St John's, Clare, Pembroke - Which to pick?

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    I am about to apply for Economics for 2017 entry at Cambridge.
    And I am very undecided about which college to pick.
    I come from a state school in the North West and am looking for a college that is unpretentious and welcoming however I do not mind if there is a mixture of different types of people. I am also looking for decent accommodation, preferably ensuite but mainly I am looking for a fun central college that has a very good social life and atmosphere.
    So far I like Pembroke, Clare and St John's however I am open to another college of this type that is near enough to the Sidgwick Site.
    I would appreciate it if someone could give me an overview of these colleges' reputations.
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    Ayyy I am also from a state school in the North West and applying to Cambridge this year.
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    I don't know what your gender is or whether you would consider a female only college, but I am applying for Newnham as it is close to Sidgwick site, not too touristy, has modern cooking facilities, tennis, you can sit on the grass, great gardens.
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    Oh and also in the 3rd year you get really nice rooms with garden views and sofas it said somewhere. Rooms aren't allocated by academic achievement, which would be quite depressing if you got lower grades and a bad room all year.
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    I'm went to a state school in the north west and I go to Johns now so hopefully I can provide you with a few insights. Johns has a bit of a reputation for being quite pretentious which might but you off but its really not that bad. Johns is really big so in every year you have a really diverse set of people, yeah you get a few people who are overly pretentious but you get that at every college, there are just more because we're a big college.

    The accommodation is pretty good in Johns, the Cripps building is actually really good (even though it looks like a car park from outside) and a lot of the rooms have en-suites. You pick a room in a ballot system which right now is random unless you get a first in which case you go to the top, but it's looking likely this will change soon so it might no affect you.

    Theres always someone having a party or going out, so the social life is good and for me it has one of the best locations in Cambridge. Near enough to west Cambridge that I don't die cycling there in a morning but still in the centre so you're close to everything.

    I can't speak much about the other colleges but if you have any other questions I'll be happy to answer them for you!
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    Thank you pamplemousse for your response, but I am not looking to go to an all girls college.And thank you Sparticus515 that was really useful, I really enjoy performing arts so I was wondering whether St Johns has a good drama society. Also does the college throw any weekly events/parties like I know Clare college has Clare ents?
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    Pembroke - any day of the week!

    Best wishes for the success of your application,
    Banana
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    Im not really an expert but Clare has really nice accommodation! Spacious rooms and ensuites with nice furniture The bar is really cool as well - it's in the crypt and looks cosy.
    St Johns doesn't seem to suit you, just because it's very prestigious and it seems like you want a more relaxed atmosphere.
    Not sure about Pembroke.
    There's a pros and cons list on TSR to help you choose and the Tumblr 'AskACambridgeStudent' is really useful as well
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    (Original post by kazzab2799)
    Thank you pamplemousse for your response, but I am not looking to go to an all girls college.And thank you Sparticus515 that was really useful, I really enjoy performing arts so I was wondering whether St Johns has a good drama society. Also does the college throw any weekly events/parties like I know Clare college has Clare ents?
    I'm not an actor myself so I don't know too much about it but I know a lot who people in college who are so I would guess there is a good drama scene here.

    So the JCR does throw ents about every two weeks I think but they are... not the best. You can go to Clare Ents even if you don't go to clare though.
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    Yes I was originally going to apply to Clare. However once I checked the admission statistics I realised that Clare has a low acceptance rate compared to these other colleges. About 0.1 compared to 0.15-0.20 for the other colleges I mentioned. So I didn't know whether to be a bit strategic and apply to another college that has a higher acceptance rate. But another thing, I really like the colleges on the river, I know that Johns and Clare are both on the river but Clare has such lovely gardens! There are so many factors I'm considering so I'm really confused but I only have until Friday to decide.
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    Also do people from different colleges mix a lot and attend different colleges' events at night? Or would I mainly be with people from my own college if I were to get an offer.
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    (Original post by kazzab2799)
    Yes I was originally going to apply to Clare. However once I checked the admission statistics I realised that Clare has a low acceptance rate compared to these other colleges. About 0.1 compared to 0.15-0.20 for the other colleges I mentioned. So I didn't know whether to be a bit strategic and apply to another college that has a higher acceptance rate. But another thing, I really like the colleges on the river, I know that Johns and Clare are both on the river but Clare has such lovely gardens! There are so many factors I'm considering so I'm really confused but I only have until Friday to decide.
    I wouldn't base the decision on application statistics- the situation is probably that Clare is oversubscribed and they put quite a few good applicants into the pool who are then accepted by other colleges. If you include pooling there's very little difference in offer rates depending on where you applied.
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    I agree that you should not rely on the statistics in choosing colleges, but if you look closer into the figures, a number of applicants for Clare are actually pooled and accepted by other colleges.

