(indecisive 6th former's) Imperial vs Durham ,pros/cons megapost. HELP NEEDED! Watch

halfoflessthan50p
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*I have a feeling this is going to be a long one. So skip to the end if you really want*

Okay, got offers from Imperial College London and Durham (St Chad's) to do straight Physics. (AAA and AAB; but im not too worried about getting the grades)

I really would appreciate any help or advice. I thought i should try and get as many opinions and angles on it as i could since this is a very big decision for me (and one i could regret for 3-4 years of my life )

Okay I'll write a Pros / Cons list so that you can see what im thinking and so that anyone else in my situation can share what ive found out so far. (Theres links at the end to the most useful sites i could find too. Hope it helps someone)

Here goes:

***Imperial***

PROS:

*Better ranked - Supposedly #3 in the country and the best place for physics outside of Oxbridge. It has very close links with business, finance etc in London they say. I have a feeling it would be sensible in the long run.

*London to explore - Theres definately gonna be plenty to do. Countless clubs and as many gigs as i can afford to go to. If I meet the right people and get ontop of my work I should have an amazingly exciting time

*Big buildings! - Its in a really nice part of London. You cant help but feel a little important walking past the Albert Hall and Hyde park everyday. (i currently live in the backwaters of Wales btw, so it'll be a change to have some nice architecture around )

*Societies Galore - Have you seen the list on wikipedia?!? (see links bit) theres gotta be something i'd get into. Apparently the highest spending university on societies and clubs in Britain

*Also - free gym (at the moment), I can buy all my clothes from Camden Market (I'll be just like Vince Noir i will haha :biggrin:)

CONS:

*Male/Female ratio - Its 65/35 overall and i think physics is slightly below that (all the girls are medics or life sciences.) I'm going to get a room in an intercollegiate hall if i can (although its not guaranteed I'll get one by any means)

*the dreaded Imperial Stereotype! - Stereotypes dont mean anything but its still playing on my mind a little. meh your bound to get a few 'nerds' in any university thats highly ranked I guess

****Also - pricey, crap freshers week, city life could drive me mad, apparently a very very hard course

***Durham***

PROS:

*Their so lovely! - Everyone, the lecturers, pastoral support people and (of course) the students. I was surprised and delighted by the warm heartedness i was shown by everyone i met there. I really was

*College system - The only non-oxbridge place that does this. "St Chad's is a small college which has an unrivalled sense of community." Id agree with that from what i saw on the open day. Durham is renound for its social life. I could easily imagine making alot of friends there, that i would keep for the rest of my life.

*Beautiful medieval stylee city - The cobbled streets, listed buildings and the best cathedral in England! I could think of worse places to live

*Also - Newcastle 20 mins away on the train, more options in the optional module thing (better course structure), snow!

CONS:

*Student bars and nothing else - It'd be fine (cheap booze) but I might find myself wanting a bit more. Durham officially has the worst nightclub in Britain (as voted by some magazine or another.) And the other two arent very good either

*The dreaded Durham Stereotype! - (you get one too :wink: ) Theres a fair few 'rahs' about. Lets leave it at that, I dont wanna get into a debate about class prejudice here lol

*Also - they specialise in cosmology (not particularly my thing), silly gowns and formal dinners, rain and cold weather!

LINKS:
The best rankings table i could find (not course specific)
Unofficial-guides.com: Imperial
Unofficial-guides.com: Durham
Imperial forum- iclforum . com (wont let me link it! strange)
St Chads JCR forum
Imperial's huge clubs and societies list

Phew, well that took a while. But at least you know exactly what im thinking now. If anyone could add anything to those pros/cons list, taking anything away, give me any advice, (give me an award for the longest post? :biggrin:) that'd mental. thankyouuuu!
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arkbar
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Who gives a ****ery about Imperial having good links with the City for physics?
In addition, you do know that living in London you could end up near Kings Cross (not a lovely part of the world) in your first year and as far out as Zone 3(a long way) in your 2nd/3rd years living outside of halls.
In more addition, Durham has about a billion societies at the Union alone, plus college societies.
Durham has 13 college bars, union bar (woo,Kingsgate) plus about a billion pubs. There are also more than 3 nightclubs...
You do know Imperial has about/more public school students than Durham right?
IIRC (you'd have to ask a physicist on this) the Durham department also does a lot of particle physics and theoretical physics so it's hardly narrow.
Gowns I can give or take, formal dinners are brilliant, it doesn't rain very much but it can be cold.

