Should I reject Cambridge? Watch

TempestLaw
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#21
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Go to another open day for both, maybe plan a nice trip to their campuses'. What I will say however is you do not need to worry about this as much as you think. Both are excellent universities and chances are you'll love both when you get into the degree, so this isn't a life changing decision, so no need to worry about the infinite arguments and paranoia (I have been there) of the "what if I want this but don't know it". I would argue given how credible both universities are, it would be the course that should merit this much worrying as that has far more of an impact on what you might like to do in the future.

Btw, it may seem silly, assign a university to each side of the coin, flip it, but do not look at what the result is. Ask yourself as the coin was flipping, which university you felt you wanted it to land on. I wouldnt base my whole decision on this but it may help
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MaryBell21
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(Original post by Dandandalaxy)
Just remember you've got until the 1st of May to make your decision. Do what's right for you but please don't rush into it.
I didn't know I had that long. Thank you for your helpful advice.
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Sinnoh
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Anyway, it's not as if Durham won't end up being massively helpful, and the argument that Cambridge is a "once in a lifetime opportunity" doesn't make much sense anyway - not many people do an undergraduate degree twice! Solent university is a once in a lifetime opportunity by that logic. You want to go to Durham, you're excited about going to Durham and you never really have given a damn about Cambridge until now.

The main reason I'm seeing for this dilemma is that Cambridge tends to be really hyped up and that friends would probably find it hard to understand why you didn't take the offer.
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nightisdark
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(Original post by MaryBell21)
Wow that's amazing! Is that the decision you are going to make?
Yes — i just love Durham & due to a lot of mental health issues I felt the nearer uni would suit me best! As well - Cambridge is literally one rank higher in the university guide for History but I’d rather enjoy uni & be nearer home (and it’s still an amazing uni).

Honestly, don’t go with it out of prestige and all that but where you think you’ll be more comfortable. Your comfort and happiness is the most important thing, not the prestige of the university
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MaryBell21
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(Original post by Lemon1806)
Hi! I’ve recently also received an offer to study History at Cambridge, and have also applied to Durham. For me I’ve always wanted to go to Cambridge, so I suppose the choice is easier, but I understand the pressures put on people to apply and definitely accept Oxbridge.
If possible, I would attend the Durham offer holders day and try to find a time to visit your college at Cambridge to get a feel of both environments. If you find Durham still feels like it is best for you then I see no reason why you should choose Cambridge just because of its reputation. After all, the workload is greater at Cambridge and you may find yourself thinking “I should have gone where I really wanted”.

On the other hand, you may visit your Cambridge college and absolutely love it and the environment there and you may end up being swayed. Therefore, I’d definitely take the time to visit both if you can (even if you already have).

Seeing as the Durham offer is AAA, if you did choose Cambridge at the end of the day durham could be your insurance meaning even if you do not meet the offer you’d still have a university you love to go to!!
But really my main point is go visit or try and find some sort of virtual tour if you cannot travel

(Congrats on both offers btw, they are both excellent institutions)
First of all huge congratulations to you too! Thank you for your reply, your advice has been great. Stupidly, I forgot that I still have the ability to visit both institutions before I make my decision. Best of luck!
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Solicon
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(Original post by MaryBell21)
Hi guys, so basically I am an A-Level student in year 13 preparing to attend university this September. My dream university was Durham Univerisity, which I was very pleased to receive an offer from to study History (grades needed: AAA).

I had always planned on applying to Oxbridge, just to see what would happen, nothing more, as I genuinely didn't believe I had the ability to succeed in the application process. Nevertheless, I did not want to have any regrets and go about my life with the question 'Could I have gotten into Oxbridge?' unanswered. Then I thought this was stupid so I decided to not apply and just apply for the universities I thought were for me.

But then because I did not have another uni to fill my 5th choice, I applied. During the application process, I worked hard but not my hardest and at each stage, I was convinced that it would be my last. All throughout the process, I continued to dream about my time at Durham and how this was definitely a university and course I wanted to work hard for.

But then, I got an offer from Cambridge (as you probably guessed from the title). I never in a million years thought that this would happen, especially considering how little I wanted it and honestly how little I did for it in comparison to others and my usual standard (I had worked much harder for other situations). Now I am confused as to what to do.

