If you have decided to apply for a place at Cambridge University, then you will understandably be incredibly excited about what the future has to hold.

However, you will then need to make a decision about which college you would like to apply for.

Your university experience will be positive no matter which choice you make, however you may have preferences. This guide will help you to decide exactly which college is right for you, and how you can go about making the right choice.

Consider an open application

If you really don’t know which college to apply for, and you’re not too concerned about where you might be placed, then an open application might be the best one for you.

This is where university staff will assign you to a college. This will usually be a college with lower application levels, but this doesn’t mean that it might not be the perfect college for your needs.

See who each college accepts

There are certain colleges that have limited intake – for example Lucy Cavendish and Newnham only accept women, and Clare Hall and Hughes Hall only accept mature students.

It is your choice about whether you want to go for a college like this or whether you would prefer a mix of people – there are benefits to both types.

There are also some colleges that only accept students on certain courses, so you can discount any immediately that don’t accept students from the course that you are applying for.

Consider the location

Some people like to be right on the doorstep of where their lectures will be, and others prefer to be out of the way so that they can switch off when they’re not in class – and your preference will make a difference when it comes to which college you apply for. If you choose one that is a little further away from the university buildings, you will need to make sure that you are able to get to classes each day.


There is a huge amount of variation when it comes to the facilities that are available at each of the colleges.

For example, some have free internet, or free printing. Others have sports and leisure facilities.

Not everything will appeal to everyone, so it’s worth having a look around to see what each of the colleges has to offer, and then trying to make a decision based on that.

If you’re a musician, you won’t want to go to a college without either a provision of practice rooms, or the freedom to practice in bedrooms, for example.

Visit your top choices

If you can’t narrow down which college you’d like to go to, then a visit is important.

Sometimes the best thing to do is to get a “feel” for a place, and see whether you can really imagine yourself living there or not. You may be surprised – a college that you were set upon might seem like somewhere you just wouldn’t want to be when you actually visit.

See what other people think

Nothing is better than being able to talk to other students, and the internet is a great resource for this.

A simple internet search allows you to see what other people think about the various colleges, and this information can be much more valuable than what you might read in articles written by the university, for example.

Don’t rush your decision

If you let the excitement get in your way, then you may find that you’re not making the right decision for your needs. Instead, you should be methodical, and weigh up the pros and cons of each one.

There will be many that you can discount immediately, but other decisions may be harder.

Ultimately, your university experience is what you make it, and although your choice of college is important, it isn’t something to worry too much about, provided you’ve done plenty of research.