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Um, that'd be me - Stormcaller

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Right - which college should I apply to?
I'm looking at doing NatSci at .cam next year. I'm a friend of Vitenka's, and he's pointed me here enough times that I figured I should just ask. There are just so damn many of the things, and a lot of them look exactly the same on paper. Don't particularly want one of the ultra-traditional colleges, though I don't mind an old one if it's a good mix of that and the modern.
Depends what you want. For example, I wanted: mixed, medium size, no split site, accommodation always provided, central, no STEPs, good NatSci entrance figures. I applied to Christ's (which does sometimes ask for STEPs >.<), but only 'cause I didn't like the sound of the name of MagdaleneCollege (maudlin. ugh). I think, if you genuinely have no preference, don't apply to Trinity or Johns (everyone applies there), and check the numbers of NatScis admitted per number applied. Christ's was quite good - 3 to 4, or something like that in 1997. The AlternativeProspectus might be useful too - SunKitten

No troll intended - just asking for advice :)
I'll be up in Cambridge tomorrow (couple of open days, at ChurchillCollege and EmmanuelCollege), if anyone is or knows a NatSci type currently studying at the uni that I could have a chat with.
(PeterTaylor) Heh. One of my brothers went to an open day at ChurchillCollege with some schoolmates. They took one look at the architecture and headed towards the centre of town to look round other colleges. I suppose the first thing to ask is physical or biological NatSci?
PhysNatSci?, me. Applying elsewhere for Physics, but at Cam I'd do Physical NatSci with 25% CompSci. - Stormcaller
In that case I presume you'll be applying for CompSci (25% option) and switching to NatSci after the first year. I'm not sure where IA 25% lectures are held nowadays - if you wait two weeks and then visit http://www.admin.cam.ac.uk/reporter you'll be able to download the lecture list (it's one of the "specials") - things are probably sufficiently stable ATM that they won't change next year. Odds are that most of the first year lectures will be in the New Museums Site and the Chemistry dept, which would make DowningCollege / PembrokeCollege / Peterhouse / [Emma] local. (Practicals will be held in the corresponding departments, with the possible exception of CS pracs which may be in New Mus). If you plan on specialising in Chemistry one of those four colleges should get bonus marks. Physics (CavendishLabs) and CS (CL) are both well out of the way - RobinsonCollege and ChurchillCollege / Fitz are the nearest colleges.
Hmm... seeing as UCAS? has to be sorted in the next couple of weeks, I'd better get this straight. On my forms I DON'T put down "Natural Sciences" and specify "Physical" and "CompSci 25%" - I actually put down "Computer Science 25%". I'll be effectively doing the NatSci course, but instead of doing three science subjects and maths I'll have two sciences, maths and CompSci, with no other differences. Have I got that right?
[Almost]. You don't get such a wide choice of the two sciences, and the CL recommends talking to a NatSci DoS in the college you're planning on going to.
I seeee.... so it works out differently building-wise and therefore people-wise. I'm ok with the subject restrictions, since I'd most likely be choosing Physics and Chemistry, both of which are offered. I'll try to grab a DoS or someone useful tomorrow.
Ouchy.  That subject mix has possibility of being a whole world of pain, IMHO. That's the two biggest NatSci science modules, Maths, which you have to get a 2:1 in in order to do Physics, CompSci or Maths in the second year, and a friend of mine who did the NatSci - CompSci route described the 25% CompSci as compressing most of the CompSci course into 1/4 the space.  Not saying its impossible, but be prepared for a lot of work!  Good luck.  Oh, one other thing - NatSci is a weird subject where the workload goes DOWN as you move through the years.--Jumlian
That's a slight exaggeration, since CompSci's typically spend 50% of their first-year doing NatSci courses anyway! -- Senji
Okay, half the space rather than a quarter.  Well corrected.  I'd forgotten that as the half of NatSci that they typically did was MathsB? (aka Maths for physicists) and Physics, neither of which I did.  Question to someone who might know: If you want to transfer to full CompSci in the second year after travelling the 25% route would you be at a significant disadvantage compared to those who took the 50% route? --Jumlian
Having done so (from the maths-with-CompSci route) not really.  You are well advised to take additional lectures during the second two terms, when it is apparent that you wish to switch - which may be harder to schedule for the NatSci optioners.  You'll have done fewer practicals, and will have missed out on some of the applied courses - but you'll have the theoretical courses you need fo rthe next year.  --Vitenka  (Too much indentation!)
There is no such thing as a 100% CompSci option in first year, only 50% and 25%, each of which is padded out with NatSci options to produce a full year's worth of work. --M-A
I meant transferring to full CompSci in the second year...sorry (question above refactored)--Jumlian

If you're picking on terms of architecture, you're picking on the wrong terms - Edith
If you're going to be living there for three years, you may as well try to choose a college which looks pretty. Besides, think about your graduation photos.
If I'm living in a place I'm worried about rent, structural problems, food and transportation. Not Architecture, besides Churchill's not that bad. Admittedly it's best viewed at night, or in fog but it could be worse.

