When I decided to apply to study at Cambridge, I didn’t have many criteria for choosing a college; I knew that I didn’t want to apply to one of the very large colleges, but equally I didn’t want to be at a tiny one. I had a look through the prospectus to make a shortlist of colleges and asked a few relatives and family friends for recommendations, and then decided to visit Cambridge to have a look around and get a feel for the colleges that I was considering. I can’t really think of one specific thing which made me decide to choose Clare; the brilliant gardens and the location near the centre of town certainly contributed, but overall it was the feeling that this was a place where I could be happy living and learning.
After applying to Clare, I was offered an opportunity to come and have two interviews, as well as to sit a Thinking Skills Assessment paper. The interview experience was a little daunting but I tried to take the advice that I had been given: to be myself, and not to worry about asking for help working through any questions they might ask. I think the most useful advice I was given about Cambridge interviews is that they’re not trying to find out what you know, they want to see how you learn, so don’t expect to be able to do everything they ask you to! One of my interviews was essentially composed of working through a maths problem, and for the other I was given an article to read before the interview and then asked some questions about it, as well as some questions about me, and why I chose computer science.
Clare has a reputation for being a college with lots of friendly people, and from my experiences I have to agree. I have met loads of lovely people and made plenty of great friends. On the academic side of things, I found that the demands on my time were quite hefty; with 12 lectures a week as well as practicals and supervisions it can get pretty busy, but there’s still time to maintain a healthy social life. In addition to computer science in the first year, we also take a maths paper and a paper from the Natural Sciences Tripos (I chose physics). This gave me a chance to broaden my studies, as well as providing a great opportunity to meet and socialise with the people studying natural sciences.