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Cambridge, Durham or UCL?

Basically, I have offers from Cambridge and Durham to read English but I'm quite unsure of what to do.

Cambridge was my dream but I've been pooled into a mature college called "St Edmund's" (guess because I'm now over 21) and it doesn't particularly seem very good - it is consistently last in the Tompkins Table and the alumni list is nowhere near as extensive as that of Pembroke/Queens/Trinity etc. It just feels like I'd not *really* be going to Cambridge...

At Durham, I got my college of choice (University College) which seems very prestigious and I know the course at Durham ranks as high as the Cambridge one in the league tables. I've also applied to UCL and Warwick, both of who I'm still waiting to hear back from.

I'm honestly just not sure. How important are Cambridge colleges? They seems to be the entire backbone of the university and, from what I've seen online St Edmund's is isolated, mainly for Science post-grads, and quite easy to get into.

IDK, in desperate need of advice tbh
are you joking? You do know that the courses at Cambridge aren't run by the colleges, right? As in, regardless if you got into Pembroke, Jesus, Trinity, or St Edmund's, you'll still be studying on the same English course...

Also, to clear this up, St Edmund's isn't a "bad college" or "easy to get into" - in fact, it could be argued that it's quite difficult considering that they only admit between 50-60 undergraduates each October compared to the 100-300 the other colleges let in. Plus, purely as a college, you've got a huge community of international students, it's not *too far* from the town, and, from what I've heard, they throw some of the best formals and balls (the May Ball there has a whole theme park in the garden!)

Oh and the fact you've brought the Tompkins Table into this is wild; as mentioned above, most colleges let in double or triple the amount of UGs so of course the number of Firsts achieved will be skewed by that. I don't have much of a rebuttal for the lack of famous alumni other than it's a relatively new college (having achieved its status in the 80s or 90s or something) and, I guess, maybe the alumni shouldn't be as important to you as the quality of the course.

What I'm trying to say is that I don't think you really seem to be aware of what the collegiate is or how it works. On top of this, unless you're on Wikipedia, your CV/LinkedIn will just say "English BA, University of Cambridge" - 99.999% of places you apply to will not care what college you went to.

Look, obviously UCL, Warwick, and Durham are exceptional, exceptional uni's and, of course, reject your Cambridge offer for one of them if you'd feel more comfortable but, at the end of the day, Cambridge is Cambridge and there's not much more I can say.
“It is consistently last in the Tompkins Table.”
Your grades are your own responsibility, and not, in the end, anything whatever to do with your college.

“The alumni list is nowhere near as extensive as that of Pembroke/Queens/Trinity etc.”
Who on earth cares!? If your ambition is to be famous, going to Trinity isn’t going to make that happen. That’s on you, not your college.

“It just feels like I'd not *really* be going to Cambridge...”
If your idea of “going to Cambridge” is hanging around your college marvelling at medieval buildings, then no, unfortunately you’ll have to settle for some very fine late 19th century architecture in Edmunds. If your ambition is to go to Cambridge to actually learn, then your college will not make a tap of difference.

“quite easy to get into.”
No. It’s not. If you’re worried about the prestige of a “difficult to get into” college, then I’m sorry to tell you that absolutely nobody outside of Cambridge knows or cares in the slightest about the real or perceived differences between any of the colleges - and rightly so.
Original post by themaxanator2000
Basically, I have offers from Cambridge and Durham to read English but I'm quite unsure of what to do.

Cambridge was my dream but I've been pooled into a mature college called "St Edmund's" (guess because I'm now over 21) and it doesn't particularly seem very good - it is consistently last in the Tompkins Table and the alumni list is nowhere near as extensive as that of Pembroke/Queens/Trinity etc. It just feels like I'd not *really* be going to Cambridge...

At Durham, I got my college of choice (University College) which seems very prestigious and I know the course at Durham ranks as high as the Cambridge one in the league tables. I've also applied to UCL and Warwick, both of who I'm still waiting to hear back from.

I'm honestly just not sure. How important are Cambridge colleges? They seems to be the entire backbone of the university and, from what I've seen online St Edmund's is isolated, mainly for Science post-grads, and quite easy to get into.

IDK, in desperate need of advice tbh


This was some months but I had to reply to some of ridiculous points made.

So you think getting an offer from Cambridge, one of the most prestigious universities in the world and with a rigorous admissions process is worth less because it wasn’t at an old or traditional college? As someone who was at St Edmund’s and whilst it wasn’t my first choice, it was a great experience but first and foremost it had zero bearing on the quality of the teaching I received and my final degree.

as a mature student more likely than not the traditional colleges will pool you elsewhere because they are fairly confident you’ll get snapped up by one of the other mature colleges thus freeing up space for schooleavers.

Durham and UCL are great universities and the latter with a stellar international reputation. But Cambridge is unique in so many way be it the teaching style, the history, the culture, the traditions etc.
(edited 1 month ago)

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