    Unless you are really irritated by the application statistics, you should go with your choice and apply to Clare.
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    (Original post by kazzab2799)
    Yes I was originally going to apply to Clare. However once I checked the admission statistics I realised that Clare has a low acceptance rate compared to these other colleges. About 0.1 compared to 0.15-0.20 for the other colleges I mentioned. So I didn't know whether to be a bit strategic and apply to another college that has a higher acceptance rate. But another thing, I really like the colleges on the river, I know that Johns and Clare are both on the river but Clare has such lovely gardens! There are so many factors I'm considering so I'm really confused but I only have until Friday to decide.
    Forget statistics.
    The real picture is much more complicated than what the numbers seem to imply because of their pooling system.
    Many people apply to seemingly less-competitive colleges, thinking that'd give them a better chance, but what really happens is that those colleges reject weaker direct applicants to their college and give offer to stronger applicants in the pool.
    Their admission system was constructed in the way that they can be sure the university as a whole select stronger candidates, regardless of a choice of college by each candidate.
    Just apply to a college you genuinely prefer. If you're good enough for Cambridge, you're in, no matter which college you applied to.


    Edit:
    To all prospective applicants.
    Please read "About Colleges" section in this OP for the explanation of why playing statistic game doesn't work,
    http://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/show....php?t=3733847
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    (Original post by kazzab2799)
    Yes I was originally going to apply to Clare. However once I checked the admission statistics I realised that Clare has a low acceptance rate compared to these other colleges. About 0.1 compared to 0.15-0.20 for the other colleges I mentioned. So I didn't know whether to be a bit strategic and apply to another college that has a higher acceptance rate. But another thing, I really like the colleges on the river, I know that Johns and Clare are both on the river but Clare has such lovely gardens! There are so many factors I'm considering so I'm really confused but I only have until Friday to decide.
    Ohhhhkay be careful about mentioning acceptance rate.

    One of the big University policies is that admission success/failure is not affected by your choice of college. I think to a certain level this is true, and if anything it might be that popular college application acceptance rate is higher after you consider the pool.
    Furthermore, it's difficult to predict how popular a given college will be. Numbers fluctuate quite considerably. And what's more important is that the quality of applicants vary a lot also. There is no statistic for how many applicants were "unrealistic" applicants. A college could have a "50% admission rate" but if everyone who applied was near-perfect, it's insanely competitive. Similarly, a "10% admission rate" college could be full of unrealistic applications by people who will "give it a go" despite poor grades and shaky enthusiasm and commitment. This isn't as silly as it sounds, I think certain colleges are magnets for weaker applicants.


    BUT (and this is a big but), admissions statistics are somewhat relevant, it just depends on where you want to go and what your exact preferences are.
    If you want to go to a less competitive college, then that's easy and you just apply there.
    If you want to go to a medium-ish college, again you just apply there.

    The complication arises in "I kind of want to go to super competitive college X but I also like medium college Y". A really good applicant who applies to X and just misses out, will be the first taken out of the pool. Who takes people out of the pool first? The least popular colleges who are struggling to make up the numbers [that year].It may seem controversial, but if you 100% want to go to X but 100% want to avoid certain unpopular colleges, you're probably better off applying to college Y which you like maybe 10% less than X. That is my super-safe view on the matter.

    I would only follow this line of logic if you are a bit unsure about your application, and also if certain colleges have MASSIVE downsides. e.g. Girton but you can't cycle or [a college without squash courts] when you really really love squash or [a college without XXXX] when you really want XXXX. I think for most applicants, this isn't a problem and they are happy wherever - in which case they should just apply to the college they like the most. Also if you have a disability (e.g. wheelchair or something) then I am sure this will be factored in, so those kind of concerns aren't part of this.
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    (Original post by R T)
    The complication arises in "I kind of want to go to super competitive college X but I also like medium college Y". A really good applicant who applies to X and just misses out, will be the first taken out of the pool. Who takes people out of the pool first? The least popular colleges who are struggling to make up the numbers [that year].It may seem controversial, but if you 100% want to go to X but 100% want to avoid certain unpopular colleges, you're probably better off applying to college Y which you like maybe 10% less than X. That is my super-safe view on the matter.
    And then you get an offer from college Y and think, hmmm... I wonder if I would have got that offer from my preferred college X in the first place. Oh well, now I'll never know for sure...

