my brother was from queens', and from his personal experience, queens' was more of a "party" college than some others...
the people at queens' during his time played quite hard, and worked... okay. they got decent grades (2:1s, 2:2s, some firsts), but never really shone - too much partying? too little work? supervisors? one will never know. apparently every night there was some sort of party going on somewhere in queens', aside from the massive ents, of course. if you're a very social creature, it might get hard to say no to these...
from my personal viewpoint, this whole thing about college culture generally works. why? firstly, the applicants - those that choose colleges, choose colleges that they like, and so birds of a feather flock together. secondly, the interviewers - those they accept, they like, and i assume they do have a certain set of criteria they look for which is different from college to college. therefore, in the end, each college gets its own subtly distinctive subculture, which is for future applicants to try and figure out from their research.
as for open applications, they are either selected for through interviews, and "mismatched" applicants redistributed via the pool, or maybe they just enter a random college and are moulded by the environment?
We don't have a ballot system for rooms at Churchill!
Most of the rooms are similar in quality and you choose them according to affordability. I've got quite a nice room. Only share with 3 other people on my staircase so next best thing to en suite and I overlook the entire college!