens. Mind you, at least we have decent kitchens…
- Quite a long way from South Cambridge sites – e.g. the Lensfield Road Chemistry Department is a 15-minute cycle ride away
Newnham College Pros and Cons
- Opposite the Sidgwick Site (where most of the Arts faculties are)
- Stunning (old) buildings with beautiful, large gardens in which you are allowed to walk (sit, picnic) on the grass
- New attractive accommodation opened October 2018 with 80 double bed en suite rooms and insanely good kitchens – if you choose one of these in the third year you are pretty much guaranteed to get it
- Rent is all inclusive (apart from catering which is separate) so no nasty extra charges for wifi or gym membership or electricity
- All student kitchens have ovens
- The JCR student committee are a lot more active and efficient than most – successfully bargained with a college for a reverse on a planned rent increase, introduction of standardised rent bursaries and improvements to kitchens and bathrooms in Lent 2019 – people here genuinely care about their role not just doing it ‘for their CV’
- Medium-sized (~120 per year) small enough to have a sense of community, big enough to avoid someone you dislike
- The new building also has a new cafe/bar which is very well used, and a rooftop garden open to students
- A new glass-walled gym is also on the roof
- This nice new building means the college won’t be doing any major building work for the foreseeable future – check carefully at others because living in college while building or restoration happens is loud and disruptive (this year at least kings, Peterhouse and Sidney Sussex had major renovations, maybe others)
- The second longest corridor in Europe – great when raining, can get almost anywhere in college without going outside
- Beautiful library, one of the best-stocked college libraries as a legacy of when women were prohibited from using the university library
- Accommodation on site all three years which means you can get to know people in the other years really well. (Most other colleges move people in 2nd year out to college-owned houses or have off-college site accommodation blocks for freshers/2nd years – e.g. Clare/Caius/Catz/Trin etc)
- 11th richest college so generous with bursaries and grants (will give you money to go on holiday)
- Student bedrooms are allocated by random ballot (as opposed to one based on grades in exams – Scholars’ ballots) so that in your third year you are guaranteed a beautiful room usually with a sofa or armchairs and a garden view
- All sports grounds on site, netball and tennis courts
- A friendly atmosphere, rather than one which is based wholly on the attainment of firsts and thus encourages students to live in the library (*not* an exaggeration – at Christ’s the library has showers…)
- Buttery food is relatively cheap (£2.40 for main, 70p for sides) and there is always a vegetarian and a vegan option as well as meat and fish
- All female fellowship – you’re likely to be taught by outstanding women
- The proud history of women’s education and suffrage
- No tourists
- Emma Thompson went here
- Sylvia Plath went here
- Labour MP Rupa Huq went here.
- Female sports teams aren’t sidelined like in some other colleges, so teams get more support/funding than they sometimes do elsewhere – our first boat is currently the best on the river in rowing and we have second and third teams and lots of opportunities to take up rowing for the first time if that interests you
- All rooms cost the same so you don’t end up with the richest students living together in the ‘nice bit’ like at other colleges – and students on the Cambridge bursary get an additional £20 a week rent discount
- No bedders – you get to keep your privacy in your room while kitchens and shared bathrooms are cleaned daily.
- One of the only colleges to be founded as secular – none of the weird cultural Christianity of a chapel and such, but we have equal access to Selwyn chapel across the road, can sing in their choir and their chaplain also has an office here, we also have a non-denominational prayer room
- The number of direct applicants increasing each year so beginning to lose its reputation as having lots of people pooled here
- Garden party or June event each year instead of a may ball – much cheaper (~£30-40 instead of £125+), still fun and fancy party with unlimited drink, and you don’t get kicked out of your accommodation for a night like at a few colleges with a big may ball.
- Some cats often come into college, so despite not officially having a college pet, they do have cats.
- 5th most expensive college to live at (though generous with bursaries)
- Has library fines (very easy to just keep renewing books though)
- A ten-minute walk from the centre of town
- Constant jokes about single-sex colleges.
- Fines students pretty heavily for not cleaning their room or not signing out at the end of the term
- Wifi can be poor in some rooms
- The cafe is always full of random arts students from the Sidgwick site so can be hard to get a seat at busy times
- Lack of bedders means you have to take your own bins out from your room
- Formal Hall only once a week
- Lack of a suitably large JCR room to socialise/chill (although buttery and cafe can sometimes fill this purpose)
- For a few subjects (notably comp sci) your supervisor/director of studies is based at another college which can be inconvenient
- No nice pretty chapel
- No May Ball (see above)
Pembroke College Pros and Cons
- The food is some of the nicest (and cheapest) in Cambridge
- Was voted as the college that students across the uni would most want to be at (excluding their own obviously) in 2018
- Oldest bowling green in use in existence in Europe
- The holy grail that is Pembroke Brunch
- As a scientist: close to all the lecture theatres
- As an art student: one of the best colleges in terms of reputation and supervisors, produces many starred firsts
- Very central – easy to get anywhere, and there are lots of side entrances which means you don’t always have to go through the Porters’ Lodge
- Some of the friendliest porters you will ever meet
- Has a really friendly vibe and community among the students as well
- 3rd oldest college – has a strong reputation outside of the university
- Accommodation for all 3 years (plus another 3 years if a clinical medical student)
- Has travel grants and book grants ever year for students
- Has research grants for summer work for students
- Prof. Ken Smith (Prof of Medicine at Addenbrooke’s hospital) is a fantastic contact to have as a clinical medic (he is your Director of Studies)
- Can play croquet on green (during summer term)
- Very good size for a college – usually about 130-140 undergrads
- Very quiet during exam term, which is a bonus for concentration!
