The Student Room Group

KCL ops?

Everytime I disclose that Im planning to go to KCL people are so quick to highlight everything wrong with the Uni which makes me doubt everything. Ive heard that the accoms are filled with rich international students who form cliques and classist segregation between themselves and those less privileged. I also heard the accommodations are tiny. Making friends is impossible which I guess is subjective and you have the whole of london to make friends with, esp when i already live in zone 1 london. I also heard that the uni is just s**t in general and people dont do well. Ive got an offer for physics, currently waiting for accommodation to reply.
Reply 1
I'm a second-year KCL student and I totally feel this, I particularly get it from family members especially comparing it to UCL as I do biomedical science (specialising in neuro) and UCL are in the news more often for medical research, as well as being told my degree is s**t because it doesn't cover every obscure thing in medical science. My perspective is maybe slightly biased since it was my first choice uni but I honestly don't think KCL is that different from other unis - there are problems with it, but in my view that's a current education system problem and not necessarily an entirely KCL problem.

As for accommodation, I was at Great Dover Street last year which is maybe one of the biggest - there were around 700-1000 of us I believe, definitely not tiny - we had 10 blocks spread around a pretty big central courtyard (I mean it could fit at least one fire engine in there - speaking from experience 😂). The rooms there were small - I'm in private halls this year and I won't lie, it's a lot more spacious - but an element of that is it's just student accommodation - some are good, some aren't. Very dependent on different accommodations. Also dependent, but GDS was far from dominated by international students (it was all us home students who wanted the cheapest place to live and/or guy's campus students who didn't want to commute 😅). There is a fairly high percentage of international students at KCL - again, definitely not unique to them, every major especially London university has high percentages nowadays since they get more money - and while there can be sometimes limited mixing, in my experience it's not as clique-y as it's made out. That's really down to just the individual people, I suppose. I would say that rather than classist segregation and cliques, it really depends on the groups that form in the first few weeks to months of first year as these do seem to stay pretty solid. Yes, some international students tend to group together and will mainly talk in their home language which can sometimes feel a little isolating (had it happen recently in a group project where I was the only home student) but plenty are just happy to meet new people. But as I said, pretty sure that'll be found at most major universities nowadays.

Making friends is definitely not impossible! It did take me a little while because I'm pretty introverted and also still wear a mask since there's a high chance of me getting seriously ill if I catch Covid which I do think puts people off, but I've been able to develop a decent sized group of really close friends over the last two years, both on my course and especially from the student society I'm part of, which is a really good place for that.

As for the teaching, it definitely is a mix - from both my experience and some of my friends, some lecturers are brilliant, some are awful, and some modules are a lot better organised than others. But that's no different to my experience in high school, and I doubt it's that much different across any higher education institution. There have always been good teachers and bad ones, so I don't think it can be generalised on the whole as being bad. At least in my experience, the good or at least decent lecturers outweigh the bad ones. Admin is not great at times, particularly with timetabling (for instance, they've told us to just deal with the fact none of us have one of our final exams in our timetable and we had major IT problems in my exam on Monday) but it's not terrible. The Careers service is pretty decent, most are organised well, and on a day-to-day basis things run pretty smoothly. How good the teaching is does have some impact on how people do in exams - I'm writing this procrastinating studying for my exam today that is for a module I wholly regret choosing because of an awful module lead - but I think at university, while they do sometimes act to try and help out if something is wrong, there's a big element of just doing things and having to take on responsibility yourself. For instance, if the lecture recording for a lecture didn't record properly, they'll often put up the one from previous years, but if I have a s**t lecturer one day who doesn't explain the topic at all, it's up to me to read the textbook and understand the topic. I guess that's the only thing I can say on whether people do well or not. I know people who have failed coursework and had to take resits, and I know people who are consistently scoring firsts across the board. It's not something that can be limited to one or the other.

Hopefully this helps! And try not to get too disheartened by people's comments. I'm the stereotype KCL student of a UCL reject, taking a subject most people assume is because you got rejected from Medicine (I didn't, I knew I didn't want to be a doctor lol), but at the end of the day I picked KCL because it had the best course options for me and just appealed to me more than the others. It has its flaws, but in my experience it's a pretty good uni and definitely not worth the hate :smile:
Original post by Anonymous
Everytime I disclose that Im planning to go to KCL people are so quick to highlight everything wrong with the Uni which makes me doubt everything. Ive heard that the accoms are filled with rich international students who form cliques and classist segregation between themselves and those less privileged. I also heard the accommodations are tiny. Making friends is impossible which I guess is subjective and you have the whole of london to make friends with, esp when i already live in zone 1 london. I also heard that the uni is just s**t in general and people dont do well. Ive got an offer for physics, currently waiting for accommodation to reply.

I think generally speaking people are quite biased towards one uni and another either because they are absolute fanatics/patriots and see nothing wrong with theirs (resulting in extremely negative opinions of others) or they had a bad experience (again subjectives). When I was applying I heard horrible things about unis like Imperial, LSE, Bristol, etc. Every uni has its positives and negatives and saying one is objectively worse by all metrics is not right.

That being said some stereotypes do have some (but very loosely) truth to them. In comparison to campus unis, KCL does generally feel much less university-esque to that of other UK unis which makes it far more isolating and cold. I think the general rule is that in a big city like London, Birmingham or even Manchester, you will not have the same experience as those who go to Durham,Exeter or generally much smaller towns. However, this does not mean that you can't make friends with people. Try to connect over social media and reach out to find people studying your course. There are bound to be people in the same position as you actively searching for someone like you!

In terms of people, its very 50/50 on who u may meet. The best way you can guarantee that you will enjoy your time at uni (wherever you choose to go) is to join societies. Freshers fair is the best way to meet people with the same interest as you. Likelihood is that 'the cliques' ( which exist in every uni not just KCL to be clear) are a small minority of students who may just be a loud voice or just rare but shocking anecdotal experiences that have spread.

In terms of accommodation, it is expensive and at times tiny (that there is no point in sugar coating). Generally no student accomodation is great and many go for mixed student halls rather than there uni designated ones. I would wonder why you would choose accomodation considering you live in zone 1 (which honestly sounds like the easiest to commute from to campus).

Finally, the people dont do well in general is just untrue. There are many who successfully find jobs and finish with a 1st and 2:1. It is a Russel Group Uni at the end of the day so it can't be THAT bad if it is in the group. Though admittedly, the onus is on YOU to study and do well. I think it's key to find a balance between social life and study and as long as you could do that, you will be able to make the most of your experience.

Hope this helps!

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