The Student Room Group

How to pick a college for the University of Oxford?

Hi all,

I'd really like to apply to Uni of Oxford for attendence in 2024-28 and I was wondering if there were any current Oxford students or alumni here on TSR that could give a little advice on picking your college.

Thanks in advance x
My advice to everyone is to think of a college as where you primarily eat, sleep, and socialise. Think about what you'd like out of the living experience and what kinda things are important to you right now. After you've crossed off all the colleges that don't offer your subject(s), you should ask yourself:

- Do you want a big or small college, or are you genuinely indifferent?

- Do you want an older, "traditional"-looking Oxford college, or would you feel at home somewhere more modern?

- Do you want to be in the city centre, or a bit further out?

- Where is your Faculty (and associated libraries) located, and how near/far do you wanna be from there?

- Would having loads of tourists going through your college each day bother you? (If so, that rules out Christ Church :tongue: )

- Do you want/need kitchen access? Ensuite? Gym facilities on-site? Disabled access?

- How important is green space (gardens, or lawns you can walk on) to you?


I went to Woosta (Worcester) College, so if that is one you might be considering, do feel free to ask questions :woo:
It's also worth mentioning that many colleges have additional features like bursaries and book grants, that are specific to that particular college. These things are always worth a look into too :yes:
thank youu!

i was doing a little research on the ones that offer computer science (and philosophy) courses and so far balliol seems to be top choice, and then christ but the tourist thing @The_Lonely_Goatherd mentioned has given me doubts. what do u think of balliol and do you have to wear gown for formals?
Original post by therealtara
thank youu!

i was doing a little research on the ones that offer computer science (and philosophy) courses and so far balliol seems to be top choice, and then christ but the tourist thing @The_Lonely_Goatherd mentioned has given me doubts. what do u think of balliol and do you have to wear gown for formals?

Just remember you can be reallocated and get offer from colleges other than you applied for. Almost 25% offers are like that. So I wouldn’t put too much effort on college selection - especially for a course that’s so competitive. A lot of candidates make an open application and almost everyone is happy whichever college they ultimately study at. Hope you took a look at the first post of the other thread.
Original post by therealtara
thank youu!

i was doing a little research on the ones that offer computer science (and philosophy) courses and so far balliol seems to be top choice, and then christ but the tourist thing @The_Lonely_Goatherd mentioned has given me doubts. what do u think of balliol and do you have to wear gown for formals?

I don't know much about Balliol, as they don't offer my subject, so I've only been in there once and very briefly. Nice bar from the little I remember about it. They're one of the bigger, famous, and most oversubscribed colleges (though if you really like the look of it, don't let those things put you off! Same for Christ Church), so I imagine you'd have to wear a gown for formals :yes:

Are you able to go on any open days, or make a trip to Oxford to visit a few colleges? It's always good to have a look around if that's a viable/affordable option :smile:
Reply 6
Original post by therealtara
thank youu!

i was doing a little research on the ones that offer computer science (and philosophy) courses and so far balliol seems to be top choice, and then christ but the tourist thing @The_Lonely_Goatherd mentioned has given me doubts. what do u think of balliol and do you have to wear gown for formals?


I was at Balliol (although as a graduate student) and I really liked it. I wasn't living on the college's main site but I went there a few times and it was lovely; strong Hogwarts vibes. Although it lies at the heart of Oxford, it's actually quiet because it has this medieval old college design like a large quadrangle where you can only get in through the main door (so not anyone can just get it). So, the inside is like a small peaceful park. It's near many shops and amenities, and down the road from the Bodleian Library and other central colleges and important sites.

I didn't meet any undergrads but the postgrad community was lovely and inclusive. The staff were very friendly and supportive as well.
I'm probably a bit biased but it's one of the best colleges all in all and I have no complaint.

