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University choices

Hi,
I am a student in my last year of high school in the USA. I’ve been accepted to all my university choices and cannot decide between York and Durham. For me, they both have pros and cons. I’d prefer a university with a more “old” look like Durham and something that is close to the city. I am also introverted and it is harder for me to make friends so I prefer private rooms and en-suite bathrooms which are more common at York. Since I’m very shy, I also don’t enjoy partying or drinking as much, and I’ve heard that Durham is more studious, but neither university has a large party scene. I really love the town of York but I don’t like how the university is so far away. I also love the old colleges on Durham… to be honest, I’m slightly worried that Durham may be too overwhelming in terms of workload and social life. I’ve heard some parts of Durham can be somewhat posh and rude, but there are also many friendly people. I really need to know if Durham is a good fit for me or not; I’m a bit worried I’ll be a alone there or something. Considering I’m an international student, I would definitely prefer a university that is more accommodating for people with different backgrounds. Any and all advice is appreciated! :smile:
Hello! I go to York and have visited Durham, so I might be able to provide some insight:

Both York and Durham are Russell Group universities (similar to your Ivy Leagues), so both have large international student populations. There are quite a few Americans and Canadians here at York, but as far as I know, there isn't an American cultural society like there is a French Society atm.

It's true that Durham is older than York and some of its colleges have that "older" aesthetic (Castle College for example), but there are also newer ones which look modern. Durham is not a campus university, it's spread out across the city, so you might end up in a situation where you're placed in a college that is a bit far away from stuff. Durham and York are both collegiate universities, so you'd be part of a community with their own individual wellbeing teams etc., separate from the university. At York, each college also has their own International Student representative.

York has 2 new colleges: Anne Lister and David Kato. Both of these are ensuite colleges. Other colleges with ensuites are James, Vanbrugh, Alcuin. These tend to be a bit more expensive. Some are also semi-catered, others fully catered.

In terms of the people, many people who go to Durham are also people who applied to Oxford or Cambridge. There's a stereotype that they tend to be posh and stuck up, but this is obviously not a rule - there will be unscrupulous people at both universities (and at any university, to be honest).

Both York and Durham are not big nightlife cities. You can definitely have a good time, but it's more down to the people you go with rather than anything else. They're both historic cities, you would probably have a better time going around exploring during the daytime than anything else. Especially in York, everything tends to shut at around 1730 - 1800, after that only bars and restaurants are open. The university is also not too far away from the city centre, it's around a 20 minute walk from West campus, and there are regular busses that go into the city.
Chemistry Research, Durham University
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Original post by Viznyuk
Hi,
I am a student in my last year of high school in the USA. I’ve been accepted to all my university choices and cannot decide between York and Durham. For me, they both have pros and cons. I’d prefer a university with a more “old” look like Durham and something that is close to the city. I am also introverted and it is harder for me to make friends so I prefer private rooms and en-suite bathrooms which are more common at York. Since I’m very shy, I also don’t enjoy partying or drinking as much, and I’ve heard that Durham is more studious, but neither university has a large party scene. I really love the town of York but I don’t like how the university is so far away. I also love the old colleges on Durham… to be honest, I’m slightly worried that Durham may be too overwhelming in terms of workload and social life. I’ve heard some parts of Durham can be somewhat posh and rude, but there are also many friendly people. I really need to know if Durham is a good fit for me or not; I’m a bit worried I’ll be a alone there or something. Considering I’m an international student, I would definitely prefer a university that is more accommodating for people with different backgrounds. Any and all advice is appreciated! :smile:


What subject btw?
Reply 3
Original post by Scotney
What subject btw?

Accounting and finance
Reply 4
Original post by Anonymous
Hello! I go to York and have visited Durham, so I might be able to provide some insight:

Both York and Durham are Russell Group universities (similar to your Ivy Leagues), so both have large international student populations. There are quite a few Americans and Canadians here at York, but as far as I know, there isn't an American cultural society like there is a French Society atm.

It's true that Durham is older than York and some of its colleges have that "older" aesthetic (Castle College for example), but there are also newer ones which look modern. Durham is not a campus university, it's spread out across the city, so you might end up in a situation where you're placed in a college that is a bit far away from stuff. Durham and York are both collegiate universities, so you'd be part of a community with their own individual wellbeing teams etc., separate from the university. At York, each college also has their own International Student representative.

York has 2 new colleges: Anne Lister and David Kato. Both of these are ensuite colleges. Other colleges with ensuites are James, Vanbrugh, Alcuin. These tend to be a bit more expensive. Some are also semi-catered, others fully catered.

