I'm applying for Cambridge this year for English and I'm having a hard time deciding which college I want to go for. I've narrowed it down to two main choices - Emmanuel and Clare - but I'm also still considering Corpus Christi, Pembroke, Gonville and Caius, Trinity.
I'm really basing my choice on location, atmosphere and aesthetics, and I'm not going to try any tactics in terms of which college I'm most likely to get into. The reason I love Clare is because it's right next to the river and in a really pretty area. It's also quite close to the Sidgwick Site, which (if I'm not completely wrong) is where the English faculty is? I love Emmanuel because it has absolutely beautiful grounds.
I was wondering if anyone could tell me what these colleges are like in terms of atmosphere:
- Is the community quite close-knit?
- Are there a disproportionate number of arts/science students?
- Are they notoriously 'rah-ish' or pretentious?
- Are they quiet during exam time or generally quite touristy?
- Most importantly, is the environment hugely pressured? I was at the Oxford open day with a friend on Friday, and one of the tutors was saying that some colleges there drive their students to achieve much more (Merton was the main example) whereas others are more relaxed, which I would prefer. Is this also the case at Cambridge? Obviously I know that there will be pressure at all colleges, but I don't really want to apply for a college with a reputation for it. The fact that both Emmanuel and Clare are consistently near the top of the Tompkins table made me worry that they might fall into that category.
Also, what are the various college societies like? Can you join the societies of colleges of which you're not a student?
Sorry for the essay, any advice would be much appreciated!