Should I reject Cambridge? Watch

MaryBell21
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#41
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(Original post by threeportdrift)
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.
What would you personally evidence is the correct choice? I feel like said evidence (if referring to which university will offer the better advantage) is so subjective, and differs individual to individual. With that in mind, I suppose I recognise gut instincts and emotions as a huge factor in the decision making process.
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JennyFromTblock
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(Original post by MaryBell21)
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.
I don’t think it likely you’d regret it for the rest of your life. What would there be to regret? Gaining an excellent degree from an excellent University (Durham)? If there is anything about reading History at Cambridge that you think you would not gain from reading History at Durham, then perhaps there is some chance of some regret. But if it’s just the prestige of being able to answer ‘Cambridge’ to questions on job applications and at dinner parties.... If you think you’ll thrive at Durham over Cambridge, then consider this, if your worry is about prestige: which is better, a first class degree from Durham or a 2:2 from Cambridge? It’s not only more competitive, they also have different teaching styles (you may find you have to write one or more essays every week to be discussed in tutorials at Cambridge, whereas at Durham you will have weekly readings and group discussions). Find out as much as you can about how the courses will be both delivered and assessed, visit and spend time wandering around different colleges and talking to people, visit the accommodation and find out about the rules regarding dining, dress and so forth. Of all other Universities Durham is the closest in culture to Oxbridge, but there are still huge differences. I think it’s vital that you spend as much time there as you can to understand this. They are both beautiful cities and excellent Universities. I strongly advise you to choose somewhere you think you will feel happy, comfortable, and where you will enjoy what will hopefully turn out to be 3 of the best years of your life.
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04MR17
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(Original post by MaryBell21)
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.
If you didn't feel that comfortable at Cam, and feel more secure with nearby parents, go Durham.
Personally.
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Kevin:)
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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).
I’d have to disagree there. I’m a first year historian at Cambridge and the breadth of history we study is incredible. It’s one of the best history faculties in the world and I can clearly see why. Think very carefully before making a decision.
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JennyFromTblock
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(Original post by MaryBell21)
What would you personally evidence is the correct choice? I feel like said evidence (if referring to which university will offer the better advantage) is so subjective, and differs individual to individual. With that in mind, I suppose I recognise gut instincts and emotions as a huge factor in the decision making process.
Absolutely. So many students are dreadfully unhappy, which can lead to dropping out, but also things such as substance abuse and other coping strategies that hamper future success and happiness. Problems with student well-being are at an all-time high, and given how stressful university life can be in these times, I would advise any student to seriously consider their perceived emotional well-being when making a choice as to where and what to study.
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Kandiman
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This'll just repeat what others have said but go with your gut.

The first time I went to uni, I turned down Cambridge, Harvard, Yale and Princeton... to go to Teesside.

Weird? Maybe. But the subject I was interested in was actually taught more directly in Middlesbrough. Shockingly... I don't regret it.

I'm now on my second degree and I'm less-than-happy where I am now (although it is, in theory, a better school than Teesside), but I'm also very aware of the fact that I'm not dead yet. If the urge takes me to go to a fancy school for a Masters or a PhD, I've still got the option in the future.

Go with what feels right for you now. You're better off choosing the option you're sort of sure will make you happy than choosing the one that you think is more glamorous. Truthfully, your future employer probably doesn't care that much if you choose Durham or Cambridge, as long as you get a good degree. They're worth about the same anyway.
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MARTYFARTY
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From a parental perspective:

My son offers to both Cambridge and Durham for Languages

He decided a few years ago that Cambridge was where he would like to study and due to its close proximity (30 miles) it has been easier to assess its suitability and really scrutinise the course, so at this point in time we are sure this is the right place for him.

We visited Durham last summer on their open day and whilst we were impressed, it did leave us with some reservations. They weren't over enthusiastic about the course in their presentation and there appears to be a strong drinking culture at the university, which was more bragged about by student helpers! - but the distance from home is also a factor for us.

Financially I worked out that the structure of the living costs at Cambridge is more straightforward than Durham and dare I say potentially cheaper.

