The Student Room Group

Oxford college help

I am imagine TSR users are fed up with people coming on here to ask subjective questions like 'which college should I pick?' all the time. I appreciate that with very little knowledge of me as a person, you cannot answer this question with any real level of confidence. And yet here I am to ask that very question, and I hope you extend some understanding and compassion to me here.
I will be the first person in my family to go to university full stop, let alone Oxford, and I go to a school that does not typically see students through to Oxford. As a result I have very little information about the colleges, and whilst I'm trying my best to use the Internet, I would just love a personal answer from somebody who knows the university well.
I hope to study psychology and linguistics, and the things that are most important to me are being close to the uni, in a fun, sociable college, and being in a college which is not known for being elitist/prestigious (or too academic, if there is such thing - I would like a good work-life balance). As a state school student from a low income background, I really want to surround myself with people of all backgrounds and am worried Oxford will live up to the stuffy white wealthy people stereotype (even though people keep telling me that's not the case). I'm not too fussed about whether or not my college is popular for my course. I'd love to hear any feedback.

Once again, sorry for asking a question that probably annoys regular TSR users, but I hope you understand why I'm trying my luck here. Thank you.
Original post by Anonymous
I am imagine TSR users are fed up with people coming on here to ask subjective questions like 'which college should I pick?' all the time. I appreciate that with very little knowledge of me as a person, you cannot answer this question with any real level of confidence. And yet here I am to ask that very question, and I hope you extend some understanding and compassion to me here.
I will be the first person in my family to go to university full stop, let alone Oxford, and I go to a school that does not typically see students through to Oxford. As a result I have very little information about the colleges, and whilst I'm trying my best to use the Internet, I would just love a personal answer from somebody who knows the university well.
I hope to study psychology and linguistics, and the things that are most important to me are being close to the uni, in a fun, sociable college, and being in a college which is not known for being elitist/prestigious (or too academic, if there is such thing - I would like a good work-life balance). As a state school student from a low income background, I really want to surround myself with people of all backgrounds and am worried Oxford will live up to the stuffy white wealthy people stereotype (even though people keep telling me that's not the case). I'm not too fussed about whether or not my college is popular for my course. I'd love to hear any feedback.

Once again, sorry for asking a question that probably annoys regular TSR users, but I hope you understand why I'm trying my luck here. Thank you.

You don't need to apologise for asking! If people don't want to respond, they just won't.

As for the college, I can understand where you're coming from with your concerns. I was also applying to university completely blind from a similar background and I was quite worried about Oxford's reputation. There are elements of truth to it, but most people really overestimate how bad the problem is. The best explanation I can give is that Oxford feels very middle-class most of the time. It's not overwhelmingly aristocratic, but most people here went to good schools.

That being said, the atmosphere at different colleges is noticeably different. From my experience, I would say that the least elitist/snobby colleges would be Mansfield, LMH, and St Catherine's. These all have a high state school intake, and they all make a serious effort to widen access to applicants from disadvantaged backgrounds. This means that you'd likely be around more people of a similar background, and you might it easier to get support from the college if you have any particular issues related to your socioeconomic background etc. You can tell when a college is making an effort, even if they aren't perfect.

Also, there's often a difference between academic performance and academic pressure. Some colleges (e.g Merton) rank very highly on the Norrington Table each year, but they do pressure students quite a lot to achieve this. This isn't always the case, though. I would avoid using the Norrington Table or other similar statistics to figure out which college will ruin your work/life balance the most - it's really a question of how desperate the college is to stay at the top of the list. I can't speak for the other two, but St Catherine's is pretty relaxed (for an Oxford college) in this aspect.
(edited 5 months ago)

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