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Oxford college system - help making sense of it

bear19bear19 12 replies5 threads Junior Member
Hello, I really am unclear about the Oxford college system. Do you take your courses there and have specific tutors assigned to that college? Or is it more a residential college but students from ALL of the Oxford colleges take your lectures/course with you. I can't seem to make sense of it. I understand not all colleges offer each course, but once you've figured out which do how are you supposed to choose which college to? If anyone can help make sense of this for me I'd greatly appreciate it!
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Replies to: Oxford college system - help making sense of it

  • HazeGreyHazeGrey 261 replies4 threads Junior Member
    Here's what my son's experience has been.

    He's reading maths & comp sci. Lectures are at the department level (CS or Mathematical Institute) where students from all the colleges participate. Tutorials are then done at the college level (with faculty from that college) for the first two years (although it is possible to have a tutorial at another college if your college can't accommodate- that happened to him for one of his CS courses in his first year). Everyone takes the same exams.

    For third year, the courses get more specialized, so it is likely that he will have some tutorials outside of his college.

    He chose the college he applied to (Worcester) base on the size of the math cohort there, the feel of the college(he visited during the open days) and the reputation of their culture (not too grindy).
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  • Twoin18Twoin18 2152 replies21 threads Senior Member
    When picking a college, note that the number of places per subject is stated, as well as the admissions stats (applicants, offers, matriculating students) by college. Look at colleges with a critical mass of say 6+ students per year in your subject (they will likely be an automatic group of friends) and perhaps one that is convenient to where your department lectures will be (remember you won’t get to choose the times, if it’s 9am then you have to live with that and get out of bed). And read the prospectus if you can’t visit before applying.

    But be aware that some colleges may be tougher admits because of factors like central location, accommodation all three years, college wealth and prestige that can influence the overall student caliber (see the Norrington table here https://www.ox.ac.uk/about/facts-and-figures/undergraduate-degree-classifications?wssl=1). So if you don’t feel too confident you may consider picking a college which makes offers to a (slightly) higher percentage of applicants in your subject.
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  • collegemom3717collegemom3717 7900 replies84 threads Senior Member
    You can make an "Open" application as well- just let them assign you to a College. Open applications are distributed proportionally across all colleges.

    Also, as many as 30% of students are 'pooled' to another college than the one they applied to.. The goal of pooling (at Oxford- it works a little differently at Cambridge) is to even out the applicants, to make sure that strong students get a place regardless of the vagaries of who else has applied to the college. Oxford tries hard to discourage applicants from trying to game admissions by strategic college selection!

    How lectures & tutorials varies to some extent by subject, by college, and by your own interests. Like @HazeGrey's son, my collegekid did a joint honours course but it was a very small cohort (fewer than 50 students across the university). As a result she had tutorials in other colleges (and had tutorial partners from other colleges) early on as well.

    Most applicants choose the college they apply to based on the sort factors that @Twoin18 mentioned. The Oxford student union puts out an 'alternative' prospectus to help applicants sort out colleges (http://apply.oxfordsu.org/colleges/suggester/) and every Oxford College has its own alternative prospectus online.

    (btw, if you look at the Norrington Tables, with the arguable exceptions of New & Magdalen, all of the colleges have zig-zagged dramatically over the years).
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