Clare College Cambridge


Tristan Withers

Independent School, Northamptonshire


I chose Clare mainly through a process of elimination, without thinking about anything academic: I didn’t want a college that was too big, too small, too far away from the centre of Cambridge, too new. I wanted to go somewhere pretty which looked like a postcard of Cambridge. It was fairly easy to narrow down the options to just a few colleges by looking through the prospectus. Then I was able to wander around my choices on an open day and decide which college was nicest.

I also wanted to make sure that my prospective Director of Studies (DoS) and Admissions Tutor were not against gap years as I was applying for deferred entry. This was quite easy to do just by emailing the Admissions Office to ask.

Having arrived at Clare, there are loads of other reasons I would recommend it for: not only is everyone very friendly and willing to help you when you arrive (I know most colleges say this about themselves but here the 2nd and 3rd years will noticeably go out of their way to help a lost/confused Fresher) but there is a lot of mingling and socialising between different years. It seems from talking to people at other colleges that as a college Clare is a closer-knit community than some of the others.

As for Cambridge in general, the college system is great. It gives you a smaller, friendlier atmosphere than if you were just one of 20,000 students. It also means that you get far more chances to try new things as lots of clubs and societies work on a college level. For example, Clare sports teams are very friendly, accessible and often not of a particularly high standard, meaning it’s very easy to join even if you have never played before, but if you want to take your sport to a higher level you can always play for the university team.

Being a medic, one of my main worries before arriving was the workload and whether I would have time to do anything else, such as joining societies and learning new skills. However, I found that throughout first year I was able to play lacrosse at university level, squash at college level, play some music, try out new things such as ballroom dancing and salsa, whilst still going to the bar and going out 3 or 4 nights a week.