At anyone saying which Oxbridge college you apply to does not affect your chances...

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CancerousProblem
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I think that's honestly quite questionable.

If you think logically, applying to the colleges lower down the Norrington table are likely to slightly easier to get into, although these courses are still very competitive and are still by no means easy to get in.

If an applicant who is just barely good enough to get into one of the lower ranking colleges applies to the lower ranking college, he is just barely good enough, but that is still above the threshold, so he will get in.

However, let's suppose said applicant applies to a very competitive college where all the other applicants are at the top of their game, and can justify being accepted into such an institution.

You would think that the applicant would get pooled, however I see that as extremely unlikely. Although Oxbridge is willing to go through the trouble of pooling the stronger of the applicants that did not manage to get into the college, there is little reason, or evidence that someone who is just barely capable of getting in to one of the much less competitive colleges will be pooled. In addition, the tutors for that college are likely to be seeing the most competitive applications, thus rendering the said applicant to appear comparatively weaker, which will result in him being rejected.

That said, there is still no "easy" college to get into, though applying to certain colleges make it less likely that you will receive a rejection.
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Chlorophile
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(Original post by CancerousProblem)
I think that's honestly quite questionable.

If you think logically, applying to the colleges lower down the Norrington table are likely to slightly easier to get into, although these courses are still very competitive and are still by no means easy to get in.

If an applicant who is just barely good enough to get into one of the lower ranking colleges applies to the lower ranking college, he is just barely good enough, but that is still above the threshold, so he will get in.

However, let's suppose said applicant applies to a very competitive college where all the other applicants are at the top of their game, and can justify being accepted into such an institution.

You would think that the applicant would get pooled, however I see that as extremely unlikely. Although Oxbridge is willing to go through the trouble of pooling the stronger of the applicants that did not manage to get into the college, there is little reason, or evidence that someone who is just barely capable of getting in to one of the much less competitive colleges will be pooled. In addition, the tutors for that college are likely to be seeing the most competitive applications, thus rendering the said applicant to appear comparatively weaker, which will result in him being rejected.

That said, there is still no "easy" college to get into, though applying to certain colleges make it less likely that you will receive a rejection.
You forget that you're not just interviewed at one college. You're interviewed and cross-referenced by tutors from multiple college. There is one standard across the course and colleges aren't obliged to fill all of their spaces. A college that's less popular isn't going to fill their spaces for the sake of it, that's why the pooling system is there in the first place. If your argument is that you're more likely to be reallocated by applying to a more popular college then yes, that's obviously true. But to continue that argument and say that you're therefore less likely to get in isn't true. Colleges cross-reference applicants to ensure there's a common standard.
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Peterhouse Admissions
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All applicants have an equal chance of admission, regardless of which College they apply. At Cambridge, this is ensured through our moderation process, including the circulation of information about applicants to all colleges ahead of interviews and the Winter Pool process following interviews. Colleges routinely pool their own applicants specifically for the purposes of comparing them to applicants from across the university: the Pool is not just for candidates whom their preference College has no further interest in.

Some facts about the Winter Pool in 2014 (from http://www.study.cam.ac.uk/undergrad...rpool_2015.pdf)

29 undergraduate Colleges pooled applicants
3,666 applications were pooled in total (c. 25% of all applicants)
370 pooled applicants were invited for an additional interview
1,041 pooled applicants were made offers, of these:
871 received a direct offer without returning for Pool interviews
170 received offers following a Pool interview
154 pooled applicants received offers from the College that pooled them
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CancerousProblem
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Those statistics dont mean anything
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nexttime
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(Original post by CancerousProblem)
Those statistics dont mean anything
You painted a picture whereby only the really good candidates at the most oversubscribed colleges went into the pool. Those stats show that as completely false. The Oxford ones do the same. More than a third of Oxbridge offers go through the respective pooling systems, >70% at some colleges - that's not an insignificant number.

Remember that both universities use objective measures as well as interviews - admissions tests, UMS marks, etc.

Trawl through the stats and come up with a statistically sound argument if you want. Ultimately no statistic is going to provide a totally clear answer and you will have to have a small amount of faith that tutors want the best candidates at their college and aren't reverting to 5 years old to say 'I'm not going to take an applicant from the pool because I want my own applicants for some reason'. That's exactly the same faith you have when you go to an interview somewhere else where they aren't all done by one person e.g. all other universities.
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Dionysia
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The other replies have answered the question pretty well so I'm not going to add anything there, but it's also worth mentioning that nobody at Oxford (certainly nobody I knew while I was there, and definitely none of my tutors) ever mentions the Norrington Table. I remember that everyone seemed obsessed with it when I was applying, and when I actually got there it was just never spoken of again. It doesn't really tell you anything, and as far as I'm aware has no bearing on choice of applicants at all.
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Peterhouse Admissions
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(Original post by Dionysia)
The other replies have answered the question pretty well so I'm not going to add anything there, but it's also worth mentioning that nobody at Oxford (certainly nobody I knew while I was there, and definitely none of my tutors) ever mentions the Norrington Table. I remember that everyone seemed obsessed with it when I was applying, and when I actually got there it was just never spoken of again. It doesn't really tell you anything, and as far as I'm aware has no bearing on choice of applicants at all.
Yep, exactly my experience as an undergrad at Cambridge too (Tompkins Table). If the degree classes are weighted differently, a very different table results and Colleges can move up and down quite a lot over the years.

