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Chemistry Research, Durham University
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Durham or gap year

what's durham really honestly like? I just got an offer but I'm completely on the fence whether to just go to durham in september or to reapply to oxford next year. i couldn't visit in term time because of lockdown and i hadnt properly considered it until this year. is there as much pressure as oxbridge? does it matter what college you get allocated to?
Original post by jade.lia
what's durham really honestly like? I just got an offer but I'm completely on the fence whether to just go to durham in september or to reapply to oxford next year. i couldn't visit in term time because of lockdown and i hadnt properly considered it until this year. is there as much pressure as oxbridge? does it matter what college you get allocated to?

Hi there

It really depends on how you perceive situations. University in general is quite demanding so pressure is something you should be expecting. Of course, the difficulty level of courses varies objectively but also depends on your interest in the subject. Being a law student, I know this is a course which is intense anywhere you study it- be it in the UK or elsewhere. But you can deal with the pressure if you devote sufficient time to the course and are able to manage a social life simultaneously. There's much more to the student experience than just studying.

At Durham, this is reflected in the collegiate system not being connected to academics in any way. Therefore, there is no academic competition between different colleges. The colleges are where you live, eat, make friends, attend formals and just enjoy being a Durham student really. Each college has different societies you can join ranging from sports, music, theatre to POC, Taylor Swift etc and this varies from college to college. Colleges matter to the extent that they are able to cater to your needs. Eg: if you want to cook for yourself, it's better that you get allocated to a self-catered rather than a catered college. When it comes to which self-catered/ catered college you should choose, it's not really that much different. All colleges have similar facilities and everybody ends up loving the college they go to.

If you need more info on how to choose a college, lemme know :smile:

-Himieka (Official DU Rep)
Chemistry Research, Durham University
Durham University
Durham
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Reply 2
Original post by jade.lia
what's durham really honestly like? I just got an offer but I'm completely on the fence whether to just go to durham in september or to reapply to oxford next year. i couldn't visit in term time because of lockdown and i hadnt properly considered it until this year. is there as much pressure as oxbridge? does it matter what college you get allocated to?

My son got rejected from Oxford post interview, but has got an offer at Durham which he is more than Happy with (and had firmed) as Durham is lovely, and it does have a feel of Oxford especially in the Bailey Area. When you are considering please bare in mind the student loans change after this year, so if you take a gap year, you may end up paying a lot more money back to student loans than you would have done if you started this year. Also consider how would you feel if you took a gap year and still didn't get in Oxford next year. I was an avid watcher of the Oxford applicants thread, and while some students did get in on a 2nd attempt a large number did not. Durham is an excellent University, and has a lovely 'feel'. The college system is also very supportive, and welcoming. I am sure you would love it
Original post by jade.lia
what's durham really honestly like? I just got an offer but I'm completely on the fence whether to just go to durham in september or to reapply to oxford next year. i couldn't visit in term time because of lockdown and i hadnt properly considered it until this year. is there as much pressure as oxbridge? does it matter what college you get allocated to?

Durham is not the same as Oxford. The city is a lot smaller, for one, and a lovely one at that, but very small, with all that that entails. On any given day you are likely to run into fellow classmates as you make your way around as there are only so many places. Ditto for when you go to cafes or pubs or clubs (the few that there are) which some may find reassuring and others stifling. I'd strongly recommend coming for a visit as it's worth a day trip regardless and you'll get more of a feel for it than anyone on this forum could give you.

As others have pointed out, the collegiate system has little bearing on your studies, and instead serves as a base for your initial studies and for you to build up friendships with your fellow students.

Durham University is a top university that will demand you dedicate a considerable portion of your life to study. There is some argument to be made that Oxford and Cambridge are even more demanding however, but unless you are a super-genius I think you will find your education at Durham sufficiently rigorous.

Finally, do you have a plan for your Gap Year? Is there something that you desperately want to do, places you want to go etc? If the sole purpose of your gap year is to give you another swing at Oxbridge, I'd consider whether there's anything you can do during that year (volunteering, work experience that bears relevance to your desired course) to bolster your application to give you a better chance of success next time round. As others have pointed out, an offer from Oxbridge will never be a sure thing and you should consider whether delaying your studies for a year is worth a punt.
gap yaah

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