In terms of the people, many people who go to Durham are also people who applied to Oxford or Cambridge. There's a stereotype that they tend to be posh and stuck up, but this is obviously not a rule - there will be unscrupulous people at both universities (and at any university, to be honest).

Both York and Durham are not big nightlife cities. You can definitely have a good time, but it's more down to the people you go with rather than anything else. They're both historic cities, you would probably have a better time going around exploring during the daytime than anything else. Especially in York, everything tends to shut at around 1730 - 1800, after that only bars and restaurants are open. The university is also not too far away from the city centre, it's around a 20 minute walk from West campus, and there are regular busses that go into the city.

Thank you so much for the very detailed reply! It sounds like both are very well respected. Is it true that York is the “wholesome” university? I visited the uk this summer and I love the city of York, but I’m not a big fan of the campus because it reminds me of the university campus in my city. I do like East campus though, which is where I think I’ll be spending most of my time anyways. Are there as many birds on East campus than west? I didn’t really have the chance to visit East campus. I heard East campus is nicer. Also how is York in the winter?
Original post by Viznyuk
Thank you so much for the very detailed reply! It sounds like both are very well respected. Is it true that York is the “wholesome” university? I visited the uk this summer and I love the city of York, but I’m not a big fan of the campus because it reminds me of the university campus in my city. I do like East campus though, which is where I think I’ll be spending most of my time anyways. Are there as many birds on East campus than west? I didn’t really have the chance to visit East campus. I heard East campus is nicer. Also how is York in the winter?


There are many birds all over the university! Certainly a lot on East, but naturally more on West because of the big lake. There are more rabbits on East though! East campus is the newest campus, it's really nice but I think West is nice too, that's where I lived for two years (East campus in final year this year).

York is more of a "wholesome" town and university. Everyone tends to know each other because of the collegiate system and I think that the people are really nice. York's beautiful in the winter, when it snows Heslington Hall on West Campus is stunning. There's also a Christmas market which is super famous and people come all over for it.
Original post by Viznyuk
Hi,
I am a student in my last year of high school in the USA. I’ve been accepted to all my university choices and cannot decide between York and Durham. For me, they both have pros and cons. I’d prefer a university with a more “old” look like Durham and something that is close to the city. I am also introverted and it is harder for me to make friends so I prefer private rooms and en-suite bathrooms which are more common at York. Since I’m very shy, I also don’t enjoy partying or drinking as much, and I’ve heard that Durham is more studious, but neither university has a large party scene. I really love the town of York but I don’t like how the university is so far away. I also love the old colleges on Durham… to be honest, I’m slightly worried that Durham may be too overwhelming in terms of workload and social life. I’ve heard some parts of Durham can be somewhat posh and rude, but there are also many friendly people. I really need to know if Durham is a good fit for me or not; I’m a bit worried I’ll be a alone there or something. Considering I’m an international student, I would definitely prefer a university that is more accommodating for people with different backgrounds. Any and all advice is appreciated! :smile:

GO and take a look at Durham applicant thread. You could ask some questions on there
Original post by Viznyuk
Hi,
I am a student in my last year of high school in the USA. I’ve been accepted to all my university choices and cannot decide between York and Durham. For me, they both have pros and cons. I’d prefer a university with a more “old” look like Durham and something that is close to the city. I am also introverted and it is harder for me to make friends so I prefer private rooms and en-suite bathrooms which are more common at York. Since I’m very shy, I also don’t enjoy partying or drinking as much, and I’ve heard that Durham is more studious, but neither university has a large party scene. I really love the town of York but I don’t like how the university is so far away. I also love the old colleges on Durham… to be honest, I’m slightly worried that Durham may be too overwhelming in terms of workload and social life. I’ve heard some parts of Durham can be somewhat posh and rude, but there are also many friendly people. I really need to know if Durham is a good fit for me or not; I’m a bit worried I’ll be a alone there or something. Considering I’m an international student, I would definitely prefer a university that is more accommodating for people with different backgrounds. Any and all advice is appreciated! :smile:


Hi Viznyuk,
Having visited Durham many times and knowing the area well, I would definitely recommend. The other posters are correct in that Durham does not have a huge nightlife scene but it is still incredibly social and the college format definitely prompts socialisation and a community feel. You can find rude people in any city but certainly the locals of Durham are pleasant and I've met many very nice Durham students. Aside from being a beautiful city, there are so many lovely coffee shops and pubs and you're only a short commute from Newcastle if you want more a of party vibe night out. I'd recommend looking on the Durham applicant thread to get more of a feel. York is very similar in all aspects, so I would say to opt for whatever city you like best.

