Questions about Starting University
How and when am I assigned accommodation?
At Selwyn, all of the incoming first-years stay Cripps Court. The rooms are randomly selected, unless you specify a preference for a slightly cheaper (or more expensive) room at the relevant time, but they’re all en-suite and all more or less identical, the only difference being that cheaper rooms are smaller. If you have accessibility requirements, the College will handle this. You’ll be told which room you’re in just before arrival.
Do my first-year results matter?
Your examination results from all years will appear in your transcript so employers will be able to see your results from first-year (except in the case of prelim examinations in English and History). All courses will have academic requirements for progressing onto the next year, see more on the course websites.
What are the clubs in Cambridge like?
Nightlife in Cambridge gets conflicting reviews because the judgement is very much dependent on where you come from and hence what you’re comparing it to…there is certainly plenty of variety with several affordable clubs, and some with multiple floors, such that whatever music you’re looking for, on whatever night you want it, then you’ll have a good time!
Can I bring a car with me to Cambridge?
A permit is required in order for a student to keep a car in Cambridge. Permits are only given on medical or mobility grounds. Find out more about eligibility on the University Admin's page on car-park elegibility.
Luckily, public transport links to the city are very good, and you are provided some storage space for the vacations to leave bulky belongings that you don’t need in college.
The U bus is subsidised by the university (costing £1 a journey) and runs across the city. Cycling and even walking can be just as fast in busy morning traffic, and nothing is a very long walk away from Selwyn.
What is a college family?
At Selwyn, every fresher will be given a pair (or more) of “college parents” from second year, at least one of whom will be from their own subject (or as close to it as possible). They usually get in touch with you before arriving in Cambridge and are able to answer any questions you may have. This also means everyone has at least one college sibling, who it is nice to meet on your first day (your parents may come along to meet them too!). In Freshers’ week and later in your first term, there will be events aimed at college families to attend together, so as well as being another support mechanism, it also results in better integration between year groups.
What shops are there in Cambridge?
Cambridge has similar shops to any other city. There are supermarkets, shopping centres and markets and lots of independent shops too. It’s worth taking a look online, for example Google Maps, if you want to see what there is on offer.
Do I need to buy books for my course?
Very few people ever have to buy any books in Cambridge, even though some colleges may give students grants for this. There are so many libraries available to students with such a vast range of books that it’s not usually necessary, especially when many books may even be taken out for the whole of Christmas, Easter and even summer vacations! If you do need to buy books before arrival, then you will receive contact from your Director of Studies instructing you what to do.
I’m still worried that I won’t fit in at Selwyn – what can I do?
You likely will! We have people with all kinds of personalities and backgrounds at Selwyn: there's certainly no “typical student” in Cambridge, which means you’ll find common ground with people both in the college and across the university.
Don’t believe any outdated stereotypes you may hear: Selwyn promotes, and its current student body showcases, both equality and diversity. The incoming 2019 Selwyn Freshers are made up of 57 male and 60 female students (this approximate 1:1 ratio is maintained year-on-year) and 74.7% (rising annually) of these are state-educated. In terms of cultural diversity, 18% of the students are from outside of the UK, and they represent a total of ten different countries, from both within and outside the EU.
Also, remember that it’s completely normal for everyone to feel nervous about moving to University and entering such a different environment. Be assured that all the support you need will be here when you arrive so you can start enjoying your time here straight away.
If you are still worried, and have some specific questions just get in contact firstname.lastname@example.org and we will always be happy to help, or, maybe you’d like to read some student profiles to see the range of people here for yourself --- see our Students of Selwyn page on Facebook and Instagram! Students of Selwyn Facebook Page Students of Selwyn Instagram Account
I’ve accepted my offer – what should I do now?
Your college will be in touch with anything they need you to do before you begin your course. You should also look at your course website to see if there’s anything they want you to do to prepare for your studies.
What should I expect from Freshers’ week?
Every College will have a slightly different Freshers’ week. There’ll be events run by CUSU, such as the Freshers’ fair where you’ll find representatives from a range of clubs and societies. There will also be events run in your college; this will always include a range of events that both do and don’t involve alcohol. These might include society taster sessions, pub crawls, quiz nights and more. Colleges will usually send you some form of ‘Freshers’ Guide’ that will contain more information once your place has been confirmed.
I don’t like clubbing – how will I make friends?
People make friends in a variety of places at Cambridge: you’ll meet people on your course, in your college and at any society events. You might also meet people through your friends’ friends. Clubbing is definitely not a requirement to be social - there are plenty of Cambridge students who never or rarely go clubbing and plenty that do.
Do I need a bike in Cambridge?
No, although they can be helpful! For most colleges, you’ll usually be able to walk from your college to your department in less than half an hour. If you do have a bike, you can cycle anywhere in Cambridge in under twenty minutes.
When do I find out about the arrangements for the start of term?
Once you have received your results and your place is confirmed, you will be contacted by the college in the following weeks about arrangements for the start of term. You will also hear from the college Freshers’ reps, who organise Freshers’ week, about the timetable for arrival. Finally, you should be contacted by your college parents; students in older years who can help you with any questions you might have and with moving in.
What should I bring with me?
Your college or Freshers’ representatives will be in touch with advice on what you should bring with you. There's lots of information and packing lists online, so have a look around for ideas. Remember that if you're not planning on cooking, you can save money by only buying the kitchen equipment you think you'll need - there's plenty of shops in Cambridge if you find out you've forgotten something! The college will also let you know if any items are prohibited - for example mini-fridges are not permitted unless with medical necessity.
What libraries will I have access to?
The University library is right next to Selwyn. You will also have access to the Selwyn library and most department/faculty libraries – some of which are open 24/7. There is also a large public library in the centre of Cambridge.
Do I need to do any preparatory work?
Your director of studies will let you know if there’s any compulsory work you have to do. You should also check your course website to see what information they have for incoming students. At the very least, most will have a suggested reading list to help prepare you for the course.
How can I get in contact with other offer holders?
Facebook is probably the best resource for this. There will be unofficial pages for offer holders that you can join, with official Freshers’ pages run by both CUSU and the Colleges popping up when places have been confirmed. You should bear in mind that the unofficial pages won’t be moderated and you might find people spreading misinformation - so take them with a pinch of salt.
There are also meet events in various locations around the country, divided by course, once you have met your offer and your place is confirmed. These are entirely optional but are a good way to meet students face-to-face.