- 5th highest percentage of female students in 2018 (excluding women colleges), 51.2% female
- Very strong academic performance (2nd in 2013,2014 and 2018 – consistently near the top), without being a massive hot-house. You are still encouraged to do other things.
- Pembroke Players (the drama soc) has one of the best reputations for student theatre
- Very few tourists, slightly off the beaten track even though v central – a tranquil atmosphere
- Tom Hiddleston went here
- Smoking is no longer permitted in accommodation from 2015/16 onwards
- Henry Moore’s sculpture outside the main residential building
- Food prices are reasonable (£1 for any side dish, around £3 for main courses)
- Formal hall is available every night, so the choice is always there and fits easily around your schedule
- Very pretty gardens (with exotic plants – not just square pieces of lawn)
- Has many courts and little pathways/archways in the gardens which makes it feel more homely
- Has pretty buildings like the library or Ivy Court
- Former Master Richard Dearlove was previously head of MI6
- Strong sports teams, especially in rowing/rugby
- Very good reputation for English Lit/Medic students, and there are famous alumni like Ted Hughes or Edmund Spenser
- Most environmentally-friendly college (2019/2020)
- Onsite kitchens get microwaves and hobs (but no ovens)
- Most offsite accommodation is really close to the college (eg. Fitz Street)
- Beautiful Chapel, designed by Christopher Wren
- There are ghosts in Ivy Court
- There are ghosts in Ivy Court
- £180 noise violation fine/£70 fine for setting off the fire alarm – large fines can happen
- No en-suite rooms for first years (although you do get a sink in your room)
- Insufficient heating in many rooms on the main site in student accommodation
- Gender pay gap of 11.3%
- Scholar’s ballot makes it difficult for arts and humanities students to get good rooms in later years
- Most expensive pint in Cambridge
- Spent £6500 of public money for a DESK
- Brunch prices increased dramatically
- Food portions can be quite small
- Bizarre looking sculpture in the middle of a court
- Some accommodation is not central (e.g. on Barton road) – you may end up a long way from the pretty college site
- Overzealous bedders
- Supervisors are very VERY keen and will keep you on your toes
- The atmosphere can be intense and the library gets very crowded
- Unlikely to be on the main site in the second year. Second and third-year accommodation isn’t central – could end up far away from the college site – and is a bit old and tatty
- Not that many famous alumni compared to other old colleges
- Doesn’t have an impressive main entrance – you can almost walk past without noticing it
- Not on the river
- A Pembroke student tried to burn a £20 note in front of a homeless person
Peterhouse Pros and Cons
- Has a proper tiered theatre
- Looks really pretty
- Incredibly atmospheric, dark & candlelit hall
- Lots of tradition. Frequent and excellent formal dinners (subject and society based), and other social quirks, like tri-termly Dean’s Port evenings and weekly Dean’s tea (obscene amounts of free cake) during exam term
- Obscenely rich (somewhere around £500,000 per undergraduate in endowments—the third richest college per head, after Trinity and John’s). Lots of study & travel grants and generous awards/prizes
- One of the nicest libraries in Cambridge with 65,000+ books: like everything in Peterhouse, “small and perfectly formed”
- Close to sciences and engineering departments, and about 10 mins walk to Sidgwick (arts) Site.
- Central and convenient
- But at the same time that little bit too far away from King’s for that many tourists to bother visiting
- Great Deer Park that you can walk on (NB: no actual deer)
- Excellent accommodation (and rooms are a max 4-minute walk away from the college site, if not on the site itself). Huge range of prices and sizes to choose from, from about £550 (the cheapest room in Cambridge, I think?) to £1,700 a term. Most bunch in the middle, and you can get a spacious seventeenth-century room in Old Court (with old wood beams etc) for £1050 a term (in 2016).
- The hall is the oldest secular building in Europe still used for its original purpose
- The oldest college, which is quite cool I suppose
- Croquet equipment may be loaned out
- VERY helpful Admissions Department
- The only college that has a points-based (for participation in College/uni life, also for exam results) room ballot – students are rewarded for more than just studying
- Third years have the option of living in Old Court—right in College
- The smallest college, so all of your year (plus Master, Dean, and porters) will know you by name. Also means a lot of mingling between year groups (comes in useful for subject help), and even between undergrads and postgrads.
- David Mitchell studied there.
- Gender imbalance is 56% male and 44% female (though not far from the average for mixed colleges and is in line with the gender ratio of Peterhouse applicants)
- The formal hall food is not that great (on the plus side, the formal hall is on every night)
- Expensive food
- Minimum spend in Hall – have to spend £100 in Hall every term
- One of the highest kitchens fixed charges in Cambridge (£170 per term)
- Room points system means the best rooms go to those in lots of societies
- Has library fines
- The smallest college, so all of your year (plus Master, Dean, and porters) will know you by name; the skeletons in your closet will be set out for all to see
- (Possibly) too much tradition, so a bit stuffy. Difficult to get things done. Explains why its mascot is the dodo
- William Stone Building is a horrible-looking 60’s accommodation tower. But it has nice views + en suites. The tallest undergraduate accommodation in Cambridge!
- Slightly stuffy reputation
Queens’ College Pros and Cons
- 3 years of accommodation on site is guaranteed, which means you can get to know people in the other years really well. (Most other colleges move people in 2nd year out to college-owned houses or have off-college site accommodation blocks for freshers/2nd years – e.g. Clare/Caius/Catz/Trin etc)
- 5th biggest, ~150-160 a year.
- Renowned for being one of the friendliest and most sociable colleges in Cambridge.
- First Oxbridge College pays employees a living wage.