In terms of accommodation, it may be worth looking at private student accommodation in both cities if you're looking for something private with an ensuite bathroom. We are currently sold out in Durham but we do have accommodation in both cities, you can check this out here: https://bit.ly/3SZfCUk

Hope this helps

- Sophie
I would go for York, its very beautiful yet its workload is not as bad. A lot of the Durham students I have met are very posh and often quite arrogant unfortunately while York is usually wholesome and pleasant (I'm not a York student btw as I like social unis but if I didn't I'd go for York).
Original post by Viznyuk
Hi,
I am a student in my last year of high school in the USA. I’ve been accepted to all my university choices and cannot decide between York and Durham. For me, they both have pros and cons. I’d prefer a university with a more “old” look like Durham and something that is close to the city. I am also introverted and it is harder for me to make friends so I prefer private rooms and en-suite bathrooms which are more common at York. Since I’m very shy, I also don’t enjoy partying or drinking as much, and I’ve heard that Durham is more studious, but neither university has a large party scene. I really love the town of York but I don’t like how the university is so far away. I also love the old colleges on Durham… to be honest, I’m slightly worried that Durham may be too overwhelming in terms of workload and social life. I’ve heard some parts of Durham can be somewhat posh and rude, but there are also many friendly people. I really need to know if Durham is a good fit for me or not; I’m a bit worried I’ll be a alone there or something. Considering I’m an international student, I would definitely prefer a university that is more accommodating for people with different backgrounds. Any and all advice is appreciated! :smile:
Original post by Viznyuk
Hi,
I am a student in my last year of high school in the USA. I’ve been accepted to all my university choices and cannot decide between York and Durham. For me, they both have pros and cons. I’d prefer a university with a more “old” look like Durham and something that is close to the city. I am also introverted and it is harder for me to make friends so I prefer private rooms and en-suite bathrooms which are more common at York. Since I’m very shy, I also don’t enjoy partying or drinking as much, and I’ve heard that Durham is more studious, but neither university has a large party scene. I really love the town of York but I don’t like how the university is so far away. I also love the old colleges on Durham… to be honest, I’m slightly worried that Durham may be too overwhelming in terms of workload and social life. I’ve heard some parts of Durham can be somewhat posh and rude, but there are also many friendly people. I really need to know if Durham is a good fit for me or not; I’m a bit worried I’ll be a alone there or something. Considering I’m an international student, I would definitely prefer a university that is more accommodating for people with different backgrounds. Any and all advice is appreciated! :smile:

I am currently at Durham and do Finance, and I have met quite a few Northern Americans over here, yes Durham is somewhat posher than other universities but really there is not much of a difference. Your workload in the first year is honestly negligible, it is not that much and your grades in the first year don't count towards your overall degree, you just need to pass (get 40%). Durham's academic pedigree is definitely better than York's overall, especially in the business school. If you look at Investment banking or Big 4 accounting, Durham tends to send in significantly more graduates than York. Durham does have quite a lot of international students as well.

Also, not all the colleges at Durham have the aesthetic old-building vibe to them, some of them are quite new. If you want an old college you'd want to be in University College, Hatfield, St.Johns, St. Chads, St. Cuths, and St. Marys. Also, I don't know why but St. Johns typically has quite a few Americans. . Private rooms are not too difficult to get but if you want ensuites then you'd be better off at one of the newer self-catered colleges such as Josephine Butler. The only way you would be able to get an ensuite at one of the older colleges is if you have a disability or medical condition. Honestly sharing a bathroom is not as bad as you think tho (mostly).
Original post by Anonymous
I am currently at Durham and do Finance, and I have met quite a few Northern Americans over here, yes Durham is somewhat posher than other universities but really there is not much of a difference. Your workload in the first year is honestly negligible, it is not that much and your grades in the first year don't count towards your overall degree, you just need to pass (get 40%). Durham's academic pedigree is definitely better than York's overall, especially in the business school. If you look at Investment banking or Big 4 accounting, Durham tends to send in significantly more graduates than York. Durham does have quite a lot of international students as well.

Also, not all the colleges at Durham have the aesthetic old-building vibe to them, some of them are quite new. If you want an old college you'd want to be in University College, Hatfield, St.Johns, St. Chads, St. Cuths, and St. Marys. Also, I don't know why but St. Johns typically has quite a few Americans. . Private rooms are not too difficult to get but if you want ensuites then you'd be better off at one of the newer self-catered colleges such as Josephine Butler. The only way you would be able to get an ensuite at one of the older colleges is if you have a disability or medical condition. Honestly sharing a bathroom is not as bad as you think tho (mostly).