Edit: However, that's not to take away from Gimperial, it's a very good University which is extremely good at what it does.
My 2 cents
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dobbs
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Christ - and I thought I posted long posts!!!

Erm...

1. Durham is awesome
2. Durham is better than London
3. It doesn't rain that much to be fair (come on, it's England, not exactly a trans-continental country with mass changes in our weather are we?)
4. Yeah a few rahs, but only about 20% of the students are rahs (probably even less than this). I've met very few people that I dislike, and I'm really easy to pass judgement (for example, I talked to a guy going to my college over MSN before we started at Durham, and the fact that he had TWO middle names - Phillip William - made me think he was SO posh....I am now living in a house with him, am in a rowing crew with him, and am a particularly good friend of his!)
5. Yes we have the worst nightclub in Europe, but I bet in the world you'd find the worst one in somewhere like America (one that has a high murder rate or something)....doesn't mean that all of America is crap for nightlife :rolleyes: - though saying that Durham isn't amazing, but Newcastle....
6. IS ONLY 13 MINS AWAY (by train). Not 20. A vital 7 extra minutes of drinking that leaves
7. Dunno, I'm waffling now. Flip a coin?
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henryt
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(Original post by arkbar)
Who gives a ****ery about Imperial having good links with the City for physics?
I've seen numerous atricles around and about the place proclaiming that Physics graduates are going to have some of the best skills for some of the better paid jobs...

As a matter of fact: http://jobs.phds.org/jobs/jamesyeo/senior-quantitative (Just googled it!)

Please note the order of subjects :p: !! <This has a PhD requirement though... I don't know if that makes a differencein preference of subjects>
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-sarah-
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I have a friend who went to imperial to do chemical engineering. she dropped out after about a month and a half (and shes someone who never usually gives up on anything) because she hated the people there - 96% of her course were international students or asian and she was one of 6 girls on her course so she found it difficult to make friends and find people she had the same interests as. she also said the people there were only interested in working and none of them seemed to really go out much, whereas durham's got a really good social life AND a reputation for academic success - definately seems more balanced than studying at imperial, plus durham's physics department is pretty damn good too!!

p.s. I'm from surrey, it rains farrrrrrr more here than in durham!! and i don't think theres actually much of a different in temperature, and I am a very cold blooded person. all the walking to and from lectures warms you up, i only had to wear a coat in december!
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foxylady
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I have EXACTLY the same problem! I really really can't decide between Imperial and Durham. Ive applied for geophysics, and theres really nothing in it....
Imperial has the better reputation and is in the centre of London....but then its supposed to be very expensive and full of gimps!
Durham on the other hand is amazing and I love it!! BUT I'm from Newcastle, and I just wish it was 3 hours further away so that I could feel as though I was really leaving home!! I cant help feeling that i would be incredibly bored in Durham after three years too....
ahhh i dont know what to do!
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Aceofspades2345
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I just looked at the Times league table for Physics and it puts Durham 4th and Imperial 13th.

http://extras.timesonline.co.uk/good.../20physics.pdf

I don't know if that will help you make up your mind. Also, London is really expensive and can be a very lonely place.
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ssmoose
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Phillip William
WHy is having two middle names upper class?
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danfel
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(Original post by dobbs)
6. IS ONLY 13 MINS AWAY (by train). Not 20. A vital 7 extra minutes of drinking that leaves
14 if you get the train back as well!
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Aceofspades2345
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(Original post by ssmoose)
WHy is having two middle names upper class?
Trust me, it is. How many people do you know with 2 middle names? Even money says that over half of the people who do have upper middle class parents.
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dobbs
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(Original post by ssmoose)
WHy is having two middle names upper class?
I never said it was. Read my post :rolleyes:

I said that I pass judgement on people quickly, and so when I found he had 2 middle names (and from the south) I assumed he was a rich, posh guy who I would really dislike. But he's not, he's one of my best friends.