- Great location (centre of town and close to lectures for pretty much all subjects.)
- Not garaged by tourists like others nearby.
- Super nice and friendly porters
- Some beautiful old buildings and the mathematical bridge.
- Quality, cheap formals and brunch. (Brunch is £2.60 for 8 pieces as of 2017)
- Stephen Fry studied here.
- Vlogger Jake Wright studied here.
- Arts students: very near Sidgwick site arts faculties
- Great for extracurriculars, Magsoc (music society) performs regularly at West Road Concert Hall, and all three football teams were promoted in 2015 for example.
- Active QEnts society which hosts 5 bops a term in Lent and Michaelmas + film screenings + an evening garden party in May Week called Bounce
- No Kitchen Fixed Charge or compulsory number of formals per term
- Good size bar with pool tables, TVs and a dartboard
- There are 3 squash courts on the main site
- 4th most expensive college to live at. They monitor your energy usage unlike other colleges (Accom ranges from £1050 a term to ~£1800 mainly dependent on whether the room’s ensuite or not)
- Some kitchens are very small, very few have freezers and none have ovens unlike some other colleges (Newnham/Medwards/Fitz)
- Expensive laundry compared to other colleges (£1.40 for a wash)
- 5th worst college regarding admitting students from the most disadvantaged backgrounds. Only 3.3% come from the poorest 20% of households
- 5th biggest, ~150-160 a year.
- Ballot changes mean you can no longer select other people to a ballot with, meaning that you can’t be assured of living with your friends
- The changes to the room ballot also mean you could come last out of all ~300 students balloting in both first and second year
- The Dean blackmailed the JCR in the name of welfare because of the ballot
- Has library fines
- Bops cancelled for a term after someone vomit-stained stonework in Cripps in 2015 (Bops have been safe as of 2017)
- Cripps building is ugly
- Some accommodation is shared walkthrough sets of rooms – one person has to walk through the other person’s room to get to theirs.
- Natural Sciences Director of Studies sent 1st years an email telling them they are not allowed to have “what they regard as ‘a good time’”, that “ALL of [they’re] attention” needs to be given to the subject as it requires “[their] FULL brain capacity (and for a large fraction of you, even that will not be quite enough)”
- Lots of tourists on Silver Street looking at the mathematical bridge
- Don’t choose them if you’re already at uni, whether in the UK or elsewhere, and are studying the same (or a very similar) subject to the one you’re applying for.
- College sometimes seem to prefer hosting conferences than acting within the interest of the undergraduate student body
- Rubbish JCR room (but good bar makes up for this)
- Very small gym
- That bloody apostrophe (Queen’s/Queens/Queens’/Quee’ns)
Robinson College Pros and Cons
- Modern, comfortable building with plenty of heating and guaranteed accommodation for all 3 years on site.
- In the main college block, there’s a maximum of 3 people per bathroom, although almost all rooms have 2 or fewer per bathroom and many rooms are en-suite (more toilets per undergraduate than any other college).
- There’s a kettle in every bedroom.
- Relaxed atmosphere (you can walk on the grass!) and the gardens are extremely nice in summer.
- Pleasant, quiet location in nice surroundings well away from the tourists.
- Nearest college to the University Library and CURTC (uni tennis club) at Burrells Walk.
- Close to the university astroturf (hockey) and athletics track, as well at the university rugby pitch. Free-to-use squash courts literally 1 minute walk from the porter’s lodge.
- Closest college to the West Cambridge Uni Gym ( ~5-6min cycle) & Cavendish labs
- 5 min walk/ 2min cycle to Sidgewick site (Lots of humanities lectures + ~half medicine lectures here)
- Lots of socialising between years, which doesn’t happen at all colleges.
- Excellent canteen and formal food (Joint best with Pembroke a few years ago)
- Bops every Friday
- Cool porters.
- Comfortable JCR and newly refurbished TV Room with TV and video games
- Free films in the Auditorium every Wednesday.
- No tourists
- Robert Webb went here
- Nick Clegg studied here
- 2nd most expensive college to live at
- 3rd worst gender imbalance – only 37.6% female in 2018
- Worst college regarding state school access with only 41.3% of uk students coming from state schools in 2018 (average is 62.5%)
- Worst college regarding admitting students from the most disadvantaged backgrounds. Only 1.8% come from the bottom 20% of households
- 2nd biggest gender pay gap among all the colleges
- The most recently built college, Robinson’s plainish brick castle look can put off those who prefer more traditional architecture.
- Shots banned at bops
- Not for people who don’t like red brick
- College doesn’t have much money so you don’t get luxuries like college-owned punts, a proper gym or much in the way of bursaries.
- Because of the modern facilities and college’s skintness, rents are expensive.
- No cash machines or shops nearby
- Relatively far away from the action, really. ~15-minute walk to the centre of town/ 7-8 min science
- Nick Clegg studied here
St Catharine’s College Pros and Cons
- Amazing accommodation at lower than average rents, guaranteed for the duration of your course
- Some rooms have staircases and pianos!
- Some rooms have a mini fridge for you to store all kinds of goodies in!