It is not true that Durham is better than York academically. Measuring academic merit by whether or not a university is a strong or weak semi-target for investment banking (Big4 are university blind in applications) is fundamentally flawed. What university OP should choose will depend what they want to study. Chemistry, PPE, Biology etc., undoubtedly York. English? Probably 50/50 between York and Durham. The two universities are on similar levels with their own strengths over the other in certain concentrations.
Original post by Anonymous
It is not true that Durham is better than York academically. Measuring academic merit by whether or not a university is a strong or weak semi-target for investment banking (Big4 are university blind in applications) is fundamentally flawed. What university OP should choose will depend what they want to study. Chemistry, PPE, Biology etc., undoubtedly York. English? Probably 50/50 between York and Durham. The two universities are on similar levels with their own strengths over the other in certain concentrations.

I agree that every university has its own strengths, but Durham and York are definitely not on similar levels in terms of general academic prestige,
Original post by Anonymous
I agree that every university has its own strengths, but Durham and York are definitely not on similar levels in terms of general academic prestige,


This just isn't true. Most Russell Groups are of similar levels of reputation, it only takes looking to their research output and alumni to verify. "General academic prestige" is so vague and no one actually makes these distinctions outside of TSR. How are you measuring that? These arguments fall apart so quickly because they can be picked apart with such ease. I can easily cherrypick datapoints that makes York look vastly superior to Durham, just like you could probably do the same with Durham v York. In reality, they're two institutions with similar budgets, research output, and international ranking. Graduates from both universities go into lucrative jobs.

If you really want to be nitpicky about investment banking targets, then okay, Nottingham is a very strong semi-target and ranks low in domestic rankings. Investment banks target universities from which they get a lot of applications from and hence it makes sense to visit them, not necessarily because they're spectacular universities.
Looking at the complete university league tables and guardian league tables, Durham scores 6th place in both, and York 20th in one and 21st in the other. I work in the teaching profession, and amongst my colleagues, they would certainly refer to Durham as more prestigious.
Original post by Anonymous
Looking at the complete university league tables and guardian league tables, Durham scores 6th place in both, and York 20th in one and 21st in the other. I work in the teaching profession, and amongst my colleagues, they would certainly refer to Durham as more prestigious.


THE World Rankings has Durham at 198 and York at 139. You see why relying on Rankings like this doesn't work? You're a teacher, you should know that York and Durham were equally ranked a few years ago in domestic Rankings. Doesn't mean that York has gotten any worse... York's been on the rise in international Rankings at the same time as falling in domestic Rankings (although still consistently top 20 and never fallen below that). I hope that your school doesn't tell students to choose universities on such an abstract basis lol
Original post by Anonymous
THE World Rankings has Durham at 198 and York at 139. You see why relying on Rankings like this doesn't work? You're a teacher, you should know that York and Durham were equally ranked a few years ago in domestic Rankings. Doesn't mean that York has gotten any worse... York's been on the rise in international Rankings at the same time as falling in domestic Rankings (although still consistently top 20 and never fallen below that). I hope that your school doesn't tell students to choose universities on such an abstract basis lol

York isn't even in the same category as Durham, you have mentioned one ranking table in which York is higher than Durham, but the vast majority of other ranking tables consider Durham to be much better. You are just negligent to facts. Durham is arguably the best university in the North of England whereas York is not even the best uni in Yorkshire!

International rankings are generally heavily skewed and don't reflect how good a university is in its own country.
Original post by Anonymous
York isn't even in the same category as Durham, you have mentioned one ranking table in which York is higher than Durham, but the vast majority of other ranking tables consider Durham to be much better. You are just negligent to facts. Durham is arguably the best university in the North of England whereas York is not even the best uni in Yorkshire!

International rankings are generally heavily skewed and don't reflect how good a university is in its own country.


I get that you have a sense of pride going to Durham, no need to derail the thread and bash other universities with your emotional, subjective opinion - not helpful to OP.
Original post by Anonymous
York isn't even in the same category as Durham, you have mentioned one ranking table in which York is higher than Durham, but the vast majority of other ranking tables consider Durham to be much better. You are just negligent to facts. Durham is arguably the best university in the North of England whereas York is not even the best uni in Yorkshire!

International rankings are generally heavily skewed and don't reflect how good a university is in its own country.

One thing that is true is Durham is a destination uni for middle class kids and their parents. It is not known as the Oxbridge reject uni for nothing. In terms of general prestige and connections Durham is the place its at.
For some departments like Biology York will edge it. RG groups are more important at post grad level as their ratings are for undergrad. But Op did say they wanted a more informal uni with more ordinary people York would fit that bill. So would Southampton.

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