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The Official Cambridge Winter Pool 2014 thread [includes FAQ and Status Reports]

This thread no longer reflects the way the winter pool operates. For an up-to-date guide, the Wikipedia page is quite useful:

Feel free to read this if you want an idea of how things used to be, though :moon:

So.... your decision letter has arrived, and you have been placed in the Winter Pool.... this thread is for you :smile:. It is true that you are in for a bit of a roller coaster ride over the next few days, but people can and do hit the jackpot; even if you don't, being pooled tells you that your application was a good one.

How to make the most of this thread
First of all do post your details and updates as they come in. Everyone is interested :biggrin:. From time to time I will post updates on numbers and outcomes, so giving as much information as you dare is very useful and much appreciated by your fellow fishes.

Secondly, it really helps if people use the search function, rather than posting the question, to find out if people applying for their subject have been given offers/invited for interview. This avoids cluttering up the thread with repetitive posts, but even better you will get a quick answer!

Thirdly, remember that how people heard about their offer or interview really doesn't mean anything for anyone else. The colleges all work differently, and within that each subject works differently. So, there are lots of possible variations and you cannot read anything into someone else's experience to judge what yours might be. Irrelevant information includes where your surname comes in the alphabet, whether you are an international student or not, whether you *might* have been autopooled, whether they phoned you or emailed you, and whether there's an 'r' in the month.

Finally, don't forget that the TSR people account for less than 10% of the pooled population. It's therefore not necessarily representative, and especially likely to be unrepresentative once you get to college or subject level. For all we know all the Pool offers in your subject went to people who've never heard of TSR and wouldn't post on here if they had :smile:. There were excellent examples of this from the 2012 round: 24 economists reported that they had been pooled, of whom only one said they had been called for re-interview. None of them reported getting an offer, though 12 did tell us they had been unsuccessful. The Cambridge stats, available here, confirm that 26 people were made offers through the Winter Pool that year - it just so happened that none of them posted on TSR.... That year's successful historians would appear to have been better represented, however: 54 offers were made through the Winter Pool, of whom 8 posted on TSR. Of the 45 Pool offers for Law, only 4 were reported in the 2012 thread. In 2013 round, none of the History of Art or Music offers made through the Pool were reported on TSR. [Note that the Cambridge numbers exclude poolees who were taken back by their original college.]

The Winter Pool - why, oh why?

The Pool is the mechanism by which Cambridge colleges ensure that all applicants of equivalent standard have a fair chance of an offer. A significant proportion of the offers made each year by Cambridge colleges are to people who have been placed in the Pool, though this varies both by college and subject. In the 2012-13 cycle, almost a third of the offers made for AMES, Classics, and MML were made through the Pool. For History of Art, it was 12 out of 28 offers (43%), while for Medicine it was 33 out of 276 (12%), and for Veterinary Medicine it was 23 out of 83 (28%). [Again, these figures exclude poolees fished by their original colleges.]

How does it work?

All applicants who have been pooled will have been sent a copy of Cambridge Winter Pool 2014, which provides a summary of the process. If you want the detail, have a look at the documents here and here. In essence, colleges place applicants in the Pool for one of two reasons: either they want to benchmark people against those applying to other colleges in order make a final decision about them, or they know they definitely can’t take the applicant but think another college might be able to. After the interviews have been completed in December, admissions tutors for each subject participate in moderation discussions, where applicants are compared across colleges so that there is consistency in terms of standards and expectations. This then informs decisions at college level about which applicants should be pooled.

I’ve been placed in the Pool. What do I do now?
First of all, take this as a tribute to the quality of your application. No-one ends up in the Pool unless they are considered to meet the required standard. At this stage the issue is capacity in terms of places available, not capability of the applicants. Even if it turns out that you don’t get an offer, being pooled is an achievement in itself. As the statistics I’ve linked to above show, most applicants are rejected outright, and quite a few never even get to the interview stage.

Secondly, get organised. Keep that mobile topped up and make sure your voicemail is working. Check your email - including the spam folders - every few hours (not minutes!). Always have something to write on and with to hand. Wait and hope, but don’t let the rest of your life slide out of control either. Especially if you have exams coming up, try not to let yourself be distracted any more than you can help.

Thirdly, be patient. Every year we get people obsessing about whether they should contact their college. Just don't. It is pointless wasting any energy on even considering this. If you do get in touch with them, you are likely to get a short answer which will not be informative and will do your confidence no good at all.

When will I hear anything?

According to the tutors' guidance, the final interview/offer list will be collated in the Admissions Office and circulated to colleges by 3pm on Sunday 5 January, and the briefing for applicants indicates that no-one should be contacted before then. In practice, however, it has been known for admissions tutors to 'jump the gun' and contact people earlier. In any event, admissions tutors will certainly contact people from Sunday onwards to make offers or to invite you for re-interview. It will be the college that is now considering your application that will contact you, not the one you applied to originally (or were allocated to if you put in an open application). The exception to this is if your preference college has decided to make you an offer after all.