- Some rooms have whiteboards to assist with your work
- First-year accommodation is incredibly spacious
- Second-year accommodation is said to be one of the best in Cambridge: big, modern rooms in flats of 4 or 5 with proper kitchens (ovens, freezers which you don’t get at most other colleges) rather than college gyp rooms, plus it is right next to Sidgwick Site so extremely useful if you study Law, English, History, Economics, Languages, Philosophy or Music & don’t like getting up too early in the morning
- Large plans to renovate Main Hall, JCR, and much of the older accommodation as well as the building of the third library underneath the main court
- Cheapest college in Cambridge concerning living costs according to the Tab
- Recently received a £25m donation for fully funded scholarships, and bursaries
- Up to £1000 on top of the Cambridge bursary plus up to £5000 for overseas students & even £100 – £200 if you achieve a First
- Generous with travel grants and sports bursaries
- Assets of over £150,000 per student
- Waived rent but still paid bursaries during the coronavirus lockdown
- Has a rep for being one of the most social, friendly and relaxed colleges
- Goldilocks size. Roughly 130 students per year. Not too big to feel unknown, still large enough to meet lots of new people
- Exactly 50:50 split of genders, perfect balance of private/state educated & Home/EU + International students who are all welcome
- Really helpful porters
- Had 3 of the 11 Cambridge students in the Tab’s top 100 women watch
- The Master has a very cute dog which you can sign up to take for a walk
- Very good food with a wide variety of meat and vegetarian options and only college with a cheese course for formals
- A lot of vegetarian & vegan options at the hall
- Formal has improved massively after they got the Michelin Star chef from St Edmund’s!
- The main college site is very central & one of the best locations in Cambridge. 2 min a ride from Sainsbury’s, Nando’s, Pizza Hut, Downing (Science) site; 3 mins from the Sedgwick (Arts & Humanities) site
- Closest college to Varsity’s HQ (the student newspaper) so great if you’re a budding journalist
- Has a Careers Dinner to help students secure spring weeks and internships
- Ridiculously cheap Garden Parties and May Balls so everyone can afford to go!
- 2nd the best bar in Cambridge. Awesome air-conditioning. Can play on the Xbox One, Pool or Table football
- Came 1st overall in medicine
- Came 2nd overall in economics
- One of the best colleges for NatSci – particularly for chemistry largely due to the efforts of world-famous Dr Wothers
- Unusual in that you tend to get fellows supervising you instead of PhD students in 1st-year subjects such as NatSci
- Engineering fellow Dr Jenni Sidey is an astronaut for the Canadian Space Agency
- Many opportunities for free food such as Smoothie Soc, Movie Night, Welfare tea, coffee & pizza 😉
- Does well in the Student Switch Off campaign winning 100s of tubs of Ben & Jerry’s for the college
- Free tampons!
- Officially named the sportiest college in the Tab with the most sporting Blues per head
- Great sporting atmosphere. Always has one of the biggest turnouts at sports matches!
- Excellent hockey teams – with its own all-weather AstroTurf. Completed a Cuppers Treble winning the Men’s, Women’s and Mixed finals
- Superb sports facilities including extensive playing fields; squash, badminton & tennis courts; a gym; and a renovated boathouse
- Has the most Mental Health (Student Minds) reps of any college
- College FIFA tournament!
- Great internet coverage. It even connects outside the college
- Catz has a brand new JCR with a new sound system and PS4!
- Free and well-equipped gym
- New McGrath Centre also has practice studios for musicians & new auditorium for events
- Very secure underground bike shed so they’re less likely to be stolen
- One of the only colleges with 2 libraries
- Both are 24hr libraries
- If the library doesn’t have a book you need you can request it and they sometimes have it delivered within 24 hrs!
- No library fines
- Sherlock library is one of the prettiest old libraries in Cambridge
- First college to fly a flag to celebrate Black History Month
- Housed women and children escaping domestic abuse during the coronavirus lockdown
- Once a year when the ducklings hatch in spring, the college especially opens its gates to allow them to pass to the river
- Does a lot for Lower 6th including Medicine masterclasses in June & the C3L6
- First Fairtrade college in Cambridge
- 1 of 3 colleges to pay ALL workers the living wage
- Only colleges where black students had the same admissions rates as white students according to the FoI data published in the Guardian
- Has Mendeleev’s first Periodic Table in existence
- First college to implement degendered dress code for formal dinners
- Was the only Oxbridge college to have a girls’ choir (Merton College, Oxford have one now)
- Jeremy Paxman (University Challenge), Richard Ayoade (comedian), Tim Waterstone (founder of Waterstones), David Harding (billionaire founder of Winton Group), John Addenbrooke (teaching hospital in Cambridge), Rebecca Hall (actress), Ben Miller (comedian), Rona Fairhead (Minister of State at the Department for International Trade), Amanda Staveley (organised purchase of Man City in 2008), Peter Boizot (founder of PizzaExpress) & the guy who gave Jeremy Corbyn a pringle all went here
- Olympic rowing Gold medalist, George Nash, read Engineering here
- The Master, Professor Sir Mark Welland, was part of the team that developed one of the first scanning tunnelling microscopes with IBM
- Gandalf (Sir Ian McKellen) studied here
- The rooms can get a bit hot during summer
- Architecture is a mix of styles making it look less impressive than nearby old colleges
- The dining hall is pine-panelled, not as impressive as those in many of the older colleges (although there are also plans to renovate it)
- The lawn could be smoother or more closely cut
- Smaller than other colleges but it means you get to know everyone better
- Not as many famous alumni as some colleges
- The crest is not that interesting. Just a wheel
- Can’t walk on the grass until the end of the year or you’re walking with a fellow 😉
- The chapel and choir aren’t as big as other colleges
- People always misspell the name
St Edmund’s College Pros and Cons
- Mature, laid-back atmosphere – students and fellows
- Next to the curry-mile
- Known for being a very social college- hosts some of the best social events (Halloween, Oktoberfest- loads of people turn up so go to those!)
