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St Salvators Quad, University of St Andrews
University of St Andrews

St Andrews or Cambridge

I am intending to study history as an undergrad but I can’t decide between Cambridge or St Andrews. I recently received an offer from Cambridge (I was pooled and received an offer from an all girls college, Murray Edwards ). I was a bit shocked and am now wondering if perhaps attending St Andrews would be better for me? I am of course very grateful for the opportunity but I’m scared that the all girls environment will make my uni experience less enjoyable/ fun.
I don’t know much about St Andrews as Scotland is very far from where live . Would appreciate advice :smile:
Reply 1
Note it may be an all girls college, but you attend lectures with everyone in your subject. It won't affect you as much as you think. It may be better because you don't have any guys living with/near you.
St Salvators Quad, University of St Andrews
University of St Andrews
Original post by Anonymous
I am intending to study history as an undergrad but I can’t decide between Cambridge or St Andrews. I recently received an offer from Cambridge (I was pooled and received an offer from an all girls college, Murray Edwards ). I was a bit shocked and am now wondering if perhaps attending St Andrews would be better for me? I am of course very grateful for the opportunity but I’m scared that the all girls environment will make my uni experience less enjoyable/ fun.
I don’t know much about St Andrews as Scotland is very far from where live . Would appreciate advice :smile:


You realise the college is in many respects a glorified hall of residence?

You aren't locked into the college at the start of term and then released at the end. Your lectures are on the main campuses (presumably Sidgwick for history), you can have supervisions at any college and not just your own dependent on where your DoS feels is best to provide the teaching for your paper(s), and nothing prevents you from interacting with students at any other college, not to mention spending time in other colleges visiting friends in other colleges.
As others have said being at Medwards won't prevent you from interacting with members of the opposite sex outside of college be that in lectures, sports and societies etc. Sure college will form an important aspect of your time at Cambridge such as tutorials and formal halls, but it's one part of the entire Cambridge experience. That's not to mention the fact YOU ARE/WILL BE A STUDENT AT THE UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE, and have access to all the resources and privileges that come with being a Cambridge student and at some point down the road a graduate and alumnus. St Andrews is a great university at undergraduate level but let's be brutally honest, nobody trips up on themselves to get into St Andrews. Cambridge is not only one of the best universities in the country but probably in the world. There isn't a corner of the globe (maybe except North Korea and Somaliland) that isn't aware of the prestige of Cambridge.

Frankly speaking, you'd be a fool to decline Cambridge for St Andrews of all places. Mind you, you do get those goombas who decline Oxbridge to attend a place like Manchester just so they can enjoy partying. Morons.
Original post by Anonymous #2
As others have said being at Medwards won't prevent you from interacting with members of the opposite sex outside of college be that in lectures, sports and societies etc. Sure college will form an important aspect of your time at Cambridge such as tutorials and formal halls, but it's one part of the entire Cambridge experience. That's not to mention the fact YOU ARE/WILL BE A STUDENT AT THE UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE, and have access to all the resources and privileges that come with being a Cambridge student and at some point down the road a graduate and alumnus. St Andrews is a great university at undergraduate level but let's be brutally honest, nobody trips up on themselves to get into St Andrews. Cambridge is not only one of the best universities in the country but probably in the world. There isn't a corner of the globe (maybe except North Korea and Somaliland) that isn't aware of the prestige of Cambridge.

Frankly speaking, you'd be a fool to decline Cambridge for St Andrews of all places. Mind you, you do get those goombas who decline Oxbridge to attend a place like Manchester just so they can enjoy partying. Morons.

Funny you mention Somaliland when there is a specific studentship for students from Somaliland universities (Darlington studentship)
Original post by melancollege
Funny you mention Somaliland when there is a specific studentship for students from Somaliland universities (Darlington studentship)

That’s fair enough but doesn’t change the point though that it would incredibly foolish to overlook Cambridge for St Andrews.
Original post by Anonymous #2
That’s fair enough but doesn’t change the point though that it would incredibly foolish to overlook Cambridge for St Andrews.

Oh yeah I know don't worry, I just thought it was a fun side fact
Original post by artful_lounger
You realise the college is in many respects a glorified hall of residence?
You aren't locked into the college at the start of term and then released at the end. Your lectures are on the main campuses (presumably Sidgwick for history), you can have supervisions at any college and not just your own dependent on where your DoS feels is best to provide the teaching for your paper(s), and nothing prevents you from interacting with students at any other college, not to mention spending time in other colleges visiting friends in other colleges.

I do not agree with the suggestion that a Cambridge (or Oxford) college is a "glorified hall of residence". A college is a self governing academic community. It's usually the centre of an undergraduate's academic and social world, and not just a place to eat and sleep. If a member of a college wishes to, he or she can have a lifelong relationship with his or her college. Many alumni of Oxford and Cambridge have strong affection for their colleges, donate money to them, and so on.

