Clare College Cambridge


Pete Lowth

Grammar School, Kent


Clare College was recommended to me by my cousin who had been at Cambridge, at a different college, for a couple of years already. It was her answer to the question “where can I apply that’s friendly, lively, and has a good musical reputation?” and she was completely right. When I visited during an open day, I felt so welcomed and was blown away by the vibrant variety of opportunities that studying at Clare would open up to me… and I thought the cellars looked amazing. We could easily never leave Clare and be entertained all year by the host of DJs, comedians, bands, open mic nights and other events held in college.

Applying to anywhere in Cambridge is always going to be a daunting process, in some ways especially for maths, and I was pretty nervous for almost every step of it! My school was very helpful in many ways - I was given a lot of great advice and guidance about my Uni applications, but they did scare us a bit too much. We were given the impression that our time was better spent meticulously spell checking our personal statements than just getting better at our subjects, or that in interviews it all came down to how good your initial hand shake was, or making sure you made exactly the right amount of eye contact.

However, I quickly learnt that all I needed to show was that I was going to work hard, learn quickly, and that I was good enough at maths. I wasn’t asked a single question about why I wanted to study at Clare, Cambridge, or even why I chose maths. It’s not like a job interview, you won’t have to rattle off your well rehearsed answer detailing the last time you showed initiative whilst artfully interweaving tales of your good teamwork and leadership ability.

If you do get an offer, congratulations! But the work is far from over. Clare, along with every other college, will make an offer based on STEP. Be warned that this is a challenging exam, taken by most people along with your summer exams in your last year, but if you start preparing early you’ll get a feel for the kind of questions they ask and it becomes much more manageable than it first appears.

Maths at Clare is very much the same as maths at any other college in Cambridge. We all go to the same lectures, and are set the same work. The differences between colleges appear when it comes down to supervisions, which are usually small tutorial sessions with 1 staff member and 2 or 3 students. These can be amazing sessions, giving you the chance to rack the brains of some of Cambridge’s finest mathematical minds, and my experience of Clare’s supervisors has been very positive.

Aside from work, my main hobby is music. CAMS (Clare alternative music society) has provided many outlets, and platforms, for me to keep playing (mostly bass guitar) with, and for, a host of likeminded people. There are some incredible talents at Clare, especially musically, and its high reputation is well deserved.

Needless to say I loved my first year here, and can’t to get started on the next.