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Rejected from my first choice college at Oxford

I know this sounds really petty, but I was rejected from my first choice college Balliol in the graduate admissions process. What upsets me even more is that I chose Balliol because I thought that the faculty there shared my research interests (one of the selection criteria) over Christ Church (my dream college) which I didn't apply to because I thought the faculty didn't share it. After applying, I found out that one faculty member does share my research interests, but he was never listed on the main faculty webpage. Is there any way that I could persuade Oxford to let me try for Christ Church even though St Antony's has given me an offer? I would have applied to Christ Church first if the website had been more transparent. I am so bummed!

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Original post by crunchomunch
I know this sounds really petty, but I was rejected from my first choice college Balliol in the graduate admissions process. What upsets me even more is that I chose Balliol because I thought that the faculty there shared my research interests (one of the selection criteria) over Christ Church (my dream college) which I didn't apply to because I thought the faculty didn't share it. After applying, I found out that one faculty member does share my research interests, but he was never listed on the main faculty webpage. Is there any way that I could persuade Oxford to let me try for Christ Church even though St Antony's has given me an offer? I would have applied to Christ Church first if the website had been more transparent. I am so bummed!

As you know, its the University Department that awards you a place and then shops around to find which college has a suitable vacancy. Obviously, there will be a reason why you weren't allocated to Balliol eg the tutors you have spotted on the website are already snowed under with supervisees, or engaged on a project or on maternity leave etc etc.

Depending on the course, it may not be particularly significant anyway, as your college tutor may only see you for pastoral purposes, whilst you arrange supervision from another academic elsewhere.

But there's no harm in ringing the Department and/or college to discuss the situation.
Reply 2
Once you have a college offer you can only be 'migrated' on one of two grounds:

1) You're awarded a scholarship which is associated with a particular college

2) You have a disability which cannot be accommodated at the college to which you've been assigned

The good news is St. Antony's is a great college, with a vibrant (and very international!) student body.
The graduate admissions process is completely and utterly tyrannical; even though I may be allowed to migrate, the graduate admissions office won't let me chose as to which one. I wanted a medieval Oxford college with ancient, historic buildings; not the one built in 1950. As you say, my education won't even be taking place there. The only upside that I see to this is that there are better networking opportunities and that I will meet people with similar interests.
Original post by crunchomunch
I know this sounds really petty, but I was rejected from my first choice college Balliol in the graduate admissions process. What upsets me even more is that I chose Balliol because I thought that the faculty there shared my research interests (one of the selection criteria) over Christ Church (my dream college) which I didn't apply to because I thought the faculty didn't share it. After applying, I found out that one faculty member does share my research interests, but he was never listed on the main faculty webpage. Is there any way that I could persuade Oxford to let me try for Christ Church even though St Antony's has given me an offer? I would have applied to Christ Church first if the website had been more transparent. I am so bummed!

I think you are severely overestimating the extent to which your choice of college affects your life as a graduate student.
Original post by Plagioclase
I think you are severely overestimating the extent to which your choice of college affects your life as a graduate student.

What makes you say this? A part of me feels this too, and I'm making a big deal for nothing.
Original post by crunchomunch
What makes you say this? A part of me feels this too, and I'm making a big deal for nothing.

Oxford is a beautiful town and the university is great - I get why the idea of belonging to one of the oldy-worldy colleges sounds appealing as a student, but you'll be surrounded by these buildings regardless of where you are. I did four years of undergrad at a modern college and am still there as a postgrad, and I don't feel at all disadvantaged. By being at a more modern college like St. Anthony's, you'll still be living in the same Oxford that everybody else is in but you'll have the advantages of facilities that are in all likelihood more comfortable for your actual everyday life, particularly given that St. Anthony's is specifically for graduate students (also, it's probable that you'd be living in a modern annexe regardless of which college you became a part of, most graduate accommodation isn't on-site). You'll make friends at the old colleges so you'll have plenty of opportunities to take part in traditional formals.

So basically, relax - you'll still get the Oxford experience you wanted and as is always the case, you'll end up loving your college.
(edited 3 years ago)
Original post by crunchomunch
The graduate admissions process is completely and utterly tyrannical; even though I may be allowed to migrate, the graduate admissions office won't let me chose as to which one. I wanted a medieval Oxford college with ancient, historic buildings; not the one built in 1950. As you say, my education won't even be taking place there. The only upside that I see to this is that there are better networking opportunities and that I will meet people with similar interests.