As noted above, however, the fact that a college is for women only does not make the undergraduate experience any the less fun. It's a college, not a Nunnery, and as a member of the university you have access to all of the colleges. When I was at Oxford, Somerville, St Hilda's, and St Hugh's were still all women, and Oriel was still all men, but that did not prevent members of those colleges from partying and taking part in clubs, sports etc with people from all across the university. I studied history at Wadham, a mixed sex college, and had most of my tutorials there, but also had tutorials at Pembroke, All Soul's, Magdalen, and St Hugh's. I attended a fabulous seminar series run by the great Keith Thomas at St John's, and joined the Stubbs Society (the cross-collegiate history club) to listen to (amongst others) Hugh Trevor Roper (returning to the familiarity of Oxford from his chilly reception at Peterhouse) give talks (and donate some fine whisky liberated from the Peterhouse cellars).

I hung out with friends, mainly at Wadham, but also at Balliol, Queen's, and Lincoln, and we partied at many colleges. I was in plays put on at Oriel, New College, Trinity, Wadham, and Merton.

I agree with the suggestion that the choice between St Andrew's and Cambridge ought not to be a difficult one. Not so long ago, the son of a friend of mine (I shall call the son John) was offered a place at Cambridge but considered going somewhere else in the UK. A family friend who teaches at Cambridge took him aside and said "John, it's Cambridge." John went to Cambridge, had enormous fun, and got a first. OP, you have won one of the top prizes in the university world. I am not knocking St Andrew's, but if you have the chance to study history at Cambridge, study history at Cambridge.
(edited 2 weeks ago)
Original post by Stiffy Byng
I do not agree with the suggestion that a Cambridge (or Oxford) college is a "glorified hall of residence". A college is a self governing academic community. It's usually the centre of an undergraduate's academic and social world, and not just a place to eat and sleep. If a member of a college wishes to, he or she can have a lifelong relationship with his or her college. Many alumni of Oxford and Cambridge have strong affection for their colleges, donate money to them, and so on.

As noted above, however, the fact that a college is for women only does not make the undergraduate experience any the less fun. It's a college, not a Nunnery, and as a member of the university you have access to all of the colleges. When I was at Oxford, Somerville, St Hilda's, and St Hugh's were still all women, and Oriel was still all men, but that did not prevent members of those colleges from partying and taking part in clubs, sports etc with people from all across the university. I studied history at Wadham, a mixed sex college, and had most of my tutorials there, but also had tutorials at Pembroke, All Soul's, Magdalen, and St Hugh's. I attended a fabulous seminar series run by the great Keith Thomas at St John's, and joined the Stubbs Society (the cross-collegiate history club) to listen to (amongst others) Hugh Trevor Roper (returning to the familiarity of Oxford from his chilly reception at Peterhouse) give talks (and donate some fine whisky liberated from the Peterhouse cellars).

I hung out with friends, mainly at Wadham, but also at Balliol, Queen's, and Lincoln, and we partied at many colleges. I was in plays put on at Oriel, New College, Trinity, Wadham, and Merton.

I agree with the suggestion that the choice between St Andrew's and Cambridge ought not to be a difficult one. Not so long ago, the son of a friend of mine (I shall call the son John) was offered a place at Cambridge but considered going somewhere else in the UK. A family friend who teaches at Cambridge took him aside and said "John, it's Cambridge." John went to Cambridge, had enormous fun, and got a first. OP, you have won one of the top prizes in the university world. I am not knocking St Andrew's, but if you have the chance to study history at Cambridge, study history at Cambridge.

I'm aware of the bells and whistles attached to the colleges, however I'm still inclined to think of them as glorified halls of residence which is exactly what a friend of mine described them as from experience.

Also these days I don't get the impression characterising them as the centre of academic teaching is accurate. While he's supervisions/tutorials are delivered in college it seems common now at Cambridge at least to have tutorials at other colleges, and for almost all courses as far as I'm aware lectures etc are centrally organised and delivered.

Equally the supervision teaching of a given college just isn't something that is a useful factor for applicants to consider because the quality of that will be equivalent as other colleges. Putting this on a pedestal just makes applicants become obsessed with the ludicrous 1st class rate rankings of colleges (which usually have only a couple of % difference between the top and bottom ranked ones) and leads to things where perfectly able applicants believe they will receive a suboptimal education if they do maths at any college than Trinity for example, and end up being rejected pre interview with no chance of being pooled when they would almost certainly gave at least been interviewed at any other college. Or women deciding against applying to women's colleges because they mistakenly believe that the college being the "centre of their world' meaning they will be cloistered in college and never see a man throughout their course - so even considering not taking an offer after being pooled there.

As far as applicants are concerned i think inflating colleges to be anything more than glorified halls of residence is ultimately counter productive because all the other elements of colleges should be broadly similar and accessible at other colleges. However practical and aesthetic matters of what the physical accommodation is like is a potential consideration for some. Building colleges to be so much more just places undue emphasis on a factor which by all accounts ultimately is not the most important part of the application process - as repeated anecdotal data suggests applicants are on the whole happy with whichever college they end up at. Whether pooled or not.
(edited 2 weeks ago)

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