- Large choice of en-suite, modern accommodation
- Excellent sporting tradition
- Very diverse international student body with a good proportion of British students
- It’s not the wealthiest college, but they appear to subsidise students well- all mature undergrads get an automatic £1,000 Santander Award and a £400 Access to Learning Start-Up Grant (see their website, both awards are non-repayable)
- Nobody ever knows where it is as its location is ‘hidden’ despite being quite close to the centre of town
- Lack of heavyweight academic reputation
- As with other less well-off colleges, accommodation and food is expensive
- Quite a high proportion of male students, mostly studying the sciences.
St John’s College Pros and Cons
- Most supervisions are in college because we have so many fellows
- 24-hour library (with a groovy basement and some seats have amazing views of the Master’s garden)
- Best of both worlds: entrance is located in the old town, but it spans all the way to the Backs
- Second richest college after Trinity College: lots of bursaries and grants, for example:
- The Learning and Research Grant will subsidise 50% of books etc. (anything course-related, including computers!) up to £300 (£500/year for postgrads)
- A variety of Travel Grants.
- Studentship scheme, offering up to £6500 per year to students with low household incomes
- Cheap (in relation to restaurants etc), decent food in the buttery (http://johnsbuttery.soc.srcf.net) – lots of ingenious potato options
- Sporty – very good for rugby, the sports pitches are right next to the college (unlike most colleges) and it’s one of only two colleges with their own astroturf pitch!
- Great facilities (huge sports grounds) and standards of rooms – can stay in college for 3 years. It’s rich.
- College-owned punts
- Free laundry!
- Great chaplain and chapel
- World-famous choir and great music scene (lots of concerts going on in the Master’s Lodge, Divinity School, etc.)
- AMAZING bar! Very cheap prices and definitely one of the better college bars in Cam
- Amazing formal hall. Lots of people want swaps here! £10 for three courses plus wine, £6.50 without wine
- Lots of “special” Halls, like Harry Potter Superhall, Chinese New Year Superhall, etc.
- “Professor” Jimmy Edwards studied here
- Has a community service’ scheme instead of fines for misdemeanours
- Dedicated prayer room in D staircase, Cripps
- One of the biggest and best may balls
- Get your room for the full nine months so don’t have to move everything out over Christmas and Easter and can stay easily if you want to
- There are lots of really cute squirrels on the backs
- There’s a brook that runs through the back of college that often has ducks, swans, and herons on it, which can be seen from some of the Cripps rooms
- Gender imbalance 57% male 43% female
- Bit of a lad culture
- Some second year accommodation is shared walkthrough sets of rooms – one person has to walk through the other person’s room to get to theirs, complete lack of privacy.
- Large student body means not very much of a community feel
- Among the worst colleges for state school access with 56.3% coming from state schools in 2018 (average for Cambridge 65.2%)
- Banded rent means the richer students get nicer room; not a great look for a college with access issues
- Food is overpriced in comparison to some other colleges
- Bar is nice but not really big enough for the whole college
- Has library fines – 50p per day overdue
- Scholar’s ballot makes it difficult for arts and humanities students to get good rooms in later years
- Cripps (the post-modern building at the back of the College) is either ‘ugly’ or ‘the most beautiful building to come out of the 1960’s – most people say ugly. But if you live in it you tend to get over this and become quite fond of it, and most colleges have an ugly building.
- Inconveniently large. Takes forever to get from one side of college to another. (Only really an issue if carrying laundry, or if it’s raining)
- Has a reputation for being very posh. All the students say “I’d rather be at Oxford than St John’s”. This reputation is the bad thing, the reality is (usually) better.
- Has a community service’ scheme instead of fines for misdemeanours
- Lots of tourists
- It’s next door to Trinity
- One of the biggest and most expensive may balls – if you don’t want to go or can’t afford to the ball is just very disruptive and means you either have to be in your room by 5pm and not leave again, or you have to stay somewhere else overnight
Selwyn College Pros and Cons
- Very friendly college, not too big or too small with a great sense of community (~120 per year)
- Really high percentage of state school students – 74.7% in 2019/20 – and the Master’s really keen to improve this
- Friendly porters, chaplain and college staff – the Master is also an absolute legend
- Has Yoyo and Isla, the “very large cats” (aka dogs) who sometimes appears at events with the Master, or at outdoor supervisions in summer
Surroundings and location
- Beautiful buildings in Old Court, with a gorgeous Hogwarts-esque hall and a chapel that’s like a mini-King’s
- Really pretty gardens and trees which blossom in spring, and you can walk on all the grass except in Old Court. You can always hear the birds singing, it’s really peaceful
- Next to the Music Faculty and West Road Concert Hall (enjoy world-class concerts at night and free Lunchtime Concerts!)
- Closer than most colleges to the West Cambridge Site (for scientists) and the Centre for Mathematical Sciences
- Next door to the Sidgwick Site (where most of the Arts faculties and libraries are) – you can roll out of bed at the last minute for lectures, and there’s a huge array of libraries that are basically close enough to be the college library
- Being out of town means there’s barely any tourists – it’s a nice retreat, especially in summer when there’s tons of tourists in town
Facilities and accommodation
- We’re getting a new college library and auditorium in December 2020, while the current one has a variety of study spaces and some interesting exhibitions throughout the year
- Nice accommodation – Cripps for first years is newly refurbished and all ensuite, Ann’s for second years was built in 2009 (also all ensuite) and Old Court for third years is being refurbished, with a mixture of rooms with shared bathrooms, sets (a bedroom and a living room) and even ensuite sets!