As the timetable shows, people getting ‘direct’ offers ie without re-interview are supposed to be contacted from 6 January; in practice offers come in over the following days, to no particular pattern. Interview lists will have been agreed by the end of 5 January, and the interviews themselves start on 9 January, so if you are going to be invited to attend you should have heard by 8 January at the very latest. International candidates are rarely invited back for re-interview, for obvious reasons.

By the way, if the admissions tutor doesn't get hold of you first time, s/he will try again, or may email you. The decision to make you an offer/invite you for interview has been made, and you won't lose out just because you don't happen to have been able to pick up the call! It is important to check your email (not obsessively, mind you, but regularly, including the spam folders!) as increasingly colleges prefer to use this means to communicate with you, and in any case may email you if they weren't able to get hold of you by telephone.

If I have heard nothing by 15 January, will that mean I’ve been rejected?

If you haven't heard anything at all by 15 January it is unlikely that you have been fished, though not entirely impossible. Every year there are one or two cases where someone gets an offer weeks after everyone else, sometimes without any contact from Cambridge at all between the 'you've been pooled' letter and the offer letter. This is because sometimes colleges interview people from the Pool, and then decide they prefer a candidate they pooled themselves, who didn't get picked up by another college. I emphasise however that these numbers are very small indeed, so the reality is that no news by 15 January is likely to mean a rejection letter is on its way. Most colleges are pretty good about getting their final rejection letters out quickly (they will know by 5 January who hasn't been picked up by another college, and isn't on their own 'pending' list) so most people who have been unlucky will get 'closure' before 15 January. In recent years Cambridge has also updated UCAS much earlier than they used to, which did mean that for some people the first news they had of their rejection showed up on Track.

What are my chances of an offer?
For the last three years, about three out of ten poolees have ended up with offers. Around 80% of these offers will be ‘direct’ ie made without further interview. Of those who are re-interviewed, about 45% will get an offer. It is noticeable that the numbers called back for interview dropped significantly last year (from 530 in 2012 to 441 in 2013) and the success rate dropped too, from around 47% to nearer 43%.

The overall statistics for TSR poolees are about the same as those for all poolees. Last year Cambridge updated their admissions statistics web page so that you can easily see what proportion of offers for a given subject were made through the Pool, and by which colleges: see here. Points to note:

Cambridge does not publish figures by either college or subject as to how many people got pooled - what we have is the overall number of pooled applicants per year, and a college/subject breakdown showing how many pool offers were made.

There is also no breakdown by fee status - so we can't tell how many of the poolees in a given year were internationals, or whether their success rate was any different from the overall rate.

It appears that there is considerable variation from year to year between colleges as to the numbers pooled, which makes sense as this must be a product both of the general standard as well as numbers applying. If you want a good example of this, check out Jesus for Arch and Anth - you'll see that in 2008 they had a sharp rise in the number of applicants, of whom quite a few got offers through the Pool. There are examples some years of where colleges made most of their offers for that year to pooled applicants.

All of which is another way of saying - you can get an overall sense of your chances of success from the statistics Cambridge publishes, but once we get down to fee status, college, or subject (or any combination of these!) it is truly impossible to give you any idea - particularly as the TSR population is not necessarily representative.

I've been invited to attend for re-interview - can another college still make me a direct offer? Can my original college still make me a direct offer?

No to both.

I've been made an offer by another college, without re-interview - will any other college invite me for interview? Can my original college still make me a direct offer anyway?
No to both.

I've been made an offer/called for interview at a women-only college. Can I ask to be considered by a mixed college instead?
No. If this really matters to you, then you will have to make a decision about whether to withdraw your application. However, I'd strongly advise you to check out the college-specific threads elsewhere in the forum - this will reassure you that many others have worried needlessly about whether a women-only college is for them.

How will I find out if more than one college wants to interview me?

Usually the colleges will mention that another will be in touch with you as well. They are expected to liaise to ensure that your timings are reasonable, and also to arrange accommodation for you if you need it. If you've been invited to attend for interview with one college and nothing has been said about any other, you are unlikely to get an interview elsewhere; if you haven't heard from a second college within 24 hours, you definitely won't.

I must have been pooled just because I met the ‘auto-pooling’ criteria. Does that mean I have less chance of getting an offer?
No. Some people expend a lot of energy speculating about which Pool category they might be in. This is totally pointless even if you think you know, you are quite likely to be mistaken - your interview may have gone better or worse than you suppose, for example.

I’ve been pooled from a less ‘popular’ college doesn’t this really mean that I stand no chance of an offer?
It is fair to say that the odds are probably less in your favour, but it’s not unheard of for someone to be pooled from Girton, for instance, and get an offer elsewhere.

Does the wording of my ‘you have been Pooled’ letter give any clues about my chances of an offer?
No. Each college writes their letters individually, and it is a waste of time and energy to speculate about the meaning of differences in their wording.

What about these 'open offers' for Medicine?

