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Would it be stupid to turn down a Cambridge maths offer?

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    (Original post by monkyvirus)
    Don't be wowed by Cambridge's reputation without wondering how it gets that rep: it is most definitely a work intensive environment. My friend told me his tutor said "It's a Christmas vacation not holiday, holiday implies you get time off" before giving him a massive pile of work. When I enquired during my application a few years back about doing language classes I was told that if I wasn't the kind of person who wanted to do maths 24/7 then it wasn't the course for me. Now that doesn't say you can't do it if you're more broad-minded but it's was an indicator for me about the kind of people they were looking for so I withdrew my application. You will also be surrounded by a majority of people who love maths, full-on "I'm gonna do some integration for fun after lunch" kinda people so you may feel out of place if you're not like that.
    I have to say, as a current student at Cambridge this is fairly unrepresentative of my experience.

    Yes, Cambridge is work intensive, but mostly because of the amount of work people put themselves through rather than because it is necessary in order to do well. Mathematics as a subject is probably one of the least work intensive courses around - realistically you have 4 courses a term with around 4 example sheets each. That works out to around 2 example sheets per week (hardly a huge volume of work compared to other courses). (It also means that a tutor dumping a whole load of "vacation" work on you is an unlikely story - it's certainly not happened to me in the 3 years I've been here).

    I would say that you've been mislead by whichever admissions tutor told you that. Although I don't know any mathematicians who've done language courses, I know plenty of people from courses with similar work-loads who've taken them on the side.

    You're also not really "surrounded" by people like that. Perhaps in lectures you will encounter people like that, but most of your friends will come from other subjects and if you're not like that it's certainly not an issue.
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    i don't think they let you use a calculator at Cambridge
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    (Original post by the bear)
    i don't think they let you use a calculator at Cambridge
    My highest mark at university was on one of the few exams where we were permitted to use a calculator. I forgot my calculator that day. They aren't very useful at university.
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    (Original post by ev1)
    I have mixed feelings about whether to accept my Mathematics offer from Cambridge (A*,A*,A plus 1,1 in STEP) or from Nottingham (B,B,B) NOTE A typical Nottingham offer is A,A,A or A*,A,B so please don't assume it is sub-par. I am beginning to veer towards Nottingham. This is obviously a life changing decision so I am thinking very carefully about it.



    When I first applied to uni I think I had my mind so strongly set on Cambridge being the only place I wanted to go that I didn't consider what it would actually be like to study there (if that makes sense). Now after thinking about it properly I could in all seriousness see myself dropping out of Cambridge. I am really not attracted by the high pressure/high intensity working lifestyle. I would rather coast through a respectable Notts degree whilst enjoying other aspects of uni life. I see my social interests as more clubbing/going out and Cambridge has a much quieter social scene.

    My parents tell me that I would be a fool to reject Cambridge, I'd be throwing away an education that would present me with better career prospects for the future. I fully understand that with a Cambridge maths degree you could just about walk into whatever profession you wanted. But would a Nottingham maths degree be that much worse?

    Mathematics courses are very similar from uni to uni, and both Cambridge and Nottingham courses offer a wide range of topics to choose from so I could not say that I preferred either of the unis' courses.

    I much prefer Nottingham as a city than Cambridge. This is because 1) the Nottingham nightlife is much more lively than that of Cambridge and also 2) Nottingham is closer to home so it would be less hassle to come back to see family/friends in Doncaster.

    An additional note is that if I put Nottingham as insurance choice then I can only apply for accommodation there in August by which time I will just have to take what the uni has left (and may even end up having to rent off site). I don't see this as a deciding factor but it means that i don't want to put Cambridge first with Nottingham as backup.

    According to the "DirectGov Unistats website" student satisfaction at Cambridge and Nottingham is 96% and 92% respectively, and employment after 6 months is 89% and 73%.



    So basically should I have a less enjoyable experience during my 3/4 years at uni in order to have potentially better career prospects in the long term?
    A girl I know started Maths at Cambridge 2 years ago. She is now clinically depressed, on a gap year after completing one year and getting married, all at the age of 20? At least you'll have some normality at Nottingham.
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    (Original post by the bear)
    i don't think they let you use a calculator at Cambridge
    I don't know, but that would be pretty normal, as well, as studying in your vacation, when the exams are after the vacation.
    At the end it is Math at very good University and why should it be easier than A Level?
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    Hmm, this is tricky..