I agree the graduate admission process is terrible. Given that every college might have only a couple of places for any given course, it's understandable that there isn't much room for choice, but it would be preferable if Oxford was clear about this at the outset.

As PC says, though, home college is less of an issue for graduates than for UGs. As a UG, you always get onsite accommodation with other UGs and your social life tends to be college based. That's much less so for graduates, who, if they are at the big UG/PG colleges, are often accommodated off the main site and may feel a little detached from the mainstream of college life. Socially and work-wise you'll be making friendships with other graduates across a range of colleges anyway.

Although St Anthony's doesn't have the architecture of Balliol or ChCh, the fact that you will be in an all graduate environment may give you a better experience overall.
Are Christ Church and Balliol similarly competitive when it comes to grad applications? And is it true that they tend to prefer their own students in the admissions process?
Original post by crunchomunch
Are Christ Church and Balliol similarly competitive when it comes to grad applications? And is it true that they tend to prefer their own students in the admissions process?

It's really pointless comparing how competitive colleges are, particularly at a graduate level, because it can vary so significantly from year to year and from course to course. I think that colleges give preference to continuing students (do not quote me on this) but this refers to admission to the college, not admission to the course.
Why is migration so difficult in the first place? A lot of graduate students may not even take up their places because of a lack of funding, so why can't those students who are able to choose a college of their choice if no one else takes a spot there?
Original post by Plagioclase
It's really pointless comparing how competitive colleges are, particularly at a graduate level, because it can vary so significantly from year to year and from course to course. I think that colleges give preference to continuing students (do not quote me on this) but this refers to admission to the college, not admission to the course.


Original post by crunchomunch
Why is migration so difficult in the first place? A lot of graduate students may not even take up their places because of a lack of funding, so why can't those students who are able to choose a college of their choice if no one else takes a spot there?

One of the underlying problems with graduate admissions is the lack of transparency about the process. If you are really interested, you could submit a Freedom of Information request. Meanwhile, rumours flourish. The only thing I am fairly confident about regarding returning students is that they tend to be put near the bottom of the list for college accommodation - the assumption being that they are familiar enough with the city to find their own.

Here are the routine stats for graduate admissions https://www.ox.ac.uk/sites/files/oxford/Graduate_Stats_1718%20WEB.pdf
What do people say and make of their time at St Antony's?
Also do undergraduate students mainly take their courses in their allotted college while graduate students take them outside of their college?
Original post by crunchomunch
Also do undergraduate students mainly take their courses in their allotted college while graduate students take them outside of their college?

The difference is mainly a consequence of scale and maturity. UGs will have lectures - like PGs - in the main Departmental buildings. Tutorials likewise tend to be in the tutor's office (sometimes in a college, sometimes in a departmental building). But as a UG, you will have several fellow course members also living in your college, and even in small colleges, the Junior Common Room (JCR) is a social hub for a large number of (UG) students, bringing together all the UGs.

Meanwhile, you will be a member of the college MCR (Middle Common Room). In a college with a majority of UGs, the MCR tends to be much smaller and PGs tend to be more disparate, with comitments and interests outside college. Consequently, MCR activity can be much less, and you are more likely to gravitate towards whichever college or departmental venue is most congenial for you and your colleagues on your course. Hope that makes sense.
How is St Antony's regarded?
Original post by crunchomunch
How is St Antony's regarded?

You will be aware that the academic standards of every college are uniformly high. Because it's both new and graduate-only, St Anthony's doesn't have a high profile and doesn't have the sort of jokey label that UGs attach to the colleges their peers attend ("Merton is where fun goes to die", Teddy Hall is for thick hearties etc). It also doesn't get tourist visitors. But those aren't any reflection on what the experience will be like for you.
Reply 17
Original post by crunchomunch
What do people say and make of their time at St Antony's?

From my experience (had a friend who went there, and visited him quite often), it has a great atmosphere were people across disciplines and ages get to know each other pretty well. It has some of the "old buildings" as well; an old main building, old church, and halls in one section fo the college. Also, the food is great too! I would regard it as a great place to be!

Here is a map of the college:
https://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/attachment.php?attachmentid=353003&stc=1
Original post by crunchomunch
Are Christ Church and Balliol similarly competitive when it comes to grad applications? And is it true that they tend to prefer their own students in the admissions process?

Colleges cannot reject their own students, as membership is considered for life.
If I switch strands and St Antony's College doesn't offer my course, will the dreaded Graduate admissions office again exert their dictatorial weight over the process of selecting a college? Or can I have the liberty of choosing my own college?

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