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The college system

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The college system

Student Ambassador James Leader

Meeting people

"The college system is great as it allows you to make friends and form a community with people that aren’t in your year or subject group, in a way that is quite rare at other universities. This leads to more opportunities on both the social and serious side, and means more support is available when times are tough."

James, 3rd year, Somerville

Young woman smiling

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, 2nd Year, 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, 1st Year, 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, 1st Year, 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, 2nd year, Lady Margaret Hall

Young man smiling on mountain top

Sports and societies

"The college system gives you a community of people that do all different subjects, and it’s nice to learn a bit about many different subjects through them. It also provides an outlet for less serious sports and societies that you wouldn’t want to participate at a university level." 

Felix, 4th Year, Balliol College

How do I choose a college?

Here are some suggestions from our student ambassadors

Beth, 2nd year, 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 :)

James, 3rd year, Somerville College

Things to consider when choosing a college are: cost of accommodation, distance from department, distance from the centre of Oxford, size of college, how nice it looks, gym facilities, student kitchen facilities. I just chose one at random and didn't get in, being 'pooled' to Somerville. Everyone loves the college they end up at though so it's not something to worry about toooo much.

Heather, 2nd year, 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.

Rosie, 4th year, University College Oxford

I knew there were a few things I was looking for in a college. Ideally, I wanted my college to be pretty centrally located for convenience. I also looked for good value accommodation. At Univ, everyone pays the same amount for accommodation but it's all really good quality! This means that you don't need to worry about whether you can afford a room in the same bit of college as your friends. Finally, I really liked that Univ was one of the oldest colleges, with lots of interesting traditions. However, it's worth saying that everyone loves the college they end up at - they all feel like home once you've settled in!