How to Choose Which Cambridge College I Should Apply To?

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Which Cambridge College Is the Easiest to Get Into?

how to choose a cambridge college

“The chances of getting into Cambridge University are higher if I apply to a lesser known College”

This is false.

When it comes to wondering what is the easiest Cambridge college to get into, there are many myths to acknowledge. Although it makes logical sense to think that applying to a less popular college will make it the easiest college to get into Cambridge admissions tutors know that this is not the case. It is true that your application will be weighed against other applicants, but when it comes to which cambridge college is easiest to get into, each application must meet the set criteria as laid out by the University to even be considered for a place. 

How to Choose a Cambridge College

Each college may have a different set of criteria on which they judge applicants. These criteria include academic and personal achievements and are characterised by cut-off scores, e.g. meeting the minimum A-level requirements, writing a good Personal Statement and scoring highly on any relevant Admissions Tests for a relevant Cambridge Course. Colleges may also ask for additional written work or assessments.

easiest cambridge college to get into
Consider different factors when choosing a Cambridge college

Which Cambridge College Should I Apply to?

Now we have busted the myth that there is no easiest Cambridge college to get into, it is important to choose a college that is right for you. It is important to research the colleges that offer the course you are interested in and visit these college on Open Days. Consider factors such as:

  • Location
  • Student Life
  • Teaching style
  • Access to amenities and resources
  • Accommodation fees

While the tuition fees for the University of Cambridge do not change depending on the college you choose, it is important to remember that accommodation fees may vary. Currently (as of 2024), the cheapest Cambridge college in this regard is Homerton and St. Edmund’s, with rooms starting from £100 per week.

choosing a cambridge college
Homerton college is one of the cheapest Cambridge colleges in terms of accommodation fees

In short, due to the prestigious reputation of the university and in answer to ‘what Cambridge College should I apply to?’, Cambridge has no reason to lower its standards for any student, and so, applying to a less popular Cambridge college and Cambridge course does not increase your chances of getting a place.

However, there are things you can do to maximise your application and increase your chances of getting a place in the Cambridge course and Cambridge college. For the most part, a well-written Personal Statement, high predicted A-Level grades, a successful interview and scoring highly on any Admissions Tests will give you a very good chance of gaining a place in a relevant Cambridge course. Check out Oxbridge Mind tutoring and Oxbridge Mind articles to help you improve your application. 

Cambridge Winter Pool

Cambridge operates a ‘Winter Pool’, which is where you have an attractive application but the Cambridge college you have applied to is oversubscribed, and so the university puts you into the ‘pool’. There are several things that can happen whilst you are in the ‘pool’, you can be interviewed by another Cambridge college, you can be given a place by another college without an interview, your original college may ‘take you back’, or you may just be unsuccessful this time. 

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If you are re-interviewed, interviews take place in January following your UCAS application submission. This is another reason why applying to an under-subscribed college won’t work to your advantage. 

A useful way to choose the best-fit Cambridge college for you is by process of elimination. Some colleges only accept certain demographics, e.g. graduates or women and these colleges tend to have a smaller student population. 

Cambridge Colleges by Demographic

The Cambridge colleges that admit only postgraduate students are:

Cambridge colleges that admit students over the age of 21 and postgraduate students are:

The Cambridge colleges that are women-only are:

Since you’ll be living at this college for the next 3 years at least, a number of factors are important. These include the location, the reputation of your subject at Cambridge college, accommodation, the Admissions process (and whether you will be willing to take additional tests/interviews), and the traditions of the Cambridge colleges. As each college differs slightly in terms of these features, our Oxbridge experts have compiled a few comparisons.

Cambridge Colleges by Price

The cheapest colleges are:

These costs include accommodation fees, laundry fees, the cost of pints at the college, and the hall meal charges. The costs vary slightly so it is worth checking the Cambridge college website for the exact prices. If you are wanting to save money and keep to your budget, then it is worth considering these colleges as an option.

which cambridge college
Clare Hall College is one of the most expensive Cambridge colleges

Alternatively, the most expensive colleges are:

Again, it is worth checking the college websites for the exact prices of the cost of living. 

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Location of Cambridge Colleges

Although all Cambridge colleges will provide you with accommodation throughout your undergraduate degree, it would be useful to look at where exactly this is. A central college does not necessarily mean its rooms will be in the centre of Cambridge. Most second-year accommodation is further away from the centre, so if the location is important to you or if you are not planning on cycling, this is worth investigating.

There are a few colleges not located close to the centre of Cambridge, so a bike may come in handy if you are considering any of these colleges. (Cambridge is a biking city, after all!). These colleges are:

Every college is relatively close, but if you are running late, then a 5-minute walk will take a lot longer than a 20-minute walk.

Different Cambridge colleges use different balloting systems. Some colleges give priority to students who do well in exams, whereas others just use a random ballot system. Additionally, some colleges charge the same rate for all of their rooms, whilst others charge different rates depending on the size and location of the rooms.

On the contrary, not-so-good reasons for choosing colleges include, how famous it is, whether your friends are applying, or if your favourite celebrity studied there. All colleges have societies, and sports facilities and the teaching standards are all similar, so these should not be determining factors in choosing a college either. Open days and talking to current students and tutors are some of the best ways to help make your decision too. 

If you are struggling with choosing a Cambridge college, why not speak to one of our Cambridge admissions tutors who will support you in making a decision by giving you further insights into life at the college and the course offered.

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