I'm a BioNatSci?, and I work in the Zoology Dept, so if you want a brief tour of the Dept or of Christ's, you're welcome :) My email is scattered over the wiki and toothycat main - SunKitten
TheInquisitor is a MathMo, but both Edith and NickTaylor are also around, and are ChurchillCollege NatScis. I recommend looking at TrinityHall, [Emma], SelwynCollege, JesusCollege (of course...), and possibly DowningCollege as places to look at. Chats are feasible. tmg27@cam.
Cheers for the offers; the biological side isn't my thing, but it'd be helpful to talk to someone who is actually AT Cambridge at the moment. Will drop you an email (mine is storm at stormcaller.net).
TheInquisitor, Edith, and NickTaylor all *are* at Cambridge (just starting our fourth years). We're living in Oblivion, which is an easy cycle from most bits of Cambridge, if you want to meet up. Edith's a geologist, and Nick's a physicist - so that might be what you wanted.

Edith went to ChurchillCollege and can give the following information: ChurchillCollege, Fitz and KingsCollege specifically target state school pupils and will be more forgiving towards them in terms of grades and offers (I got this from my Tutor in June so I suspect it is up to date information). As for the Churchill architecture well yes it is awful. I happen to like it but most people think I'm odd. It's also worth noting that people always complain about Churchill's arcitecture and not about much else. While the bills are steadily climbing (I think they are everywhere aren't they?) they try and keep in the bottom 25% of colleges in terms of rent prices. They only give accomodation for 3 years though so if you want to do 4 years then you'll have to get alternate accomodation for one year like we did (See: Oblivion). Edith admits to being biased but is willing to talk/give tours or something if you'd like, e-mail: jrb61 @ cam. ac. uk
Being a state school pupil who is intelligent but a lazy git, that's very useful to know. Nice architecture is a bonus but not really essential, and if the ugly buildings are the worst of the problems then that's a Good Thing©. Ditto for low rent prices. Shame the accomodation is only for three years - I'd probably do the 4-year course, especially as I'd love to do the MITExchangeProgram? - but I'm sure after three years I'd know enough about the area to be able to organise an alternative (as long as I've got broadband, of course) - Stormcaller

Jumlian ended up at FitzwilliamCollege.  They were the only people who would make me an offer.  I applied to ChurchillCollege, as it has a good reputation for science and also engineering.  But beware, beacuse it is also awesomely oversubscribed for those subjects.  I got pooled - i.e. a PFO from ChurchillCollege, meaning that I was good enough to meet the entrance requirements but did not fit their profile of a student and also they were oversubscribed.  RobinsonCollege and FitzwilliamCollege both pulled me out of the pool, and gave me interviews, meaning that they were undersubscribed for science that year - a point worth bearing in mind.  It also means I had 7 separate sub-interviews (3 at Robinson, 2 at Fitz and 2 at Churchill), which was quite stressful.  Only FitzwilliamCollege made me an offer.  You could do a lot worse than Fitz.  I would say that as a plus point, minus the inevitable BeautifulPeople?, Fitz was refreshingly down to earth.  I like that, being a rock-botherer.  Fitz had a fairly even mix of state/private sector schooled individuals, but in many cases nobody cared where you had come from at all, which was a good thing.  Similarly had good male/female ratio (Churchill is often criticised for this, but in a science/engineering dominated college it happens quite easily - I don't know if that is still the case though).  I would also say that architecture is not a sound basis for application.  Old architecture = drafty, often cold rooms with bad/no plumbing.  At least Fitz is modern, heated, and dry, even if it does look like a low-rise multi-storey car park :-) .  Best advice, find out when the open days are for the colleges you want to apply to, or just turn up, and talk to some students there now - a large reason for rejection is picking the wrong place to apply to initially.--Jumlian