- Accommodation is decided in a random ballot (reversed in third year so you’ll never be at the bottom two years in a row – no special rooms for firsts) and you can group with friends to choose rooms together
- Everyone is housed onsite so you’re never far from your friends even if you don’t live together
- Wide variety of prices for accommodation on the same floor – if you need a cheaper room than your friends you can still live with them
- Decent kitchens with hobs and big fridges – kitchens in the houses have ovens
- Newly refurbished cafe/bar and servery
- Self service sides in hall = huge portions
- We have a great brunch on Saturday and Sunday mornings – ridiculously cheap and has all sorts of delicious food from a cooked breakfast to pancakes and waffles
- Hall does takeaway containers so you can eat meals in the gardens in summer, or you can take your own plate to be less wasteful
- Free WiFi (unless you go over 10GB per day, which most people don’t)
Clubs, societies and events
- Free pool table, table tennis and football table in the JCR – we also have a competitive table tennis team who won the league this year (2017/18)
- The Boat Club is vibrant and friendly and has a fantastic modern boathouse shared with King’s and Churchill – we might not be the best on the river but we have a good time!
- Has a yearly Snowball in December and a May Ball every other year
- Hugh Laurie studied here, as did Tom Hollander!
- Sophie Wilson, the creator of the Acorn micro-computer who also contributed to the ARM micro-processor that’s found in over half of today’s consumer electronics, as well as the Firepath processor that supports broadband infrastructure worldwide
- Our gowns are distinctive and pretty – black with blue trim
- Does well academically (8th on the Tompkins table (1st in 2008!)) without being an academic pressure cooker
- Gryffindor colours! We have the BEST college scarf
- First years get a free dinner in the Master’s Lodge
- You can get travel grants for most summer trips
- Runs an enhanced bursary scheme on top of the Cambridge Bursary
- There’s events each year for parents, which is quite nice for them
- Quite expensive to live at, especially in first year where there’s not much choice on accommodation
- Quite a poor college (by Cambridge standards) so there aren’t a huge amount of scholarships and awards compared to the richer colleges
- Expensive food – usually around £2.70 for a main but that doesn’t include potatoes/rice or vegetables, although the sides are about 50p and absolutely massive!
- Food at formals is a bit meh given you pay £13 not including drinks (a bit more expensive than other colleges)
- The laundry is run by Circuit Laundry who are just the worst laundry company to deal with
- 4th-year accommodation limited to 2 staircases, rather than the whole college as before (excluding people who did a year abroad, who are counted as third years)
- There’s going to be building work in Ann’s Court for the new library, although this means a tasty 20% rent reduction on some very nice rooms
- Senior Tutor is focused on academics – college sometimes focuses more on results than welfare
- The fellows make it difficult to change things in college
- Not many student societies other than sports (although more are being founded every year)
- Not near shops, restaurants or cash machines, especially Sainsbury’s
- Not very famous, if that matters to you
Sidney Sussex College Pros and Cons
- Opposite Sainsbury’s – this is amazing!
- Lovely big gardens in which you are allowed to sit on the grass
- Very friendly atmosphere.
- The Fellows are very helpful and supportive
- Very beautiful buildings
- The Porters are very kind and helpful
- The boat club has rowers of lots of different abilities, many of whom are total novices before joining
- Great community feel thanks to small size and many student run organizations
- The college bar is student run and is therefore one of the cheapest in Cambridge
- Known for possessing beautiful people
- Huge gardens which is great for summer
- Students have a very good work life balance in general
- Barbeques for students to use in summer term
- Great LGBT+ community that hosts events like drag shows and socials
- 4th worst gender ratio: only 39.8% students accepted in 2018 were female – lower than the percentage of female applicants to the college
- Noise from clubs and buskers
- Has library fines
- Unremarkable – people often don’t know which college it is
- Sidney street is one of main shopping areas and gets VERY congested with both shoppers and tourists (especially on Saturdays) and is one way even for cyclists
- Not the most competitive in sports
- Half of first year accommodation is offsite
Trinity College Pros and Cons
Ranked on the second position on the Tompkins table league for 2022.
- Richest Oxbridge college by far – endowed with well over £1 billion!
- Lots of grants, accommodation is excellent and reasonably priced and facilities are good
- 6th-cheapest College for accommodation (an average they deliberately try to maintain) and arguably the best value for money on rooms out of all Colleges (except for the fact that kitchens can be dismal)
- Amazing international reputation and is considered the most academic college at Cambridge – top of the Tompkins Table for every single year since 2011 (ranked by the percentage of first-class degrees and average performance of students) including 2017.
- More Nobel Prize winners (32) than most countries and more than any other Oxbridge college. In comparison, the second highest Oxbridge college, Gonville and Caius, Cambridge, has 14. The Oxford college with the most winners is Magdalen with 9. If Trinity was a country, it would have the 5th largest number of Nobel Laureates.
- Distinguished alumni in the sciences and mathematics including Sir Isaac Newton, James Clerk Maxwell, Srinivasa Ramanujan, Ernest Rutherford, Niels Bohr, Bertrand Russell and Ludwig Wittgenstein.
- Brilliant alumni in other areas: Eddie Redmayne (Oscar-winning actor), Lord Byron (poet), Amartya Sen (former Master of Trinity College and Nobel Laureate in economics), Sir James Mirrlees (Nobel Laureate in economics), Justin Welby (Archbishop of Canterbury), Jawaharlal Nehru (first PM of India), Nicholas Patrick (NASA astronaut) and many others!
- Of the 6 Fields Medals ever won by those from the UK, 4 went to Trinity.
- Excellent location. Most of the college is right in the centre of town, but it also spans the Backs and has land past the UL. Whewell’s, Wolfson, Blue Boar and Pearce are only about a one minute walk from Sainsbury’s.
- The college has a lot of punts it rents out cheaply to its students.