Magdalen is also stunning and it probably has the most beautiful grounds. I know Christ Church is famous for its park and location, but I found Magdalen prettier. They even have their own deer park and a large green area to walk around near a river and many trees. It's great if you want peace of mind or take a book and chill.
Lucky dip? :getmecoat:
Reply 8
Original post by The_Lonely_Goatherd
I don't know much about Balliol, as they don't offer my subject, so I've only been in there once and very briefly. Nice bar from the little I remember about it. They're one of the bigger, famous, and most oversubscribed colleges (though if you really like the look of it, don't let those things put you off! Same for Christ Church), so I imagine you'd have to wear a gown for formals :yes:

Are you able to go on any open days, or make a trip to Oxford to visit a few colleges? It's always good to have a look around if that's a viable/affordable option :smile:

Balliol actually does not have regular formals despite its age, it has a reputation as a fairly relaxed and informal college. I strongly considered Balliol, but it was extremely oversubscribed for my subject (PPE), so I ended up going for (and getting accepted at) New College. Its gorgeous gardens and buildings, great location (very central but quite tucked away), and preponderance of ensuites were big factors in my choice.
Original post by therealtara
Hi all,

I'd really like to apply to Uni of Oxford for attendence in 2024-28 and I was wondering if there were any current Oxford students or alumni here on TSR that could give a little advice on picking your college.

Thanks in advance x

The alternative prospectus is really helpful https://apply.oxfordsu.org/
The other thing to remember is that 1/3 of offer holders have an offer from a different college to the one they applied to. So don't worry about it too much and get really attached to your college of choice because there is a chance you will be offered another one.
(edited 1 year ago)
Original post by therealtara
thank youu!

i was doing a little research on the ones that offer computer science (and philosophy) courses and so far balliol seems to be top choice, and then christ but the tourist thing @The_Lonely_Goatherd mentioned has given me doubts. what do u think of balliol and do you have to wear gown for formals?

I've stayed in Balliol for a few days - car access needs permission as the entry is in a bus lane. No ensuites where I was and all a bit archaic. Food was good and a nice dining area. I can post photos of the gardens if you like!
yes please!
Original post by therealtara
Hi all,

I'd really like to apply to Uni of Oxford for attendence in 2024-28 and I was wondering if there were any current Oxford students or alumni here on TSR that could give a little advice on picking your college.

Thanks in advance x

One thing I'd consider is how many years of accommodation are at the main college site. If you're shipped off to an annex, how far is it? Living in a college with three years on-site was lovely: everyone is near everyone, which allows for spontaneous activities. My mail, all my friends, tutorials, the gardens -- everything was just a stone's throw away.

I studied at a college next to Balliol: Balliol is a lovely college and in my opinion more beautiful than Magdalen. I think this is in part because a lot of it is Neo-Gothic. The chapel and library are incredible to look at. The first quad is amazing: a small court but perfectly shaped. My dad saw it from across the road, through the gates, and had to explore it. The quad's perimeter is covered in flowers during the warmer months. The back of the college feels more relaxed being one big quad, almost like a park. Right at the end is stairs leading up to an Oxfordy Hall -- dark in an atmospheric way with lamps along the tables. I visited Balliol while it was snowing quite heavily and it was especially beautiful. There is this tiny maze-like hedge, and when you walk through it you're in this secret garden-like space on the other side of the chapel and library. Being there alone, while it was snowing, was pretty magical.

Balliol is a great choice. Don't worry about wearing a gown to formals. You'll forget you're wearing it: formals were pretty relaxed affairs in my experience.
(edited 1 year ago)
Reply 13
Has anyone had experience/feedback on Regent's Park College?
Original post by therealtara
Hi all,

I'd really like to apply to Uni of Oxford for attendence in 2024-28 and I was wondering if there were any current Oxford students or alumni here on TSR that could give a little advice on picking your college.

Thanks in advance x


Heya! I would recommend checking out this Oxbridge UCAS Guide link , it has a free comparison tool for Oxbridge colleges that will show you very detailed difference guide between all of them including societies, welfare and much more :smile:
Hope this is helpful and good luck!
Milena G.
Oxbridge Mind

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