I would definitely take a second look at Cambridge and wish your luck with your decision.
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JennyFromTblock
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(Original post by Kandiman)
This'll just repeat what others have said but go with your gut.

The first time I went to uni, I turned down Cambridge, Harvard, Yale and Princeton... to go to Teesside.

Weird? Maybe. But the subject I was interested in was actually taught more directly in Middlesbrough. Shockingly... I don't regret it.

I'm now on my second degree and I'm less-than-happy where I am now (although it is, in theory, a better school than Teesside), but I'm also very aware of the fact that I'm not dead yet. If the urge takes me to go to a fancy school for a Masters or a PhD, I've still got the option in the future.

Go with what feels right for you now. You're better off choosing the option you're sort of sure will make you happy than choosing the one that you think is more glamorous. Truthfully, your future employer probably doesn't care that much if you choose Durham or Cambridge, as long as you get a good degree. They're worth about the same anyway.
Completely agree that they are ‘worth about the same’, and repeat my observation that a first from Durham trumps a second from Cambridge. I work for both Oxbridge and Russel Group Universities. If you are aiming for a particular graduate scheme with a particular firm, an Oxbridge degree might provide additional attraction (for example, some firms of solicitors require that their sponsored students get their degrees from Cambridge). If you are not getting a degree for a particular purpose such as this then I would not worry about this sort of thing.

I’d also point out that, unfortunately, a young woman from the North East (as I am myself) is unlikely to find many other young women from the North East at Cambridge. One could make the point that being put off by this perpetuates the cycle and such provides reason for being the catalyst for change. But the burden of changing societal trends does not fall in your shoulders: obviously you should not feel obliged to accept a place in order to fufil a university’s diversity aims. Being anything other than white, having a regional accent, a state-school education: all of these things will tick a university’s diversity boxes but will mean that you will find yourself quite different from the vast majority of your peers. Although this is true generally true of university education, it is infamously pronounced at Oxbridge. For some, this is no problem, or even greeted with relish. For others it produces intense feelings of isolation. On the upside, Oxbridge terms are very short, so should you be miserable there will only ever be a few weeks until you can return home. On the downside, your years at university can be some of the best of your life, and they are also important from a formative perspective, thus being happy perhaps should trump all other considerations. In addition, there is always the option, should you later just long to be able to write ‘Cambridge’ on your CV, of spending just one year there afterwards obtaining a Masters degree! 😀

Student welfare is of immense importance to many teaching fellows/lecturers/tutors, and it is because of this that I have weighed-in on this question. It is worth enquiring about pastoral support at any university that any prospective student is considering. If will be there, but sometimes you have to ask to find it. Wherever you choose to go, make good use of your personal tutor/ academic advisor within your school, and your pastoral tutor/fellow/residential advisor within your college or hall of residence. We want you to flourish, not drown 🤗
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JennyFromTblock
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(Original post by MARTYFARTY)
From a parental perspective:

My son offers to both Cambridge and Durham for Languages

He decided a few years ago that Cambridge was where he would like to study and due to its close proximity (30 miles) it has been easier to assess its suitability and really scrutinise the course, so at this point in time we are sure this is the right place for him.

We visited Durham last summer on their open day and whilst we were impressed, it did leave us with some reservations. They weren't over enthusiastic about the course in their presentation and there appears to be a strong drinking culture at the university, which was more bragged about by student helpers! - but the distance from home is also a factor for us.

Financially I worked out that the structure of the living costs at Cambridge is more straightforward than Durham and dare I say potentially cheaper.

I would definitely take a second look at Cambridge and wish your luck with your decision.
There is a strong drinking culture at all universities: such is the current culture!
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JennyFromTblock
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(Original post by MaryBell21)
I agree. Anyone can regret going anywhere.
I know people who were absolutely miserable at Oxbridge and wish they’d gone to a ‘normal’ university. (I also know people who absolutely loved the Oxbridge culture - the formal dinners, being part of the Cambridge Blues (sports teams, traditionally pitted against Oxford, in rugby, rowing and so forth), all the pomp and circumstance, the outstanding architecture...)
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threeportdrift
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(Original post by MaryBell21)
What would you personally evidence is the correct choice? I feel like said evidence (if referring to which university will offer the better advantage) is so subjective, and differs individual to individual. With that in mind, I suppose I recognise gut instincts and emotions as a huge factor in the decision making process.
Value for money - both cost the same amount of money, on average you'll get a 2.1 from either institution. Which one leverages the better career prospects and future opportunities for the cost? Which has the most financial support and minimises your debt?