Pretty much narrowed down to ChurchillCollege, JesusCollege, Christ's, DowningCollege, [Emma], GirtonCollege, PembrokeCollege, St. Catharine's... but that's still quite a few. Especially looking at ChurchillCollege and JesusCollege at the moment. Not really looked past "S" in the prospectus, either, which is probably silly. Accomodation provided, no STEPs, ideally near to Sci labs. No preference on size, particularly.
Churchill's close to Computer, Physics and Maths Labs :) - SunKitten
Not in first year (LensfieldRoad? lectures, yay!). Plus the EarthSciences and Materials departments are in the centre but then again first year physics practicals are at the Physics labs so... - Edith

Similarly, I'm looking to goto .cam next year to study Eng. Any good pointers for college? I got a couple in mind but would prefer an opinion from those 'in the know'. - Stavlin
English or Engineering? - Edith
Engineering - Stavlin

Hmmm: on that subject should we mention the various college's current network restrictions?
ChurchillCollege: Very Few, they have been known to fine Warez bunnies before now for excessive downloads though.
Fitz: Supposedly allow you do do what you like and bill you for it at the end of the term.
When I was there, provided you weren't doing something excessive (like a mate of mine who had a WebCam that updated with a 300kb Jpeg by ftp every 30 seconds all day everyday), you could do pretty much what you liked, as long as it wasn't going to "bring the college into disrepute". I don't recall that they charged costs either - it was generally a "£20 a term or £15 if you had your own network card" job, although Gwyntar had more to do with the network than I did. --Jumlian
Oh. Seems they did charge, oopsy.--Jumlian

StJohnsCollege: Have been reasonable in the past, but due to their current financial hardships are planning to introduce network charges; no word yet on whether they'll be one-off or per-megabyte.
We'll probably (hopefully?) be using [WASTE] or similar, which is 128-bit (hell, up to 2048-bit) encrypted. They can fine me for bandwidth excess but I doubt they'd catch me on KaZaA etc. :) - Stormcaller
I'd add to that that the computer dept logs access by the megabyte, and some colleges charge.  Fitz certainly did, dunno if they still do - any transatlantic access during peaktimes cost a couple of pence.  --Vitenka
Flibble. Christ's never charged me. Well, I paid for the ethernet card (I 'rented' it for six terms, then got to keep it, although buying my own'd still have been cheaper). I've no idea if they're still doing that. As to Fitz, Bobacus is the person to ask :) - SunKitten

And as final note: If you go to Cambridge, get a bike, you'll not regret it. - Edith
Heh - got that impression pretty strongly when I last visited. - Stormcaller
Mneh.  I survived 3 years at Fitz without one.  You can do Lensfield Road to DowningSite? as fast on foot as on a bike, if you factor in the hassle of bike chains / finding a place to chain it at each end.  If you do buy a bike, allow for buying a new one each year - most of my friends had one stolen annually on average. --Jumlian
I disagree, I used to set off at the same time as some friends from Churchill an usually arrive about 15 minuted before them. Plus I've never had my bike stolen or heard of my friends having bikes stolen. OTOH I have had my bike pump nicked twice.
I only had mine stolen once , but yeah - it is a kind of frequenct occurence.  Plus you either ignore traffic laws, or go pretty much as slowly as on foot, in central cam.  --Vitenka (Just to note, I think that, as I post this, Stormcaller is in .cam, so keep your eyes peeled!  He's on the churchill open day, I think.)
Yeah, I didn't get a bike because I didn't want to risk cycling along Huntingdon Road, due to not having cycled for a long time, and also due to the flagrant disregard of speed limits by cars and more worryingly buses (a speed camera on Huntingdon Road, in the days they had film, emptied a 3500 shot film in a day).  Two students were killed there while I was a student, both by "GoWhippet?" buses. --Jumlian

Weeeell... after a day in .cam, first at the OpenDay? at ChurchillCollege then meeting up with TheInquisitor, Edith and NickTaylor (thanks chaps - useful advice and a nice tour!) I've made a choice. Churchill it is. Reasons? Good for NatSci and CompSci, and reasonably near the relevant labs. High science intake, and very large proportion of state school students. A little drab and... well, ugly, but the inside isn't bad and some parts are even fairly nice. Accomodation looked pretty crap but the rooms were fairly nice, despite the box-like size. To be quite honest, I'm more worried about getting in than about the aesthetics at the moment.

Thanks for all your help, everyone! Stavlin still needs some advice on colleges and Engineering, by the way.




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