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      03.05.2001 00:22
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      Oxford and Cambridge operate collegiate systems. Oxford University is composed of over thirty independent colleges. The colleges are not just halls of residence they also provide some teaching and each college has its own distinct character. Each college has its own stereotypical student, which is associated with the public image of the college. Magdalen is meant to be full of posh rich kids, who are nothing like Laura Spence. Like most stereotypes the Oxford college stereotype is composed of nothing but myths. The colleges handle the application process. Choosing your college is very important. In this opinion I will try to describe just one specific college, my college, New College. For a good overview of Oxford in general see MykReeve's article "Lord is my Light". Overview New College New College is a large college (700 students, 120 undergraduates admitted every year) situated in a central position in Oxford. It is within walking distance of all the main faculties in Oxford and is probably the best college in terms of location. It is a liberal arts college. 40% of students do scientific subjects, which is below average in the university. Males outnumber females by 4:3. However next year female freshers will outnumber male freshers for the first time. “Famous” alumni include Hugh Grant and Angus Deaton (not really worthy of a mention). Accommodation New College offer students some of the best accommodation in the university. As Oxford university accommodation is generally of a good standard New College students are, at the very least, comfortable. Most of the rooms have been recently renovated and are generally in a good condition. In the first year you will definitely get en-suite and an Ethernet connection, which allows the Internet, in your room. Most of the other rooms are being upgraded to have Ethernet capability. New College, unlike most other colleges offers accommodation to 2nd years. The 2nd year accommodation is generally of a slightly lower standard and to get en-suite you will have to come high on the room ballot, like I did :) Most 3rd years have the opportunity to live in. The Weston building, next to the sports ground, has 100 modern rooms. Quite a few 3rd years live out however. At the moment the rooms are subsidised and the rent is quite low at £55 per week. However the Governing Body want to put the rents up in the future, so expect higher rents. Food In the first year you will not have any cooking facilities or access to kitchens. However all meals are available in College and most 1st years eat in. The food is cheap and of an average quality. In the 2nd and 3rd years you can share a kitchen if you want. The college has two dinner sittings, informal and formal but here is no difference between them. Every other Friday there is guest dinner, which is extremely good quality food for just £6. Surroundings New College, like many other colleges, is endowed with very impressive buildings. The main hall where you eat is 14th century, as is the chapel next to it. The chapel is quite amazing and has a 40ft high screen with statues carved. The college is quite large and has two impressive quads. The college also has a garden and a cloister with a suitably impressive oak tree in the middle. The garden has a large mound in the centre of it which is worthy of note for 2 reasons. Firstly it is meant to the a burial pit dating from when the plague visited Oxford in the 14th century, although this seems unlikely. The other remarkable thing about the mound is that it squeaks. Clapping in front of it produces a squeaking noise that defies any explanation. The architecture of the college gives it a gothic feel as the gargoyles stare down at you. The college has a large sports ground, with grass tennis courts, two squash courts and a gym. Teaching New College has a good academic reputation. From my experience the teaching has been of a very good standard. More teaching is done inside the college than in any other college, which is a testament to the quality and depth of the teaching staff at the college. The college has many famous names amongst the fellows: Richard Dawkins, Christopher Allsop and Alan Ryan. Since the college is quite large there will be lots of other people doing your course. One of the main strengths of Oxford is the calibre of the other people doing your course. Everyone at New College has someone to discuss their work with inside the college. Atmosphere The most important thing about a college is the people. Of course the atmosphere of a college is perhaps its most intangible quality. New College is a large college. This means that you won’t know everyone in your year. On the other hand a large college means that there will always be lots of different social groups. This means that it is sometimes unnecessary to leave the college. The only problem I find is that the college does tend to be slightly insular at times. New College does have a good college spirit, despite its size, and there are New College bar crawls and other social events. The JCR committee are very active in promoting social events and clubs and societies. New College has lots of clubs and societies. If you are not interested in sport at university level then New College has a range of different sports team. New College has a friendly atmosphere and everyone fits in somewhere. New College students are a diverse group of people. The senior members of the college do not enforce any strict rules and there is a relaxed atmosphere. On the whole people are very considerate with others. The JCR common room and the Bar (see my opinion on the Oxford Bar review) are well attended. The JCR as the body is quite politically active and the meetings are interesting and fun. There are good support services withi n the college as a first port of call for anyone in any kind of distress. New College does not have gardens as big as Magdalen, it does not have the academic reputation of Balliol, it does not have the diversity of Wadham, it is not as rich as St Johns, it is not as famous as Christ Church, but, in my opinion it is the best college. New College are having a rather large and lavish masked ball in a couple of weeks. If you are interested in the more decadent side of Oxford have a look at the website at: www.newcollegeball.com College Homepage www.new.ox.ac.uk JCR Homepage www.new.ox.ac.uk/~jcr/

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