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Information about how the college system works at the University of Oxford

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The college system

Making friends

"One of my favourite things about the University of Oxford is the college system because I immediately felt settled and part of a community when I started here. The college system helps you make such great friends because you can eat in the dining hall together, go to events such as BOPs and play sports as part of your college team. Not only do you make great friendships within your year, but the college system really helps you develop friendships with people in other years, which is quite unique."

Natalie, St Hilda's College

Student ambassador Farheen Muhammed


"I remember being really worried about settling into university, but I found that the college system was the perfect place to find a community that you get to know really well, almost like a second family."

Farheen, Jesus College

Student Ambassador Sam Williamson

Something for everyone

"The college system is a unique part of Oxford – each college has its own individual characteristics, from the buildings themselves to the overall atmosphere. Colleges are an ideal size to provide a welcoming community to get involved in; for example, singing with my college’s chapel choir is one of the most important parts of my daily Oxford life. Not to mention the storied (and sometimes hilarious) history of college rivalries"

Sam, University College

Student Ambassador Becky Hu


"It’s great! Especially in the past year, the college system helps to ensure that students have been well supported. My college has created an inclusive atmosphere where we can still connect with other, even if we’re not in Oxford, through virtual meet ups and pub quizzes."

Becky, Lady Margaret Hall

Sports and societies

"The college system gives you a set group of people who you live with, eat with, go to events with which allows you to build very close relationships. Personally I have made most of my close friends within college through sports, societies and socials.  The college system also gives you a lot of support with your course since there will be about 5-10 people in your year in your college that study the exact same stuff as you meaning you guys can all work together." 

Hadi, Balliol College

How do I choose a college?

Here are some suggestions from our student ambassadors

Beth, St Hilda’s college

Have a look on the individual college websites to get a feel for the ethos and outlook to see which you feel would suit you most. All the colleges are really lovely, so don't stress too much about which you pick, and you may anyway get allocated to a different college during the admissions process. That happened to me with St Hilda's college, and I love it here so I am very glad I was allocated to Hilda's! College life is the best I love it! A lot of my friends are from my college because that is where you live, eat and have some social events, so this means you meet a lot of people who are outside of your course. I really enjoy eating in college halls because I meet up with my friends who are doing different courses. I spent ages picking and chose Worcester college, but was then allocated to St Hilda's college after my interview which I am really happy about! I have absolutely loved it here and it couldn't have worked out better. Hi! I think you can get a good feel for the colleges by looking on their websites. Everyone tends to feel their own colleges are the best, which reflects that all colleges are lovely places to be. I didn't choose St Hilda's college, but was allocated here after interview and I couldn't be more happy with how it has worked out, so don't worry too much :)

Heather, St John's College

When I was shortlisting colleges, I made a prioritized list of criteria I wanted them to fulfill (location, accommodation for all years of course, rent, size etc) and eliminated down the list until I had about 5 then looked round and eliminated down to 2 then met the tutors to find the one. This method really helped me so would recommend, but you will be happy in whichever college you end up going to.

Reuben, St Peter’s College

College life is what makes Oxford different, whereas joining another university you’ll be part of 1000s of undergraduates, here you part of a group of 100 or so college freshers, so the dynamic is much more of a small group in which you know almost everyone. The best part of this for me has been to study with the other engineers in my college. Working on problem sheets with other people is a great way to learn, as other people will always see different ways to solve the same problem.