My gut has always said Durham Durham Durham, but now I have voices whispering in my ear that Cambridge is a once in a lifetime opportunity and that I'd be sabotaging my own career if I were to turn it down. But Durham is 30 minutes from my family (Cambridge is 4 hours)*, it has a course that I really enjoy and it is a dream that I have been working for a very long time. I understand that Cambridge is an amazing university and I feel incredibly grateful (and shocked) to have recieved an offer, but I want to pick the university that feels right for me not just because it has a fancy reuputation.

I just don't know what to do. Do I go with my gut? Or do I pick the sensible option that could potentially 'set me for life' (provided I do actually get the grades and attend the uni and achieve an excellent degree).

*I understand university is a time of indepdence, but I can't help but let this factor dissaude me.
Go where you really want to do go, but remember that courses are usually never how you imagine they are going to be, and even if you go to Durham it probably won't be a bed of roses, nor will the course be 100% what you expect.

That being said, Cambridge is very academic (as is Durham) in the sense that I think the workload is higher. Cambridge really is a once in a lifetime opportunity HOWEVER, so is Durham University - they are both excellent, however I will say that if you ever move abroad to the US, Australia, Asia, Latin America, or elsewhere in Europe, more people will recognise the name Cambridge than Durham and unfortunately that is what matters for your career.

I think you should choose Cambridge - you didn't expect to get in and it may seem like the universe is guiding you there by you getting an offer when you didn't expect/work to your full capacity to get one. However, both are amazing universities and at the end of the day, university is what you put into it and if you want to study hard and make good friends, you will not regret having gone to either university.
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threeportdrift
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(Original post by MaryBell21)
.................
Be very wary of 'gut choices' or 'instincts' or anything that isn't evidenced. Where would you be now if you'd acted on every gut feeling and instinct you had when you were 12 or 13? Somewhere pretty stupid if you were an average 12 year old.

You will do a heck of a lot of 'growing up', maturing and changing at University. You need to make a decision now that is right when you are graduating in 4-5 years time (and beyond) - chances are that's going to be best made on evidence, not gut choices.
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MaryBell21
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(Original post by TempestLaw)
Go to another open day for both, maybe plan a nice trip to their campuses'. What I will say however is you do not need to worry about this as much as you think. Both are excellent universities and chances are you'll love both when you get into the degree, so this isn't a life changing decision, so no need to worry about the infinite arguments and paranoia (I have been there) of the "what if I want this but don't know it". I would argue given how credible both universities are, it would be the course that should merit this much worrying as that has far more of an impact on what you might like to do in the future.

Btw, it may seem silly, assign a university to each side of the coin, flip it, but do not look at what the result is. Ask yourself as the coin was flipping, which university you felt you wanted it to land on. I wouldnt base my whole decision on this but it may help
You have literally grasped my situation perfectly. Thank you for your advice!
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Lemon1806
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(Original post by MaryBell21)
First of all huge congratulations to you too! Thank you for your reply, your advice has been great. Stupidly, I forgot that I still have the ability to visit both institutions before I make my decision. Best of luck!
Thank you Best of luck to you too!!
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BasicMistake
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(Original post by MaryBell21)
This another dilemma in my life. I've always wanted to do history, then complete a conversion course to law (GDL) and then the LPC. But I'm not so sure anymore.
Your situation is almost similar to a friend of mine's. She wanted to do a history degree followed by a law conversion. Her dream uni was Durham but she was rejected so she went to Oxford instead. In a sense she was lucky in that she didn't have the angst of choice as you do now.

The best piece of advice has already been given a few times and go to the university where you will be happiest. Durham is by no means a bad university, especially when we're talking about history.

What I will say is try and evaluate Cambridge on your own terms. I see you already prefer the course at Durham but in terms of lifestyle and the location, have you visited Cambridge for open days? I'd say that they have more in common than otherwise but definitely try and get a feel for both places.

Also, can I ask which college you're with for Cambridge? College will also affect your choice so think about that when you're visiting.
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MaryBell21
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#31
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(Original post by Sinnoh)
Anyway, it's not as if Durham won't end up being massively helpful, and the argument that Cambridge is a "once in a lifetime opportunity" doesn't make much sense anyway - not many people do an undergraduate degree twice! Solent university is a once in a lifetime opportunity by that logic. You want to go to Durham, you're excited about going to Durham and you never really have given a damn about Cambridge until now.

