Hi everyone, I'm an international student with an offer to read PPE and would really appreciate responses to a few questions:
1. Is it in any way possible to transfer between two Oxford colleges? Or would one have to re-apply another year to do so (in which case, it would not be worth it)?
2. How much does one's college impact one's academics/general student experience? How centralized is the education? Are classes taken with other PPE'ists from other colleges, or more with those in your college? Do real personalities differ across colleges, as stereotypes may be grounded in reality and, if I may ask, are students at more "prestigious" colleges (ie, Christ Church, Magdalen, Balliol) generally brighter than those in others? (as evidenced by the Norrington Tables?)
Does your college represent the main pillar of your Oxford experience? Or is it your course, ie are you closer with PPEists from other colleges? To what degree do you/can you interact with students from other colleges -- and does the idea of a broader, cohesive university exist, or do communities exist as fragmented colleges?
The reason I ask is that I am weighing attending Yale in the U.S. and Oxford, and am attracted to the latter. However, I originally applied for PPE elsewhere but was pooled to Queen's, a college which I know little about. I was also generally unaware of distinctions between colleges when originally applying. I would greatly appreciate any information for this clueless international student! Thank you
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- Thread Starter
- 11-04-2011 13:31
- 11-04-2011 14:08
It's very rare to transfer between colleges, and normally only happens for a very good reason. Not just because you want a more 'prestigious' college. It's called migration, and you have to get your current college to release you and the other college have to give a letter to the Proctor's confirming they'll accept you.
Here's the OUSU link anyway about migration
But it does intimate that changing for prestige is not a valid reason. The Proctor's can't force your college to let you migrate, nor force another to accept you. I know of one case of migration, and that was because of an incident with another student and the student affected didn't feel they could continue to study at the same college because of welfare reasons.
Ok onto your next point...
You tend to be closer to the people doing your subject at your college, and other people at your college, than with those reading your subject at other colleges. Lectures are obviously held for all colleges, but for PPE you find they are very big. Personally I know few PPEists outside of my college, apart from those I went to school with and their friends who I've gotten to know. You have tutorials and classes in college (at least in first year), so you spend a fair amount of time with your fellow college PPEists. But socially friendships obviously extend beyond course alliances. It's great if you get on with your coursemates because it can make studying and so on a lot easier - we all get on at my college, but I know another (not going to name) where they just see each other as competition and don't collaborate.
Your college is a large part of your university experience - you live there and with those people for 3/4 years. They are your immediate friendship group, and it takes some time to meet friends outside of your college. Getting involved in extra-curricular activities (the Union, newspapers, sport, music, drama...) widens your social group beyond your college. I like meeting people from different colleges - more college bars to visit!
I guess I'd say the wider community exists if you want to find it. I think I have a nice balance of a great college friendship group, as well as friends from other colleges.
Worrying about the 'prestige' of colleges is somewhat futile. At the end of the day, you are at Oxford. No one wrinkles up their nose when you tell them what college you're at. You're going to find people you click with and ones with whom you don't, regardless of which college you are at. But likewise at Yale you might not click with the people you live near, but you do with some others... No matter your reservations before you arrive, you'll soon develop a sense of affinity with your college (and dare I say pride?).
Oh and you're at Oxford. Everyone is bright.
(Original post by desertfox)
- 11-04-2011 14:53
...are students at more "prestigious" colleges (ie, Christ Church, Magdalen, Balliol) generally brighter than those in others? (as evidenced by the Norrington Tables?)...I originally applied for PPE elsewhere but was pooled to Queen's, a college which I know little about.
I wouldn't worry about this issue at all.
- Thread Starter
- 11-04-2011 15:47
By all means, I didn't mean it that an Oxford degree wasn't prestigious enough. Rather, couldn't this prestige, or more quantifiably, the Norrington Tables, indicate different levels of student achievement across colleges? I feel that as much of the learning could come from the people you live with as from the tutors/professors itself, and the same goes for a dynamic atmosphere of things happening on campus (think Mark Zuckerberg starting Facebook from Harvard a la The Social Network).