    Thing is, before everyone goes to uni, they choose based on the course. Once you're there, the most important thing and the reason I (and everyone I know) gets up every morning is for the social side - not necessarily partying but just friends, laughs, eating together. If I was constantly sat in the library not understanding any of my modules and ploughing through problem sheets, knowing everyone around me had an IQ of about 200, I'd be miserable. Obvz that's exaggerating but you get the point. Struggling with 2/5 modules is bad enough! I know people on TSR constantly complain about how uni is "meh" but personally, it's been the best year of my life so far and I can't see how life after graduation could equal it. Living on your own, having to pay loads of bills and being the office junior while NOT going out twice a week with your now-gone mates? Uni years is the one of the best years of your life, not just a means to an end as some put it, so you should be happy.

    The job prospects are obviously better at Cambridge but it's not like you'll be flipping burgers with a Notts degree, with enough work you can get to where you want to be. The point is, you seem to have convinced yourself you'll hate Cambridge - how do you know? It is an amazing opportunity you'd be turning down, and if you like maths, wouldn't you want to push yourself rather than settle for a course where you might be bored for the first year. There are people at EVERY uni who want to go and party - on our course I constantly see the same faces when out clubbing, and I also see the contingent who head to the library after every lecture. It'll be the same at any uni.

    Basically, I'm not really on any side, you should just think about your decision carefully. You don't want to have a tough time and be unhappy at Cambridge, but you don't want to be in Nottingham finding the course easy and regretting turning down arguably the #1 uni for maths!
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    (Original post by SimonM)
    I have to say, as a current student at Cambridge this is fairly unrepresentative of my experience.

    Yes, Cambridge is work intensive, but mostly because of the amount of work people put themselves through rather than because it is necessary in order to do well. Mathematics as a subject is probably one of the least work intensive courses around - realistically you have 4 courses a term with around 4 example sheets each. That works out to around 2 example sheets per week (hardly a huge volume of work compared to other courses). (It also means that a tutor dumping a whole load of "vacation" work on you is an unlikely story - it's certainly not happened to me in the 3 years I've been here).

    I would say that you've been mislead by whichever admissions tutor told you that. Although I don't know any mathematicians who've done language courses, I know plenty of people from courses with similar work-loads who've taken them on the side.

    You're also not really "surrounded" by people like that. Perhaps in lectures you will encounter people like that, but most of your friends will come from other subjects and if you're not like that it's certainly not an issue.
    I stand corrected, most of my impression came from students on other courses (specifically humanities which I perhaps ignorantly assumed would be significantly less intensive) and my dire conversation with that admissions tutor. Apologies for making assumptions about a specific course on the basis of the general feedback I've received from friends there.

    I have corrected my original comment by deleting the references to workload. Though I stand by my point about employability.
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    (Original post by ev1)

    According to the "DirectGov Unistats website" student satisfaction at Cambridge and Nottingham is 96% and 92% respectively, and employment after 6 months is 89% and 73%.


    So basically should I have a less enjoyable experience during my 3/4 years at uni in order to have potentially better career prospects in the long term?
    Well the Destinations of Leavers and the National Student Satisfaction Survey are not good ways to compare the courses at different universities. They might mean something if they go up or down for one course.

    No it might not be stupid - there are plenty of students who make a rational reasoned decision to go to a maths department they can get in to easily rather than the best they could manage to scrape in to. One rationalization they give is that they expect they will perform better being near the top of the class, and many students who were perhaps the best their school has ever seen at maths find it hard when they are near bottom of the class.

    Others have a personalty that makes them strive to be at the top of any pile!

    There is a bit more about this in my essay http://www.maths.manchester.ac.uk/~b...udymathsuk.pdf.

    It has to be said also that in the end it probably is harder to get a first at Cambridge that at eg Manchester or Nottingham. Not that we have done any controlled experiments. Some jobs have a threshold of a 2.1 and they don't say oh well your from Cambridge we'll let you in with a 2.2 in your finals! Clearly some people would in retrospect have been better of tactically to go to a university that is easier to get in to.