The main reason I'm seeing for this dilemma is that Cambridge tends to be really hyped up and that friends would probably find it hard to understand why you didn't take the offer.
hahahaha you are very right there! and yes that is exactly my situation. I am normally not too heavily influenced by the opinions of others. But sadly, I have been instilled with the fear that denying Cambridge would be the equivalent of throwing my future career down the drain.
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BlueIndigoViolet
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#32
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(Original post by MaryBell21)
hahahaha you are very right there! and yes that is exactly my situation. I am normally not too heavily influenced by the opinions of others. But sadly, I have been instilled with the fear that denying Cambridge would be the equivalent of throwing my future career down the drain.
in all honesty, my answer is no - people aim for Oxbridge specifically not many Durham for a reason - it opens many doors - yes it is challenging but not the living hell it is often made out to be...
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MaryBell21
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(Original post by BasicMistake)
Your situation is almost similar to a friend of mine's. She wanted to do a history degree followed by a law conversion. Her dream uni was Durham but she was rejected so she went to Oxford instead. In a sense she was lucky in that she didn't have the angst of choice as you do now.

The best piece of advice has already been given a few times and go to the university where you will be happiest. Durham is by no means a bad university, especially when we're talking about history.

What I will say is try and evaluate Cambridge on your own terms. I see you already prefer the course at Durham but in terms of lifestyle and the location, have you visited Cambridge for open days? I'd say that they have more in common than otherwise but definitely try and get a feel for both places.

Also, can I ask which college you're with for Cambridge? College will also affect your choice so think about that when you're visiting.
I have visited Cambridge on 2 occasions (both for 3 days) and have stayed at the college I have applied for, Jesus college, for 3 days also. I definitely enjoyed my college stay, although I definitely faced some issues with the city itself. Especially as I'm used to Newcastle and I am a Muslim with a halal diet!
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MaryBell21
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(Original post by BlueIndigoViolet)
in all honesty, my answer is no - people aim for Oxbridge specifically not many Durham for a reason - it opens many doors - yes it is challenging but not the living hell it is often made out to be...
This is my dilemma. I know I should take advantage of the very reason people target Cambridge - its opportunities for career advancement. My dilemma is, that I am unsure if I am willing to sacrifice my personal happiness on the prospect of attaining a good job, or even just to satisfy those who share such a view.
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MaryBell21
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#35
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(Original post by nightisdark)
Yes — i just love Durham & due to a lot of mental health issues I felt the nearer uni would suit me best! As well - Cambridge is literally one rank higher in the university guide for History but I’d rather enjoy uni & be nearer home (and it’s still an amazing uni).

Honestly, don’t go with it out of prestige and all that but where you think you’ll be more comfortable. Your comfort and happiness is the most important thing, not the prestige of the university
This is exactly what I am thinking and feeling! Thank you, best of luck for the future. I might see you at Durham one day haha!
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JennyFromTblock
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A University lecturer here.... Oxbridge is a very different experience. Think about what you want to get from University and compare that to the daily life of a student at Durham to that of a student at Cambridge. Think about whether you feel you would fit in with the other students and the culture, which includes things such as the nature of work and play, living in Collage or Halls, gowns, formal dinners, all that sort of thing. From personal experience I would advise against taking up an opportunity just because you are flattered to have been offered it. A young person with your talents will have a host of opportunities ahead of you: you are in the privileged position of being able to make choices based upon your preferences. It may be that entrance to your intended future career would be made a million times easier with a degree from Cambridge rather than Durham: that could be one reason to act against your gut instinct (though I struggle to think of any career where that would be the case). It may be that reading at Cambridge would enable you access to other opportunities that Durham would not (for example, being in the Footlights). Many top students choose a Russel Group University for their degree over Oxbridge, and they do not suffer as a result, but rather thrive as they are in an environment with a culture that suits them. You don’t have to do something just because you can. But it’s worth looking into (and definitely attend an open day) before writing off an alternative to your inital choice.

Another thing to note is that it is not uncommon for undergraduates to change universities after their first year. Sometimes students are genuinely torn, make a choice, are very unhappy, and the start again at a different university. This obviously has implications in terms of finances and lack of guarantee of being re-accepted, but it is possible. So if fear is what is holding you back from accepting Cambridge, do remember that if you are dreadfully unhappy, you don’t have to stay there.
Last edited by JennyFromTblock; 2 months ago
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04MR17
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(Original post by MaryBell21)
I feel as though the course at Durham is more flexible, whereas Cambridge is quite focused on European and British History (especially first year). I can genuinely see myself at Durham for 3 years, and I can see myself happy too. I'm also concerned about the workload and living situation at Cambridge. I've spent 2 years hating my life at A-level I don't want to be working hard now just to spend 3 years of my life anxious and stressed at Cambridge (a bit melodramatic I know but I'm stressed with this dilemma).
First of all, well done. Second, Durham is Medieval history intensive. That's not a bad thing necessarily but if you're looking for a history degree without medieval stuff then you'll be hard-pushed to avoid the Medieval stuff at Durham, even with a huge faculty.