What decision might you wish you had made when you are 23 or so ie as a career starter, given the economic world we might be living in?


In the career sectors you are interested in, what are the patterns of degree institution? What are the opportunities offered by the unis in terms of careers advise and support, which employers visit etc, how broad are their careers events etc.

How diverse are their Clubs and Societies, and how many do they have, will you have the opportunity to do the activities you want/need?

The Oxbridge pressure is over-hyped. You only have to read TSR to see that some students fail to flourish wherever they are.
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Klotild
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Hopefully there will be a balance.
Too much rationalising/ignoring visceral feelings, especially when it is about ONESELF, can lead to bad decisions too...
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HobbinsE
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Choose the university you think you’ll be happiest at. Don’t let prestige and other people’s opinions cloud you’re judgement at the end of the day it’s more about the grade you come out with than where you got the degree from.
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Kandiman
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(Original post by JennyFromTblock)
I’d also point out that, unfortunately, a young woman from the North East (as I am myself) is unlikely to find many other young women from the North East at Cambridge.
Worth noting that this actually works both ways - as a southerner in the North East, I was always something of an outcast and just got lucky that the most northern of my housemates was from Sheffield.

That said, I'm currently studying in Oxford and I know a lot of Geordies, Smoggies and Mackems who are at Oxford, so I'd say the gap is closing at Oxbridge - I don't think it's sheer luck that I've found them because they're certainly not the only ones. I can't speak for Cambridge as a certainty, but I have a friend who just graduated and she's mentioned having a few folks from the North East around.
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Doones
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(Original post by JennyFromTblock)
Absolutely. So many students are dreadfully unhappy, which can lead to dropping out, but also things such as substance abuse and other coping strategies that hamper future success and happiness. Problems with student well-being are at an all-time high, and given how stressful university life can be in these times, I would advise any student to seriously consider their perceived emotional well-being when making a choice as to where and what to study.
And, just for the avoidance of doubt, this comment applies to all universities not just Oxbridge.

Indeed Cambridge ranks pretty well in terms of overall MH support:
https://thetab.com/2017-mental-health-rankings
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Dromedary
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Cambridge really doesn't have that kind of magic effect on your life. Durham has a great reputation too. Go for the best course.
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abigailxo
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Hi! I’m making a similar decision - History at Cambridge or another Uni I love. I think you just have to go with your gut and which course/city you prefer because at the end of the day it’s three years of your life, and if you’re motivated I’m sure you’ll do well wherever you go. Maybe try printing off the course info and highlighting which modules you’d want to study, and drawing up a pros and cons list, hopefully it will then become clearer message me if you need because I’m going through the same thing and I’m always happy to talk x
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Muttley79
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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).
Rejecting Oxbridge is more common than either university will admit. Everything I've read in your first post screams 'choose Durham'.

I know plenty of people who have rejected Oxbridge and go on to amazing careers. Some have later done a postgrad at Oxbridge - never feel you HAVE to accept any offer..
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TheExtremeGoat
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I'm having the exact same dilemma for HSPS, drop me a message if needs be
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scorpiorules
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It seems to me you are quite an anxious person, with perfectionist tendancies... I think the pressure of Cambridge could be overwhelming?

I also think you should consider how welcoming you found it. I have a friend currently at Cambridge and from the social media pics they obviously havent cracked the diversity issue yet. Could that be why you got an offer even though you didnt try to hard? Do you want to feel you are being given “special” treatment?

That being said, there is no denying its reputation, but I can tell you many people step foot on a particular campus and just feel they “belong”. If Durham does that for you then go to Durham and you can spend the rest of your life boasting that you turned down Cambridge - that in itself gives you kudos!
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