- Lots of green spaces – Fellows’ garden that students can walk in and large lawns on the Backs – great for relaxing by the river, especially in the summer.
- If you get a first you get all sorts of privileges, such as being put in a separate room ballot, getting several free dinners, getting invited to a couple of feasts, and a sizeable cash reward.
- If you get a first in your final year, Trinity will fully fund your master’s degree.
- Trinity has the largest college library with over 300,000 volumes and the beautiful Wren Library, which students are allowed to use as study space in exam term.
- Has a fantastic and supportive TCSU (Trinity College Students’ Union), who are particularly great in Fresher’s Week and run events all throughout the year.
- Has the original, biggest and (many would say) best ‘May Ball’ out of all Colleges, though also one of the most expensive ones. Happens after exams each year and as undergrad you get guaranteed tickets (the envy of all of Cambridge).
- Has a relatively newly-renovated (2014) JCR with new comfy sofas, a new 65 inch TV with Sky Sports, sound system, Netflix and a PS4
- The bar has also been recently renovated (2016), and now (finally) has a great atmosphere and is massively popular with students.
- Great supervisors. Generally the supervisors want to help and are very capable and knowledgeable.
- Very good welfare support – the college recently hired a college counsellor to help Trinity Students.
- Helpful and kind porters that somehow manage to remember most people in college.
- Secure underground bike storage for all those that apply (bicycle theft is one of the top crimes that happen at Cambridge).
- Lots of mathematicians and physicists.
- Largest college by a mile with 200+ per year, good if you like to be fairly anonymous.
- Has one of the best (if not THE best), most renowned choirs at Oxbridge. Chorists in Trinity College Choir get to participate in countless events (such as singing on the river, where students sing on the river Cam), and also get tuition from renowned musicians.
- Biggest gender pay gap of all the colleges
- 3rd most expensive formals
- 3rd worst college regarding for admitting students from the most disadvantaged backgrounds. Only 2.9% come from the poorest 20% of households
- Invests £2.5m in arms companies and £3.2m in tobacco companies
- Food in hall somewhat more expensive and not as nice as elsewhere. Also one of the highest kitchen fixed charge (£171 per term)
- May Ball had clear up workers take on 10-hour shifts for no monetary payment
- May Ball offering below the minimum wage
- Some of the washing machines and dryers are fairly old.
- Massive gender imbalance (~66-33% men-women), though this is a consequence of its having lots of Maths and Science students and reflects the gender imbalance of Science and Maths students in Cambridge more broadly. Humanities subjects actually accept slightly more women than men in Trinity in most years.
- Scholar’s ballot makes it difficult for arts and humanities students to get good rooms in later years, though this may reflect that Maths and Science students on average do better in their degree and get the privileges associated with it.
- The largest college in terms of undergrads by a long way with 200+ per year, so it has a slightly different atmosphere to other colleges and you don’t get to know and gel with everyone as easily as in some of the smaller, closely-knit colleges.
- New Dean has attempted to crackdown on alcohol consumption – less opportunities to drink than before. Students can no longer bring wine into formals and can only be served three glasses of wine.
- Big divide between scientists and humanities students on a day to day basis as it is easy for scientists to stay together as there are so many. Occurs less in smaller colleges.
- The College site is so large that in second year you may end up living quite far from other friends.
- Relatively insular college.
- Lots of tourists around, especially in the summer, although the college now charges them entry so numbers have gone down.
- Often considered the most academic college and so the atmosphere tends to get a little serious and intense in college, especially around exam term.
- It’s next door to St. John’s.
- Lots of mathematicians and physicists.
- Worst college race-wise – in 2018 they admitted a grand total of one black student, despite having one of the largest student bodies at Cambridge.
- Students were told they could get kicked out of their accommodation if they tested positive for COVID-19.
- Regarded by many students as the ‘evil college’ for its investments into tobacco, arms, fossil fuels.
- Excellent reputation means increased pressure and higher expectations.
- A porter was recently reported for being racist to a student.
- Quite stingy when it comes to money related things. Have a choral scholarship? You don’t even get any free formals!
- Sent all students home (including internationals!) after the THIRD LOCKDOWN was announced!
- Infamously handled the COVID crisis the worst, see points above and points below.
- The TCSU tried to make life better for the students countless times but Trinity refused to accept any of their complaints/suggestions.
- Accommodation isn’t always great – some students often had to go down several flights of stairs for the toilets. Living in old accommodation e.g Great Court isn’t always worth it either, since despite the view, there are very little to no ensuites.
- Correctly regarded as an unfriendly, elitist college.
- The college infamously does not look at the potential of students, since being at the top of Tompkins and elitist has seemingly made Trinity admissions only look at the grades you have, and very little attention to anything else.
- Infamous for favouring advantaged students over disadvantaged (Ramanujan being an exception).
- Student satisfaction at Trinity is quite low, especially if you’re a minority, disadvantaged, disabled, or international.
- Lower grants than other colleges e.g St John’s, even though Trinity is the richest college at Cambridge.
- Reportedly uses more of a computer system, instead of assessing each candidate individually. Not good for those who are disadvantaged.
- Accommodation – limited ensuites (if any), especially in prettier courts such as Great Court.
Trinity Hall Pros and Cons
- One of the smallest, prettiest, friendliest colleges.
- Great location in the centre of Cambridge – both Downing and Sidgwick sites nearby, and very near to all the clubs, Sainsburys and the union.
- Quite strong academically, 8th on the most recent Tompkins Table.
- On the river.
- Fifth-richest, so good financial support.