I hope this isn't read the wrong way, but I'm currently weighing PPE at Queen's vs. an offer at Yale in the U.S. I'm curious as to how students at Yale would differ from those at Oxford, at a more "prestigious" one, and at one like Queen's (which, for all I know as a clueless international, is not bad?). I'd appreciate any thoughts on Queen's, as above, below or medium-average. I hope this isn't taken the wrong way. :/ Thank you!
- 11-04-2011 16:48
there is very little difference between "top" colleges and others, it varies person to person, I know individuals at St.Peter's who are much more intelligent that others at St.John's, I think if anything your ability to learn from others will be better outside of the high pressure colleges as like an earlier post said many people aiming for double 1sts will be less willing to engage/share their experiences (massive over-generalisations aside pick oxford)
- 11-04-2011 16:59
Well I've never looked to see where my college is on the Norrington Tables.
You're right in that learning comes from your fellow course mates, as well as tutors and lecturers. But every student in every college as proven that they are bright enough and dynamic to be at Oxford. My Politics tutor also tutors at arguably one of the most prestigious PPE colleges, but he gets really frustrated with their inability to collaborate and work together. They just compete with each other, very tactical in what they share and even hoard books to prevent others using them. Unlike my year at my college, who swap essays at the end of term, as well as notes and books throughout the 8 weeks. In any college there will be a range of types of students - the more laidback ones (like me), and those who go all out (every lecture, read every book on the reading lists, attend extra lectures and talks).
I'm tempted to say there's more chance of you learning from your course mates at Oxford than Yale. Tutorials and classes are very small, for me 2 and 7 people in each respectively. They are all about YOUR ideas, not the tutor's. Every week I'm amazed about how different my tute partner and I are in our essays - both often equally strong, but normally come from such different angles.
Your Mark Zuckerberg experience could happen at any university. There's no end of innovative projects that students across the world are coming up with.
The thing is someone else doing PPE at Queens could easily have been pooled from Balliol after interview - often it's because you are equally as good as those who are given a place there, but there's a finite number of places. Hence you get pooled to another college, it's just the luck of the draw in some cases. Everyone in Queens doing PPE has been deemed to be academic enough to potentially achieve a First, if they put the work in. Just like every person at Christchurch.
Any student could have ended up at any college.
If you do decide to go to Oxford, you're going to have to shake this idea that Queens isn't prestigious enough.
A degree at Oxford is not the same as one from Yale. You're choosing to specialise from the moment of entry. It's taught in a different way. The collegiate lifestyle is different. Perhaps you should be focussing on these differences, rather than about the specific college at Oxford.
At the end of the day, you graduate with a degree in PPE from Oxford. You don't need to specify your exact college on your CV, if it's still bothering you.Last edited by Poppyxx; 11-04-2011 at 17:01.
- 11-04-2011 17:27
I think that you may be picturing Oxford colleges as little universities within themselves, but they have a more pastoral than academic role; relative 'prestige' has more to do with age, wealth, fame and alumni. If Christ Church were to finish bottom of the Norrington Table next year, it would still have given us 14 Prime Ministers (and Harry Potter ). It's true that a few colleges provide a slightly more academically aggressive ambience than others, but at the individual level you will have every chance to flourish at any college. We all go to the same lectures, have access to the same libraries, and sit the same exams. Even tutorials are sometimes held at other colleges, when home tutors are not specialists.
Besides, Norrington is too simplistic a measure. It artificially weights First Class results, which are statistically more likely in Science subjects than Arts (not all colleges offer all subjects). The vast majority of colleges are within a few 'Firsts' of each other; Corpus Christi is currently second in the table, but three years ago it was towards the bottom.
You need have no concerns at all about the academic status of Queen's.
- 12-04-2011 11:39
I think your social experience will be heavily influenced by your college, but in an entirely unpredictable way. Nobody will know what your year group is like socially until you arrive, and how many people you get on with will depend pretty much on that. There's plenty of opportunities to socialise outside of college, and you will quite possibly have tutorials outside of college (last term I didn't have any academic stuff in Merton whatsoever, and I didn't last Trinity either). In other words, there's no point transferring college before you get there because you can't possibly know which college will be best for you, and almost everyone ends up loving their college anyway.