    Or you apply to college Y (to avoid college A B or C) and get pooled to A B or C, or rejected outright anyway... and then you notice that applications to your prefered college X were down this year because it was oversubscribed the year before...

    Nope, don't bother trying to double-think all this. Apply to the college you prefer at the outset but don't fret too much over it one way or the other.



    PS. I note you are at John's. Was that your first choice college?
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    (Original post by R T)
    Ohhhhkay be careful about mentioning acceptance rate.

    One of the big University policies is that admission success/failure is not affected by your choice of college. I think to a certain level this is true, and if anything it might be that popular college application acceptance rate is higher after you consider the pool.
    Furthermore, it's difficult to predict how popular a given college will be. Numbers fluctuate quite considerably. And what's more important is that the quality of applicants vary a lot also. There is no statistic for how many applicants were "unrealistic" applicants. A college could have a "50% admission rate" but if everyone who applied was near-perfect, it's insanely competitive. Similarly, a "10% admission rate" college could be full of unrealistic applications by people who will "give it a go" despite poor grades and shaky enthusiasm and commitment. This isn't as silly as it sounds, I think certain colleges are magnets for weaker applicants.


    BUT (and this is a big but), admissions statistics are somewhat relevant, it just depends on where you want to go and what your exact preferences are.
    If you want to go to a less competitive college, then that's easy and you just apply there.
    If you want to go to a medium-ish college, again you just apply there.

    The complication arises in "I kind of want to go to super competitive college X but I also like medium college Y". A really good applicant who applies to X and just misses out, will be the first taken out of the pool. Who takes people out of the pool first? The least popular colleges who are struggling to make up the numbers [that year].It may seem controversial, but if you 100% want to go to X but 100% want to avoid certain unpopular colleges, you're probably better off applying to college Y which you like maybe 10% less than X. That is my super-safe view on the matter.

    I would only follow this line of logic if you are a bit unsure about your application, and also if certain colleges have MASSIVE downsides. e.g. Girton but you can't cycle or [a college without squash courts] when you really really love squash or [a college without XXXX] when you really want XXXX. I think for most applicants, this isn't a problem and they are happy wherever - in which case they should just apply to the college they like the most. Also if you have a disability (e.g. wheelchair or something) then I am sure this will be factored in, so those kind of concerns aren't part of this.
    The most important and concise advice from a former Christ's AT, now Murray Edwards Admissions, from the link above......
    It's never a good idea to play the numbers game - you are trying to play game theory against several hundred or thousands of applicants and second guessing their actions is unlikely to work. The best thing to do is pick the college you like and trust your own abilities.
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    (Original post by jneill)
    And then you get an offer from college Y and think, hmmm... I wonder if I would have got that offer from my preferred college X in the first place. Oh well, now I'll never know for sure...

    Or you apply to college Y (to avoid college A B or C) and get pooled to A B or C, or rejected outright anyway... and then you notice that applications to your prefered college X were down this year because it was oversubscribed the year before...

    Nope, don't bother trying to double-think all this. Apply to the college you prefer at the outset but don't fret too much over it one way or the other.



    PS. I note you are at John's. Was that your first choice college?
    Well honestly, everyone likes whatever college they go to (or at least, almost everyone). I also think after 3 years that colleges vary a hell of a lot less than people think.

    But, in my experience, some factors are relevant. I know people who have moved college because of the hassle after being pooled.

    John's was my first choice of college yes. Personally, I drew up a list of things that I definitely wanted before choosing a college. IIRC:
    -Accommodation guaranteed for 4 years and for grads
    -A large pool of fellows in the subject I was interested in
    -Active in a number of sports teams, particularly rugby and rowing
    -A very good college library, and active college music rooms and bands, etc.
    -Fairly central (although tbh I didn't care massively about that)
    -Large (I went to a small school and didn't enjoy that part of it)
    -Plenty of money and funding for grants, prizes, etc. but also for putting on big events like matriculation, may balls, etc.
    -I wanted a bit of a cambridge experience, so being old and large and stooped in tradition did appeal to me
    -I was interested in doing well, so I was mindful of the Tompkin's table, but much more so how each college was doing and had done historically in the subject I wanted to study

    Having that list pulled up a shortlist of places. IIRC, it was essentially Trinity, John's, Emma, Pembroke, a few others. In the end, I really liked the latter 3 (Trinity didn't "feel" right). After looking at the statistics, John's received the least over the last few years by a factor of about 30-40%. That was what pushed me to apply there. Because I really didn't want to go to certain colleges.


