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Living on campus

Girl studying outside on grass

If you are heading to uni next year then it is highly likely that you have been considering your accommodation options. Residential colleges and halls of residence are the most popular options, and ones which are commonly associated with the university experience.

Most students choose to live at colleges and halls of residence because they provide a great opportunity to live close to (or on) campus, become totally immersed in university life and make lifelong friends. While student apartments and shared rental houses may also offer proximity to campus and good social opportunities, residential colleges and halls pride themselves on the well-rounded experience they offer.

Features of college life:

  • New students are subjected to an extensive orientation program to help them settle in before the start of semester. Orientation is a combination of information sessions, campus tours and social events. Attending parties, completing dares and learning college songs will all help to make your orientation week one that you are not likely to forget.

  • The older residential colleges offer numerous sporting, academic and cultural opportunities and expect all students to participate — from playing in college sporting teams to acting in the annual college play. Pastoral care is also a high priority for residential colleges, which generally provide students with tutorial programs to compliment university classes and cooked meals eaten in a hall with other students (formal dinners where students are required to wear robes are typically held weekly).
  • Halls of residence are less formal and structured, and generally do not provide academic tuition or meals. Students can experience similar sporting and cultural activities and a full calendar of social events, whilst still maintaining some independence.
  • The highlight (and the biggest source of distraction) for many college students would have to be the parties. From hanging out in the common room with friends, to low-key (often themed) gatherings and annual balls, college is just one party after another.

  • While the college experience is certainly not for everyone (some may find it a little smothering), for first years who want to enrich their university experience, immerse themselves in an active community, access extra pastoral support and make loads of new friends, it might just be the perfect fit. Many students leave after their first or second year to seek more independent living arrangements, often finding shared accommodation with a couple of their new college friends.

Applying:

  • Because colleges and halls of residence are such a popular option, competition is fierce and you will need to meet deadlines (generally November). Most colleges will want to determine what talents and attributes you will bring to the college and whether you will be a good fit.

  • See college websites to check application dates, application methods and the admission process, because these may vary greatly from college to college.

  • The more prestigious colleges are often quite selective about the students they admit and may even hold interviews. Be prepared to list your academic achievements, sporting exploits, co-curricular achievements and involvement in your school and community in your application and discuss these things in depth.

  • Often students apply to their first preference and unsuccessful students’ applications will go into a pool so that they have a chance to secure a place at one of the other university colleges.

Handy tips:

  • When choosing a college it is important to research all the options thoroughly and attend some tours of the grounds. Every college has a different feel, different living and meal arrangements and a different price tag, so it is important to find the best fit for you.

  • Colleges and halls of residence are generally the most expensive student accommodation options (especially those offering tutorials and meals), so don’t forget to apply for scholarships and bursaries offered by the college.