    Cambridge does also have a certain advantage for networking to get a job, and it is hard to tell if that is enough to offset getting one class lower degree.
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    (Original post by BillLionheart)
    Cambridge does also have a certain advantage for networking to get a job, and it is hard to tell if that is enough to offset getting one class lower degree.
    Possibly more, depends on which universities one compares.
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    If you want better job prospects for the rest of your life, yes you'll be stupid to, but if for the next four years you want a well rounded social life and a less heavy workload I guess it's ok for you to go to notts.
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    (Original post by someonesomewherexx)
    If you want better job prospects for the rest of your life, yes you'll be stupid to, but if for the next four years you want a well rounded social life and a less heavy workload I guess it's ok for you to go to notts.
    The problem with these sorts of answers is that they don't always fit well with reality. Getting a 2.1 in Cambridge Maths is extremely hard. Getting a 2.1 in nottingham Maths is hard too. Remember, many firms filter and want a 2.1 or above. Cam Maths is hardly a safe option.
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    (Original post by Physics Enemy)
    The problem with these sorts of answers is that they don't always fit well with reality. Getting a 2.1 in Cambridge Maths is extremely hard. Getting a 2.1 in nottingham Maths is hard too. Remember, many firms filter and want a 2.1 or above. Cam Maths is hardly a safe option.
    Well OP has to be smart to get an offer from Cambridge, who says he can't deal with their work load. Since we're being realistic here, won't a 2:1 from cambridge afford OP more opportunities than one from Notts? It might not be safe, but it's definitely a better option.
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    (Original post by someonesomewherexx)
    Well OP has to be smart to get an offer from Cambridge, who says he can't deal with their work load. Since we're being realistic here, won't a 2:1 from cambridge afford OP more opportunities than one from Notts? It might not be safe, but it's definitely a better option.
    Getting a STEP offer vs getting a 2.1 in Cam Maths are lightyears apart. Yes, it's a better option. Winning the lottery or owning an airline is also better.
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    (Original post by Physics Enemy)
    Getting a STEP offer vs getting a 2.1 in Cam Maths are lightyears apart. Yes, it's a better option. Winning the lottery or owning an airline is also better.
    yeah yeah they are, but like I said earlier how do you know OP is not that smart. Lottery or owning an airplane seriously? I thought we were talking academia here, by the way what University do you attend?
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    (Original post by ev1)

    According to the "DirectGov Unistats website" student satisfaction at Cambridge and Nottingham is 96% and 92% respectively, and employment after 6 months is 89% and 73%.
    Don't need a maths degree to see where the better odds are
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    (Original post by dollar)
    A girl I know started Maths at Cambridge 2 years ago. She is now clinically depressed, on a gap year after completing one year and getting married, all at the age of 20? At least you'll have some normality at Nottingham.
    People get depressed in every university.
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    (Original post by someonesomewherexx)
    Well OP has to be smart to get an offer from Cambridge, who says he can't deal with their work load.
    Don't forget, pretty much *everyone* going to Cambridge is smart. And a fair proportion of them will NOT be getting 2:1's. So "you're smart, you'll be fine" is not a compelling argument.

    Since we're being realistic here, won't a 2:1 from cambridge afford OP more opportunities than one from Notts? It might not be safe, but it's definitely a better option.
    I think the bigger factor is which course is "right" for you. If you go to Nottingham, love the course, and learn as much as you can, it will probably work better for you than going to Cambridge and hating it. (If nothing else, the likelihood is that you'll end up with a much better degree).
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    (Original post by someonesomewherexx)
    yeah yeah they are, but like I said earlier how do you know OP is not that smart. Lottery or owning an airplane seriously? I thought we were talking academia here, by the way what University do you attend?
    Yes he's probably very bright, though to be able to say "I'm sure I'd get a 2.1 at either Cam or notts, so all thats left is to consider relative prospects after obtaining said 2.1" requires extreme levels of ability and also arrogance.

    Yes, a Cam 2.1 is probably better than a notts 2.1. But that's because it's extremely hard. And if you miss it, prospects may well be more limited.
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    (Original post by DFranklin)
    Don't forget, pretty much *everyone* going to Cambridge is smart. And a fair proportion of them will NOT be getting 2:1's. So "you're smart, you'll be fine" is not a compelling argument.

    I think the bigger factor is which course is "right" for you. If you go to Nottingham, love the course, and learn as much as you can, it will probably work better for you than going to Cambridge and hating it. (If nothing else, the likelihood is that you'll end up with a much better degree).
    And he isn't even going to Cambridge, he simply has an offer. Half of them won't achieve it, yet all of them are 'smart'. In a normal comp school, a Cambridge Maths offer holder only happens every one in 4 years or so.
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    (Original post by velociraptor)
    Don't need a maths degree to see where the better odds are
    Probably nottingham. That 16% prospect difference of grads is more than offset by the relative difficulty of 1) entering each university 2) obtaining a 2.1 in the end.

    newsflash: A 2.1 in Cambridge Maths has better prospects. Let's all apply to Cambridge then! Premier league football players have even better prospects.

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