Hmm, firstly, my dad went to Cambridge to do maths and he's now 60 and still regrets it and didnt enjoy it and thinks he would have been happier somewhere else. I think the fact he still regrets it now shows that you shouldn't force yourself to go somewhere because rejecting it might seem 'crazy' to some people. It's about what's right for you.
(Original post by thalliday93)
I understand that natural sciences is very flexible but I know that I want to do biology so I'm not particularly worried about that. What bothers me is that at Cambridge you choose 3 options from a list of very broad sounding modules, whereas at Exeter (and at most other universities) I think it's 6 or 7 options from a list of more specific modules which would allow me to study specifically what I find most interesting. Plus Exeter has an awesome sounding coral reef field course in second year
Thanks to everyone for the advice, does anyone know just how much of an advantage a Cambridge degree would be in comparison to one from a good university like Exeter? I'm fairly sure I don't want an academic career and I do think I'd be more likely to get good honours in a place where I'm happy.
Secondly Cambridge degree might give a slight advantage, or that's what everyone says anyway. But to be honest, if you come out with a better degree from exeter than you do at cambridge, because you enjoyed the course more and put in more work, then you'll be in a better position. The name 'cambridge' wont automatically get you jobs like some people think either. How well you do in your degree is what the employers will look at first, then what other things you have done on your CV too to make you more emplyable and suitable for the job...then maybe they might look at the uni you went to. But it definitely isnt the most important thing, and Exeter is a top university anyway so will still look good on your CV.
I applied to Exeter this year to do Biology, and I didn't apply for Cambridge for many of the reasons you stated. I want to do a biology degree with loads of options so I can pick everything Im interested in. Cambridges natural sciences degree only lets you pick a few things in the 2nd and third year, and although they're broadly named options, in a way it means you're already specialising in 'zoology' or 'physiology' or whatever you pick, when at exeter you could still be taking modules from ecology, genetics and cell biology and all the things you're interested in. I find that cambridges natural sciences degree actually limits your choice in the second and third year to only a few streams of biology. I know the whole point is that you specislise more and more as you go through the degree, but I much prefer exeters course as you can keep some breadth if you want to, and you can focus on exactly what you want to study. That's why I didn't apply to cambridge. I wanted as many options in biology as I could have so I had an awesome choice of everything I was interested in. Cambridge's course just isnt like that. I think it's aimed more at people who just want to dip into the sciences and learn interesting things, but aren't too bothered about covering loads of things. Im not like that, I know exactly all the things I want to learn about in my degree, and I wanted a choice of all of those. Cambridge's degree just seems to take you on a bit of a walk down whatever stream of biology you choose, which would probably be interesting. But then, you never get to study all the other options too!
Hmm, not sure Im making any sense anymore :P
Also in your first ever post you mentioned about not wanting to eat in halls :P This bugs me too, I really want my own flat and everything so can cook myself pasta. I ended up applying to oxford (didnt get in :P) and I spent ages picking a college that had kitchens I could use :P
But yeh, a lot of people love the cambridge traditions, but if they arent for you then you definitely wont enjoy your time there as much as you would at exeter. Some people just dont want the oxbridge experience, and I think that's fair enough. Its not for everyone. I actually didn't feel that welcomed at my interviews at oxford, and although the buildings were pretty and the course was amazing, I think I will have a better time at sheffield, which is where Im firming. Work load wont be as crazy either, but I can still study everything I wanted to
Oh, and if you want a career in biology afterwards, and are thinking of doing postgraduate, where you do your postgraduate degree is WAY more important than your undergraduate one. So I think pick the uni YOU want to go to for undergraduate, and then if you want to do postgraduate go for one of the top departments in the country! That will put you in a good position for getting a job. But maybe not so much from the name of the uni, but from the connections with top scientists that you'll make.
I still dont think going to oxbridge for undergrad gives people an advantage over others when getting jobs. It doesnt guarentee you a job. You still have to work hard, like at any uni, and do loads of extra curricular stuff, and a degree from exeter will give you basically as much chance of getting a good job as cambridge would, obviously depending on what you do in your free time. Its all about building your CV up with extra curricular stuff around your subject, and getting a good degree. Exeters a top uni, so it'll still look good. The slight advantage the name cambridge might give you isn't worth 3 years of not being happy. Especially if you dont even like the course at cambridge as much as at exeter. Because then you wont work as hard either!
(Original post by catoswyn)
Hard decision but the coral reef thing swings it for me... Exeter.
You can always apply for post grad at Cambridge if you really want it on your CV. As for advantage... mmmm, they say it confers a great advantage and top employers do recruit at Oxbridge... however you'd need to check specifically because the sweeping, general stats don't always tell the whole story. Exeter might have tie ups with organisations you are specifically interested in..... or their course may be famous for some reason. ie. if I wanted to be a forensic anthropologist I would choose Bournemouth over Oxbridge because of their rep. in this area and the fact they have famous tutors. Or perhaps the Oxbridge stats are distorted because of the social profile of its graduates. So Oxbridge recruit people from backgrounds with connections and money who are invariably going to have an immediate 'leg up' afterwards and this affects Oxbridge's apparent success in employment rates and creates a nice, self-perpetuating myth that the same magical employability will be conferred on everyone attending. (though I hope I'm wrong and everyone without connections and money who go to Oxbridge do have great opportunties afterwards!)
Secondly Exeter has a good internship scheme you could look into for later, the university is ploughing money into new developments etc and is zooming up the tables pretty smartly. So a place with lots of energy and forward looking. Friendly and relaxed.
Third: I know people who have graduated from all over the country. Oxbridge is not a GUARANTEE of success and neither are the rest necessarily a disadvantage in the long run. My friends from Oxbridge range from the very succesful to the definitely not and likewise with other universities. So some friends from Oxbridge have been less succesful than those from other uni's have been.
Last: happiness is key. Follow your instinct. I once obtained a very sought after job with a well known organisation. Everyone was over the moon for me and very impressed, As the day drew near for starting I just knew it was all wrong. However, like you with Cambridge such a feeling seemed silly as everyone agreed this was such an opportunity etc. I went to the job and spent two very, very unhappy years before I finally left. I should have just trusted my intuition in the first place! I think learning to say, 'this feels right for me and that doesn't' is a great skill in life.
I agree a lot with what the above person has said.
Oh and I think if the thought of exeter gives you that excited buzzy feeling that cambridge doesn't, then your choice should be clear :P Uni's supposed to be some of the best times we have, you will regret it if you go somewhere and dont enjoy it. Because even if you do get a slightly better job just because you went to cambridge, which is unlikely, you might still look back and think, wow this job so wasnt worth the 3 years I spent at cambridge, when I could have been somewhere else having way more fun.
Edit: (The irony of clicking the 'post quick reply' button, after spending AGES typing all that out, amused me greatly )
Last edited by Emgrace; 17-03-2012 at 18:26.