That aside, did you enjoy your time at college for interview at Cambridge? It's a very unique environment which isn't for everyone: but how did you find it? Did you feel yourself relax into the atmosphere there or become more insular due to it?

It needs to be said that there's no shame in rejecting Cambridge. I did it and I don't regret the choice (wouldn't have got the grades anyway so worthwhile).

And also, don't let anyone pressure you. It's your decision, you have time to make it and nobody else is doing this degree for you. Do what's right for you.
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MaryBell21
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(Original post by 04MR17)
First of all, well done. Second, Durham is Medieval history intensive. That's not a bad thing necessarily but if you're looking for a history degree without medieval stuff then you'll be hard-pushed to avoid the Medieval stuff at Durham, even with a huge faculty.

That aside, did you enjoy your time at college for interview at Cambridge? It's a very unique environment which isn't for everyone: but how did you find it? Did you feel yourself relax into the atmosphere there or become more insular due to it?

It needs to be said that there's no shame in rejecting Cambridge. I did it and I don't regret the choice (wouldn't have got the grades anyway so worthwhile).

And also, don't let anyone pressure you. It's your decision, you have time to make it and nobody else is doing this degree for you. Do what's right for you.
Thank you for your insight. My time at college for the interview was somewhat distorted. My parents stayed nearby in the city (my dad had business to conduct so my mam tagged along) so I felt quite safe and comfortable having them there in that sense. I did feel the atmosphere was quite scary and when I was left on my own, but obviously, this was due to a mixture of unfamiliarity and nerves. On the open day, I enjoyed the college stay it was quite nice. However, if asked if I could see me in that atmosphere for a long period of time, as opposed to a day or two. The answer would be no, but I feel this has more to do with this being something strange to me rather than a general dislike for the college atmosphere.
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MaryBell21
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#39
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(Original post by JennyFromTblock)
A University lecturer here.... Oxbridge is a very different experience. Think about what you want to get from University and compare that to the daily life of a student at Durham to that of a student at Cambridge. Think about whether you feel you would fit in with the other students and the culture, which includes things such as the nature of work and play, living in Collage or Halls, gowns, formal dinners, all that sort of thing. From personal experience I would advise against taking up an opportunity just because you are flattered to have been offered it. A young person with your talents will have a host of opportunities ahead of you: you are in the privileged position of being able to make choices based upon your preferences. It may be that entrance to your intended future career would be made a million times easier with a degree from Cambridge rather than Durham: that could be one reason to act against your gut instinct (though I struggle to think of any career where that would be the case). It may be that reading at Cambridge would enable you access to other opportunities that Durham would not (for example, being in the Footlights). Many top students choose a Russel Group University for their degree over Oxbridge, and they do not suffer as a result, but rather thrive as they are in an environment with a culture that suits them. You don’t have to do something just because you can. But it’s worth looking into (and definitely attend an open day) before writing off an alternative to your inital choice.

Another thing to note is that it is not uncommon for undergraduates to change universities after their first year. Sometimes students are genuinely torn, make a choice, are very unhappy, and the start again at a different university. This obviously has implications in terms of finances and lack of guarantee of being re-accepted, but it is possible. So if fear is what is holding you back from accepting Cambridge, do remember that if you are dreadfully unhappy, you don’t have to stay there.
Thank you so much for this incredible piece of advice. I definitely feel as though I flourish in a more relaxed, as opposed to a competitive background as seen in Cambridge. Nonetheless, your suggestion that university choice is not concrete, is valid. I definitely feel as though fear is a key element preventing me from accepting, but at the same time it is also a key element preventing me from rejecting. If I accept I could potentially backtrack my education if I decline I could potentially regret it for the rest of my life.
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MaryBell21
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#40
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I just wanna say a quick thank you to everyone who has taken their time to give me some reassuring advice so far. I know that this may seem like a decision that I am being quite dramatic about, but I just really want to make sure I make this decision carefully. I have definitely received some fantastic suggestions that I will certainly put your wise words to use.
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