- Fifth-oldest ( founded in 1350)
- Cheapest accommodation in Cambridge, starting at around £60 a week (the most expensive for undergrads is around £135 a week, which is the same as the average rent in a lot of other colleges!) .
- One of the best mixes (male / female, state / private). In 2018 53% of students accepted were female, the highest of all mixed colleges
- Reputation for having quirky people.
- Close Community.
- Very modern, beautiful Jerwood library, with big windows projecting over the river so you have great views while studying!
- You can walk on the grass (and eat on the lawn when it’s nice and sunny!!).
- Strong sporting reputation.
- Great view over the River Cam, and you can go punting on the 2 college owned punts.
- Andrew Marr went here!
- Stephen Hawking did his PhD here
- About a 5 minute walk from the University Library.
- Beautiful, airy hall which has recently been refurbished.
- New block of accommodation being made in the centre of town, with 72 rooms, all en suite and double bed. To be completed July 2016
- People assume you go to the real Trinity
- 8th most expensive college to live at
- 6th worst college regarding for admitting students from the most disadvantaged backgrounds. Only 3.3% come from the poorest 20% of househoulds
- Controversial all-male drinking society
- Expensive bar
- Has library fines
- Almost all second years and some third years live further out, about a 10 minute bike ride away, up near the hill colleges, but some of this accommodation is en suite and very modern.
- Being such a small college, only first years and some lucky third years get to live on central site.
- Kitchen situation isn’t the dream at central site, usually comes with a kettle and microwave, so can be harder if you want to cook for yourself.
- Some people find it claustrophobic as everyone knows everyone very well
- A fellow was accused of sexually harassing undergrads
- Often mistaken for larger neighbour, Trinity College – definitely not the most famous college! (Though Tit Hall did come first)
- Although library overlooking river and bridge can be nice, it can be distracting to have tourists looking in at you when you’re trying to work!
- Laundry services could be a lot better
- Formals are relatively expensive.
- Dingy underground JCR
Wolfson College Pros and Cons
- Out of the centre, away from tourists, in the leafy suburb of Newnham
- On site accommodation offered for all years of undergrad or three years of PhD
- Rent below University average
- They put on really good comedy nights called “Wolfson Howlers”, usually monthly, playing host to esteemed Fringe performers and rising Footlights stars
- Close to Sidgwick site (where most of the Arts faculties are)
- Close to University Library
- 24 hour college library, helpful librarians, happy to order books on demand
- Formal halls continue (once a week instead of twice) in the holidays, good if you’re around Cambridge during the break (e.g. graduate students)
- Though at £20 formals appear expensive at first, they go all out with the formality (gowns, candles, etc) and include lots of wine and port, and sometimes cheese, so together with the excellent food most people find it worth it. They occur on Tuesdays and Fridays in term time.
- As with all the graduate colleges, no high table
- Tennis court and decent gym
- Student run bar, so cheaper than many other colleges. During the day it is a cafe, serving well-priced coffees.
- Cosmopolitan college, highly international
- Very friendly atmosphere, and the friendliest porters
- The outstanding gardens are the jewel in its crown, look great all year round and really makes up for the architecture (you can also walk on some of the lawns), plus it does have an attractive old house in the middle, and a quirky Chinese style Lee Hall auditorium. The Lee Library also has some Chinese influences, as they were both funded by a Singaporean philanthropist.
- Recently refurbished bar (‘Club Room’ – complete with free pool and table football, with dance floor/DJ sound+lighting systems for bops) and antique-style wood-panelled Old Combination Room is a favourite for studying and relaxing
- Ideal for fresh undergraduates going straight into PhD/Masters, most students are in their early 20s, so atmosphere isn’t too ancient or ‘boring’ (often a misconception of graduate colleges), lively enough with regular bops without everyone being noisy/crazy for always going out (unlike purely undergraduate colleges!) and everyone has interesting backgrounds, jobs or nationalities to talk about.
- WCSA (Wolfson College Students’ Association – the combined JCR/MCR) as well as running great events all year round, has some useful amenities including free punt hire at Scudamore’s, a massage chair, hireable inflatable beds for hosting guests, and weekly free tea/coffee and cake afternoons.
- Far from centre (15-20 minute walk), inconvenient without a bike compared to others, though not as far as Girton or Homerton
- Accommodation buildings are modern so it doesn’t have the traditional architecture vibe, though there are some nods to tradition e.g. the quad-style layouts and Bredon House.
- No chapel
- Some of the rooms are very small. Many blocks have been refurbished recently however.
- Accepted more students than there was accommodation for, the college does not own any off-site housing, so many students (particularly for Masters) were left having to find their own housing before arrival, problematic if you get your offer very late in the cycle.
- Not many notable alumni
- In order to promote interaction and generate conversation mobile phones were once banned in the dining hall even at informal meals, though this has been relaxed to just banning phone calls. Phones are still banned at formal dinners.
- Being so international is not a disadvantage though certain nationalities tend to stick together very closely, but it is a large college so if you spend time speaking to people at dinner or at the bar, etc it will stand you in good stead for making friends in general
- On Tuesdays and Fridays (formal dinner nights), regular dinner is served in the club room instead which is smaller and less comfortable for dining.
- Laundry is run by the infamous Circuit company, well-known to graduates of other universities – expensive!
It’s hard to say due to personal preferences, but here is the guide to read on the best Cambridge Colleges.
Christ’s College and Trinity College are the two most prestigious at Cambridge.
It’s very hard to be accepted in Kings, Clare and Emma colleges due to high entry criteria.
According to the official procedure, it is not allowed to switch the college. However, this is a topic to discuss with College Graduate Tutor as it looks logical switching colleges if you are not satisfied.