I would advise people not to choose a college based on reputation, whether that's a reputation as 'easy to get into' or one of having a tiny proportion more of undergraduates with higher marks. The best way to choose a College is to think where you'd be happy and where you'd feel at home. I know people who chose their College because it had the most ducks, or free tea on the open day!
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the1akshay
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(Original post by Peterhouse Admissions)
All applicants have an equal chance of admission, regardless of which College they apply. At Cambridge, this is ensured through our moderation process, including the circulation of information about applicants to all colleges ahead of interviews and the Winter Pool process following interviews. Colleges routinely pool their own applicants specifically for the purposes of comparing them to applicants from across the university: the Pool is not just for candidates whom their preference College has no further interest in.

Some facts about the Winter Pool in 2014 (from http://www.study.cam.ac.uk/undergrad...rpool_2015.pdf)

29 undergraduate Colleges pooled applicants
3,666 applications were pooled in total (c. 25% of all applicants)
370 pooled applicants were invited for an additional interview
1,041 pooled applicants were made offers, of these:
871 received a direct offer without returning for Pool interviews
170 received offers following a Pool interview
154 pooled applicants received offers from the College that pooled them
I'm not trying to devalue the hard work put into pooling and ensuring that applications are fair on a university-wide basis, but I'm just slightly inclined to agree with OP for the simple, and possibly unjustifiable reason that the pools can never be perfect. With each college having its own admissions tutors, who are after all human, and with applications being subjective in many ways (the personal statement and the interview), I'm just not confident that pooling and re-interviewing could ever fully address college to college imbalances in competitiveness.

Of course, pooling and re-interviewing would address the imbalances most of the time, but a single failure could vastly change a person's life trajectory. For that reason, would it is not be wise to apply to less competitive colleges just in case? That was certainly a very, very tiny portion of my rationale for applying to Corpus Christi (Oxford).
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CancerousProblem
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(Original post by the1akshay)
I'm not trying to devalue the hard work put into pooling and ensuring that applications are fair on a university-wide basis, but I'm just slightly inclined to agree with OP for the simple, and possibly unjustifiable reason that the pools can never be perfect. With each college having its own admissions tutors, who are after all human, and with applications being subjective in many ways (the personal statement and the interview), I'm just not confident that pooling and re-interviewing could ever fully address college to college imbalances in competitiveness.

Of course, pooling and re-interviewing would address the imbalances most of the time, but a single failure could vastly change a person's life trajectory. For that reason, would it is not be wise to apply to less competitive colleges just in case? That was certainly a very, very tiny portion of my rationale for applying to Corpus Christi (Oxford).
Thank you for expressing my point so elegantly
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Wahrheit
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On the flip side people might see their chances of being easier at a lower ranked college causing more people to apply there. Colleges give offers based on 'is this person good enough for Cambridge?' not 'is this person good enough for our college?' or 'we don't have as good applicants this year so we will give more offers. If they don't have as good applicants to their college they'll go fishing, if they have too many good applicants they'll throw some into the pool. It's not perfect but it's as good as they can do. For Oxford I think it makes more of a difference as you only get considered by 2 colleges (correct me if wrong, I'm just basing this off the fact I don't know anybody who got an offer from a college which wasn't the one they applied to or the second college they were assigned when they arrived for interview, I hate anecdotal evidence though so please give input), if both of those are oversubscribed then I guess that would be gg?
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nexttime
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(Original post by the1akshay)
I'm not trying to devalue the hard work put into pooling and ensuring that applications are fair on a university-wide basis, but I'm just slightly inclined to agree with OP for the simple, and possibly unjustifiable reason that the pools can never be perfect. With each college having its own admissions tutors, who are after all human, and with applications being subjective in many ways (the personal statement and the interview), I'm just not confident that pooling and re-interviewing could ever fully address college to college imbalances in competitiveness.

