If you ask any student at Cambridge which the best college is, every single one will reply ‘my college’. What this shows is that whichever college you eventually choose, you’ll be sure to have a wonderful time studying there. In truth, all colleges are more similar than they are different.
This can make the task of choosing which college to apply to quite difficult, as they all seem pretty much the same. Many current students will actually struggle to give you many reasons why they came to their decision. Most just chose a college that they felt comfortable in. Despite this, each college does have its own special qualities and they do differ in a number of important respects.
I would like to tell you what it’s like to be a student here at Jesus, which hopefully will make that decision a little easier.
One of the first things people find out about when choosing a college is location. We’re a pretty central college – not the closest to the town centre, but certainly not the furthest away. We’re less than five minutes walk to the nearest shops and about a 5 or 10 minute bike ride to most subjects’ lectures and libraries. Even if you don’t have a bike, the furthest students have to walk is about 15 minutes across town, which means that you’ll be able to sleep in a bit longer than you can while you’re at school. The good thing about being slightly out of the centre is that we have really big grounds and its always pretty quiet here, with not many tourists making it along the road to Jesus. Equally though, you don’t have to stumble too far to get home after a night out.
Jesus is slightly older than your average college – it was founded over 500 years ago! You’ll see the tradition and history as you walk around, particularly with the Chapel, the Hall and some of the central courts. In fact, the College’s Chapel is the oldest building in the whole University that is still in use – it even predates the College itself! In this respect, Jesus has that classic Cambridge college historic feel. Having said that, many of Jesus’ facilities are actually quite modern. The library, bar and most of the accommodation was recently refurbished. As well as this, the tradition doesn’t extent to daily lives much – we don’t talk to each other in latin or get our post delivered by owl or anything like that! Personally, I’ve found Jesus to be a nice mix of the old and the new.
In terms of size, Jesus is slightly larger than average. We’ve got about 500 undergraduate students and 200 graduates. Jesus has got a fantastic close-knit community – typically you’ll know most people in your year and many in the years above and below you. Jesus is big enough so that everybody finds a group of close friends that they enjoy hanging out with.
You’ll often hear about the atmosphere of a college and I think that this is one of Jesus’ strengths. We’re a very friendly and relaxed college. When I first arrived a few years ago, the thing that really struck me was how welcoming everybody was – the staff & all the other students really went out of their way to make you feel at home as quickly as possible. One common impression is that Cambridge is only for posh people who’ve been to certain schools and are really clever. I really want to stress that this is not the Cambridge I know. People do not care about where in the country you’re from or what school you’ve been to. People all treat each other as equals, making the community here really special and friendly. We’re a fantastically diverse college. There are people from all backgrounds, from all places in the country and indeed from abroad. There are so many people with such a huge range of interests, which means college life is always interesting. In freshers’ week, you’ll be given a college family, which is two 2nd year students whose job it is to help you settle in and help you out if you need it to begin with. Don’t worry, your college mum won’t come round to your room and tell you to wash you dirty socks or anything like that- they’re just there to help you get started in a new environment. I found this to be a great way for you to get to know people and start to feel at home straight away. You also have a college brother or sister, another fresher, which means you’ve already got a friend as soon as you arrive!
‘About Jesus College’ is taken from a recent Open Day speech by the JCSU President.