Though I'm pretty sure if you look at statistics, the richer you are the more likely you are to have longer/more names (particularly double-barrelled surnames!)
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paddy
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(Original post by Aceofspades2345)
Trust me, it is. How many people do you know with 2 middle names? Even money says that over half of the people who do have upper middle class parents.
Or that they're Catholic:rolleyes:
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socialist cook
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(Original post by paddylad)
Or that they're Catholic:rolleyes:
Erm I'm a Catholic and I have only one middle name.

I don't count my confirmation name!:p:
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arkbar
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None of my catholic friends have more than one middle name (and nor does my father or his side of the family)...
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not1
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I had a toss-up between Durham and ICL and went to ICL (second year now). Durham would have been cheaper and had a more varied bunch of students, but on the other hand ICL consistently kicks Durham's ass for research and rankings. That being said, there are lots of dull dull people here... I'm just always confused by Durhamite's excessive opinions of themselves. Just because it looks like Oxbridge doesn't mean it is Oxbridge. :p:
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dobbs
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(Original post by edders)
I had a toss-up between Durham and ICL and went to ICL (second year now). Durham would have been cheaper and had a more varied bunch of students, but on the other hand ICL consistently kicks Durham's ass for research and rankings. That being said, there are lots of dull dull people here... I'm just always confused by Durhamite's excessive opinions of themselves. Just because it looks like Oxbridge doesn't mean it is Oxbridge. :p:
We love our University for it's uniqueness, it's not Oxbridge, we know that, but then it's not like any other university. It is collegiate, but PROPERLY collegiate (unlike other universities which claim they are collegiate but really aren't to the extent that Durham is)....but then not as far as academically collegiate (like Oxbridge), which is what I think makes us love Durham more then Oxbridge students love Oxbridge. They are stuck in their college constantly, whereas we actually get out and meet people from other colleges on our courses. Means we have better social and welfare systems and so we enjoy our time here more.

Therefore, Durham is better than everywhere else
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Timothy
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(Original post by dobbs)
We love our University for it's uniqueness, it's not Oxbridge, we know that, but then it's not like any other university. It is collegiate, but PROPERLY collegiate (unlike other universities which claim they are collegiate but really aren't to the extent that Durham is)....but then not as far as academically collegiate (like Oxbridge), which is what I think makes us love Durham more then Oxbridge students love Oxbridge. They are stuck in their college constantly, whereas we actually get out and meet people from other colleges on our courses. Means we have better social and welfare systems and so we enjoy our time here more.

Therefore, Durham is better than everywhere else
Very well said
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Itchynscratchy
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This was also my choice and i chose durham.

To answer some of the pros/cons

*Better ranked - Supposedly #3 in the country and the best place for physics outside of Oxbridge. It has very close links with business, finance etc in London they say. I have a feeling it would be sensible in the long run.
I really don't know about now but when i applied (two years ago now :eek: ) Durham were joint 1st for physics with oxford according to the times uni guide, although i will admit that imperial probably has a better overall rep.

IIRC (you'd have to ask a physicist on this) the Durham department also does a lot of particle physics and theoretical physics so it's hardly narrow.
That is also true. (And, incidentally arkbar, most physics graduates actually go into the world of business, apparently they are highly sought after so there :p: )

If you want to aviod stereotypes mate then you shouldn't do physics. We are all workaholic geniuses with little social life and even less social skills, apparently :rolleyes:

It's up to you, if you want more info about durham physics then feel free to ask. It is a difficult decision, one i agonised over for 3 months but i really don't think there is a bad choice, you will probably love wherever you go and easily get a job afterwards so don't worry about it too much
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arkbar
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Ew, world of business....
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Piggsil
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Yeah, my housemate's boyfriend and another Castle Physicist are both going into £40k/year (+bonuses) jobs as Investment Bankers for HSBC after they graduate.
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