Not only do you need to pick a university and a course, but if you're applying to Oxford and Cambridge you need to pick a college as well and sometimes this can be the hardest part because every college has a really distinctive personality.

On your application form you need to fill in the college code for Oxford and Cambridge, to tell them which college you want to apply for. You can fill in an open application that is a slightly different process and is covered in a section. The most important thing when picking a college is trying to find somewhere that you are going to be happy, trying to find somewhere that you're going to fit in for the next three, four, potentially five years. Once you've picked a college, you'll be interviewed in that college by that college not by the university as a whole. So, two people that are applying for the same course but at different colleges might have quite different interview experiences.

When you eventually get to Oxford or Cambridge, most of your actual learning will take place within the college environment so all of your tutorials, all of your supervisions will be done within the college. The college is going to have a few lecturers, a few academics associated with it and they are going to offer the course that they teach through the college. The more popular courses are taught at the majority of colleges but the rarer courses, slightly odd combinations aren't going to be taught at every single college. There are a large number of colleges at each university which means each college is actually quite small, generally having less than 500 students. The size of the college and the range of courses offered at Oxford and Cambridge means that you might be the only person or one of two or maybe a small group of 10 people in your year studying your course. Which means when we get around to tutorials, when we get around to supervisions, it is going to be very intimate, it can be one on one with some of the world's leading academics. This doesn't mean that there are only 10 people in the whole university doing your course, it just means there are only a few people at your college doing your course. You will meet all the other people doing the same course as you but that's going to be in big lectures. The people doing the same course as you at the same college as you, you are going to spend a lot of time with. Your lectures, your labs, are going to be university wide, these could have thousands of people in, these are going to be quite impersonal, you're not going to get the same interaction, you're not going to get any time to have conversations.

Some of the brilliant unique things about Oxford and Cambridge are the tutorials, are the supervisions, where you get to have that ongoing academic conversation, where you get to draw out ideas, where you get to sit down with somebody and actually talk about things that you're interested in.

Unless you choose to eat out, the majority of meals are going to be served within the college; so you can get a nice cooked breakfast every morning and then in the evening, dinner. Some of the colleges are very formal, some of them are very traditional so the dinner in the evening is going to be formal dinner so that means ballgowns or academic dress, academic gowns, where you sit down will served a three-course meal and this is very formal, you're expected to you know, show correct etiquette and show proper respect to everyone in the room and then some of the colleges just have standard canteens.

The majority of your social life, at least for the first year is going to be within the college. They will all have their own bars; they will all have their own common rooms where everyone sits around and chats and the bar where you can go and socialize and have a drink if you want to. They're going to have their own clubs and their going to have a large number of clubs, groups, societies, and events to welcome the freshers, or the first years in to the college. The colleges are really like a big extended, really quite large family and they welcome you with open arms when you start in first year. 

Every college has lots of facilities, that you’d expect a normal university to have, so they have places for you to study, they have places for you to eat, they have libraries where you can go and do your work. Of course, the wider university has much larger facilities but if you don't want to travel to far from where you're sleeping, where you're eating to study, then each college will have a place for you to do that. 

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