    I honestly disagree, certain factors in certain colleges would have turned me off. Perhaps not enough to go to Imperial or Durham instead, but I think I would have enjoyed my degree a lot less at certain colleges. I was a good applicant, but I was extremely disinterested in what I'd seen from certain places.
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    (Original post by R T)
    Well honestly, everyone likes whatever college they go to (or at least, almost everyone). I also think after 3 years that colleges vary a hell of a lot less than people think.

    But, in my experience, some factors are relevant. I know people who have moved college because of the hassle after being pooled.

    John's was my first choice of college yes. Personally, I drew up a list of things that I definitely wanted before choosing a college. IIRC:
    -Accommodation guaranteed for 4 years and for grads
    -A large pool of fellows in the subject I was interested in
    -Active in a number of sports teams, particularly rugby and rowing
    -A very good college library, and active college music rooms and bands, etc.
    -Fairly central (although tbh I didn't care massively about that)
    -Large (I went to a small school and didn't enjoy that part of it)
    -Plenty of money and funding for grants, prizes, etc. but also for putting on big events like matriculation, may balls, etc.
    -I wanted a bit of a cambridge experience, so being old and large and stooped in tradition did appeal to me
    -I was interested in doing well, so I was mindful of the Tompkin's table, but much more so how each college was doing and had done historically in the subject I wanted to study

    Having that list pulled up a shortlist of places. IIRC, it was essentially Trinity, John's, Emma, Pembroke, a few others. In the end, I really liked the latter 3 (Trinity didn't "feel" right). After looking at the statistics, John's received the least over the last few years by a factor of about 30-40%. That was what pushed me to apply there. Because I really didn't want to go to certain colleges.


    I honestly disagree, certain factors in certain colleges would have turned me off. Perhaps not enough to go to Imperial or Durham instead, but I think I would have enjoyed my degree a lot less at certain colleges. I was a good applicant, but I was extremely disinterested in what I'd seen from certain places.
    And yet many would see John's as highly competitive (because it's a "famous", "rich" college) and by your thinking decide to apply elsewhere...

    What year did you matriculate? Notice the unpredicability of the number of applications at a college level for a specific course:

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    (Original post by jneill)
    And yet many would see John's as highly competitive (because it's a "famous", "rich" college) and by your thinking decide to apply elsewhere...

    What year did you matriculate? Notice the unpredicability of the number of applications at a college level for a specific course:
    Let me be clear: I am explaining my logic here. I am not a champion or an advocate of the "apply to the least popular college" game. But I do believe that if certain things are important and other factors being equal, it isn't sensible to apply for a college with twice as many applicants and the same number of places as another (this was true for NatSci @ Pembroke vs St Johns from 2008-2012). Particularly if you actively want to avoid certain colleges.

    John's had a spike in 2014 which has continued due to the introduction of a new scholarship programme (I dont know exact details but I believe it is $5,000 for anyone under a certain household income, and that threshold is pretty generous).

    Outside of this, I do not see unpredictability and when I looked in 2012 the difference was considerable. By this, I mean John's definitely averaged about 100-110 over 5 years and both Emmanuel and Pembroke were consistently far higher. It was entirely possible that for no reason these numbers changed. IIRC, the only outlier that year was Emmanuel which was a bit lower than it normally was.
    (Original post by vincrows)
    The most important and concise advice from a former Christ's AT, now Murray Edwards Admissions, from the link above......
    I respectfully disagree. How much statistics have you studied so I can give you the most appropriate response given your background?

    If the answer is none, then politely I'd point out that before my 2013 application, I did run statistical models on many courses at colleges which would exceed ~50 applicants and the truth is that numbers are predictable. This is not surprising given that people do not randomly choose a college, and nor do people actively seek to play the numbers game (and even if they did, this would also be something reasonably consistent in the population group). Whilst individuals are not predictable, certain consequences of how people think are. Group dynamics and statistics is a very large and important subject. Colleges very near certain departments are consistently more popular for example.
 
 
 
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