Grammar School, West Sussex
Making decisions is hard. You never feel equipped with quite enough information to definitively choose the right option. That’s certainly how I felt when it came to deciding what I wanted to study at university. Maths, Economics and English all featured as possibilities. Indeed, my first personal statement was written for Maths. Ultimately I opted for Science, and its blend of quantitative and qualitative skills; essay writing crossed with problem solving and number crunching.
Having decided on what to study, Cambridge was the only real contender for where. The Natural Science Tripos is unrivalled in its breadth. For someone who likes to keep their options open this is perfect. Science is increasingly inter-disciplinary. Physicists have contributed to some of the biggest breakthroughs in Biology, think Watson and Crick, as my friends studying the Physical Sciences never tire of reminding me. Cambridge embraces this inter-connectivity, and it is perhaps this that gives the university its leading edge in the Sciences.
The next decision to be made was which college to attend, which presents a paradox. Which college you go to plays a large part in defining the experiences and opportunities you will have. It dictates the people you will meet, the friend’s you will make and potentially the people you will stay in touch with for the rest of your life. It’s a big deal. But ultimately, wherever you go you have the best time, meet the best people and have the best opportunities. Maybe it isn’t so important after all? Having confessed to a complete lack of objectivity, I can now talk about how great Clare is.
Clare calls itself the friendly college. This is a self-fulfilling prophecy. It means it attracts the kind of people who make a college friendly. The atmosphere is cultivated by the fellows and tutors of the college. They genuinely place welfare above academic achievement. This actually tends to result in good academic results; people feel comfortable and therefore perform better. This friendly atmosphere is maintained by everyone involved with the college, from porters and buttery staff to gardeners and bedders. Clare also has an ideal central location, the best gardens in Cambridge, and the right number of students. Being a mid-sized college means it remains personal whilst providing a range of facilities that smaller colleges struggle to compete with.
First year Science is a serious challenge. You will have to work harder than you’ve ever worked before. But the location, opportunities and people make it more than worthwhile. Clare is a fantastic community to be part of, and there’s always so much going on. Clare Comedy, Clare Jazz and Clare Ents attract crowds from across the university. All are held in Clare Cellars, which is also home to the best bar in the university. Clare has a great musical tradition that continues to this day, with both classical and alternative music featuring. Add to that a great May Ball and a plethora of sports teams, and suddenly, decision making becomes a lot easier.