Of course, pooling and re-interviewing would address the imbalances most of the time, but a single failure could vastly change a person's life trajectory. For that reason, would it is not be wise to apply to less competitive colleges just in case? That was certainly a very, very tiny portion of my rationale for applying to Corpus Christi (Oxford).
Can you tell me with certainty that the opposite cannot happen? That a college with few applicants might assume that there are people better in the pool and take an applicant from a big, prestigious college because they surely get better applicants, right?
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Doones
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(Original post by nexttime)
Can you tell me with certainty that the opposite cannot happen? That a college with few applicants might assume that there are people better in the pool and take an applicant from a big, prestigious college because they surely get better applicants, right?
Yep. Or even a college with many applicants but none of them especially good (because they think it's an "easy" college) may reject all direct applicants and instead fish good candidates from the pool. This happens.

Edit to add: for example, in 2011 Downing rejected all direct English applicants and only took pool candidates, but in 2014 they only took direct applicants, none from the pool. Playing the stats game is not a good idea.

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Peterhouse Admissions
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(Original post by nexttime)
Can you tell me with certainty that the opposite cannot happen? That a college with few applicants might assume that there are people better in the pool and take an applicant from a big, prestigious college because they surely get better applicants, right?
One important point is that subject moderation spreadsheets are circulated even before invitations to interview are issued. These contain information about all applicants to a subject across the entire university. Interviewers know what else is out there and how their applicants compare to the field across the entire university. They don't have to assume how their college compares, they can tell (at least based on the paper applications). The spreadsheets also allow Admissions Tutors to make a wishlist of particular applicants or to head straight for the files of a certain college when they get to the pool.

As pointed out elsewhere in the thread, it is not uncommon for a college to reject all of their direct applicants in a subject and either fish from the pool, or just not have any students in that subject in that year (this can and does happen).

Another point which is often overlooked is that the pool is primarily a moderation process and many candidates are pooled for the purposes of comparison, only to be taken up by the college which pooled them. Colleges are encouraged to pool at least the lowest-ranked applicant to which they wish to make an offer for this reason. There are processes in place to allow preference colleges 'first dibs' on a candidate for the first day of the pool.

The pool is not just for candidates the preference college has no further interest in.
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Paladian
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I think the OP is probably right but the difference is so marginal that it becomes irrelevant.
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jenkinsear
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(Original post by CancerousProblem)
I think that's honestly quite questionable.

If you think logically, applying to the colleges lower down the Norrington table are likely to slightly easier to get into, although these courses are still very competitive and are still by no means easy to get in.

If an applicant who is just barely good enough to get into one of the lower ranking colleges applies to the lower ranking college, he is just barely good enough, but that is still above the threshold, so he will get in.

However, let's suppose said applicant applies to a very competitive college where all the other applicants are at the top of their game, and can justify being accepted into such an institution.

You would think that the applicant would get pooled, however I see that as extremely unlikely. Although Oxbridge is willing to go through the trouble of pooling the stronger of the applicants that did not manage to get into the college, there is little reason, or evidence that someone who is just barely capable of getting in to one of the much less competitive colleges will be pooled. In addition, the tutors for that college are likely to be seeing the most competitive applications, thus rendering the said applicant to appear comparatively weaker, which will result in him being rejected.

That said, there is still no "easy" college to get into, though applying to certain colleges make it less likely that you will receive a rejection.
Realistically, College choice can matter. I know from my own experiences that certain tutors at certain colleges have cut off points for GCSE grades, or haven't taken anyone in the last 10 years with grades below x number of A*'s at GCSE. Some are more transparent about this than others- I recall going on an open day at Cambridge many years ago and the tutor at the College I had lunch at freely admitting nobody has got in with less than 8A*'s since the 1990's for that course. Most of the time, I find such conventions are not so freely admitted to.

If you're a candidate who manages to get an insight into this you are much better placed in knowing where to avoid. The value of this is lessened when faculties have measures in place to review applications that the Colleges themselves haven't made interview offers to (as Oxford do for law for example) but it remains a factor.
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Doones
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(Original post by jenkinsear)
... many years ago...


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jenkinsear
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Your point being.....?
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CancerousProblem
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That is quite shocking. As someone who does not have 8A*s at GCSE, is there a list of which colleges to avoid?
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umutalberts
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The biggest way college choice cab affect you is having to sit different admissions tests and interviews

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Illiberal Liberal
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(Original post by Peterhouse Admissions)
Some facts about the Winter Pool in 2014 (from http://www.study.cam.ac.uk/undergrad...rpool_2015.pdf)

29 undergraduate Colleges pooled applicants
It would be interesting to analyse the distribution of pooled applicants by subject/college.

If it was to be found that the distribution of pooled applicants was in fact skewed towards certain subjects (at certain colleges) consistently, would this not, at the very least, potentially lend some credence to OP's argument?
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