The collegiate system is a key part of the unique Oxbridge experience. Being part of a college means that you will spend much of your time in that part of the University.
Oxbridge colleges are worlds in and of themselves, and offer accommodation, food, drink and evening entertainment, along with teaching facilities such as seminar rooms, tutorial rooms and lecture theatres. They usually include all the facilities you need to get by – such as a kitchen, common room, gym, laundry room and so on.
Most colleges offer accommodation to all first-year students, while larger colleges may also extend accommodation to students in their second, third or fourth years. Tutors and lecturers belong to a particular college and so you will spend much of your time working in very small groups with experts who will get to know you very well.
Larger lectures and seminars are held in the faculty buildings for English at both Universities – this is where students from all colleges will congregate to hear lectures and participate in bigger study activities. The faculty buildings also offer libraries and cafes.
The college system means that you will spend much of your time in one set of buildings amongst a few hundred students. Students grow to love their colleges, and rivalry between colleges can become rather fierce with some grudges dating back for hundreds of years!
Taking the time to view different colleges and choose the one that is right for you is essential – wherever you end up, it will be very dear to you for the rest of your life.