Some medicine applicants in the Pool will be considered for an open offer. What this means is that any offer made will not be from a named college; if you meet the conditions of such an offer you are guaranteed a place, but you only get to find out which college you'll be going to in the summer, after Results Day. These offers can come through particularly late, judging by previous years' experience, so if you are in this group you are more likely to have to wait for an outcome, one way or the other.

In case you were wondering, the idea is that by making open offers the university can accommodate good candidates even though all the college places are 'full'. Which college you land up in depends on which applicants miss their offers - candidates with open offers who have met the offer conditions are guaranteed a place, so will get those places instead. It is only when all the open offer candidates who met their offer conditions have been allocated a college that people who missed their offer can be considered for any places left over.

If I haven't been fished by another college, can my original college still take me?
Yes, but if they haven't told you so by 8/9 January it's very unlikely indeed. Most people who get fished by their original college don't even know they were pooled in the first place, because it's all sorted out before the decision letters are posted.

I was re-interviewed at another college but they've said I was unsuccessful. Could the college I originally applied to still make me an offer?
No. For another college to have picked you out of the Pool, your original college must have relinquished all claim to you. Their only responsibility now is to confirm your rejection in writing (the college that re-interviewed you is allowed to let you know the outcome, but the official rejection must come from the college you applied to).

I was re-interviewed at another college but they've said I was unsuccessful.
Will/can any other college consider my application now?

After all that, it was a rejection anyway :sad:
If you have not been successful, hold on to the fact that by being pooled you know you are of Cambridge standard. Wherever you land up, you have every reason to do well, and may even find that it suits you better than Cambridge would have done. It may not feel like it just now, but there is life after a Cambridge rejection.... as I have good reason to know :tongue:

And finally ... Last year's thread can be found here - if you can bear to look....
(edited 1 year ago)

Scroll to see replies

Got pooled for Economics at Pembroke...

Posted from TSR Mobile
Hi there,

Thanks for the thread, very useful info and it made me proud to be pooled!

My pooling info:

College: Trinity
Course: HSPS

Thanks for your time
(edited 10 years ago)
Reply 3
Pooled by Trinity for law as an affiliated student
Reply 4
Pooled by Caius for art history
Reply 5
Best wishes, everyone!
Reply 6
College: Trinity Hall
Course: HSPS

so stressful...
Reply 7
Original post by FranRose
so stressful...
I know - but you will survive it, one way or another.

There will be no news today, so it's a good opportunity to find some stress-reducing distraction and put things out of your mind as much as possible. There is nothing you can or need to do that will change the outcome.

Of course, there's always
Reply 8
College: Trinity
Course: Linguistics

Trying to remain positive, :crossedf: for everyone!
Looks like this is my new home on TSR
College: Trinity
Course: Law
Original post by PierreIsNotMyName
Looks like this is my new home on TSR

I'll join you. Pooled for Econ too.
Reply 12
Pooled for ChemEng via NatSci by Queens'.

What are people's UMS like? Not feeling confident as mine is 97% so the interview must have gone extremely badly

Posted from TSR Mobile
Original post by NedStark
I'll join you. Pooled for Econ too.

Its pretty hard to stay positive. Which college did you apply to? Is it worth compiling a list of colleges that fish out economics applicants from the stats page:
Original post by PierreIsNotMyName
Its pretty hard to stay positive. Which college did you apply to? Is it worth compiling a list of colleges that fish out economics applicants from the stats page:

King's but I was pooled with UMS below the auto-pool mark so that could either be good or bad. Hard to tell.

We could but I'm sure it changes slightly year on year.
Reply 15
Pooled by Trinity Hall for Comp Sci (with Physics)
Reply 16
Original post by ZeqiG
Pooled for ChemEng via NatSci by Queens'.

What are people's UMS like? Not feeling confident as mine is 97% so the interview must have gone extremely badly

Posted from TSR Mobile

On your pooling sheet, your three UMS are placed centrally as well as your school, interview comments etc. ie they are given even more emphasis than when you were initially considered. If anything you're at an advantage :smile:
Original post by NedStark
King's but I was pooled with UMS below the auto-pool mark so that could either be good or bad. Hard to tell.

We could but I'm sure it changes slightly year on year.

Fair enough. Its hard to know, i had UMS above the boundary so I'm not going to try speculating as to whether it was automatic or not.

I might give it a shot now...
Reply 18
Pooled for Classics. I'm actually really happy :P
College: Peterhouse
Course: Natural Sciences (Physical)

A little pleased that it wasn't a straight rejection, but annoyed that I STILL don't know whether or not I'm in. Not really sure what to think either. Peterhouse didn't exactly get overwhelmed by applicants compared to other colleges, but they naturally have less spaces anyway being the smallest college- I think they got more or less the university average of 4 applicants for every place. My UMS was slightly below the 93% mark- 92.6 recurring, but I thought my interview was pretty poor tbh. All in all, I'm very confused about my chances, although leaning towards thinking I've just been pooled as a courtesy rather than fancying my chances of getting an offer.