Clare College Cambridge

Wulfstan Scouller

My decision to apply to Cambridge to study history was entirely decided by the course. The history tripos (tripos just means course) at Cambridge gives us so much liberty and choice to choose practically any part of British and European history.

Having decided upon Cambridge, I was then presented with the dilemma of which college I wanted to apply to. Somewhat overwhelmed by the choice of almost 30 colleges with so many similarities, differences and quirks, I was extremely glad that my history teacher mentioned the name Clare. Looking into the college, its fellows, its history, its location and its atmosphere led me to decide that Clare was the right college for me.

Interviews take place in early December. For history, we have two interviews. I had one at 9am, which was mainly about my piece of written work. This was essentially a relaxed academic discussion of the subject matter; make sure you know your essay and subject matter well, but don’t feel you have to be the world expert on it! The next interview was at 4pm (the time in between was an excellent opportunity to wander around Cambridge and get a feel for the town) and was about a source, which I had been asked to analyse for an hour beforehand. Then came the curve ball question “How would you write a history of time?”. There is no right way to answer these questions. Just take your time to think, talk through your thinking and justify your answer; the fellows are interested to see how you approach a complex question.

By January I found out that my application had been successful, and we’ll fast forward to October that year, when I had got my required grades and was now at Clare. Freshers week might seem overwhelming, but Clare is such a friendly place with such wonderful second years looking after us that it felt easy. Over the past two terms, I’ve acted, written for the college newspaper, participated in Union debates, rowed and done so much. Don’t be afraid to try everything and see what takes your fancy!

As for the course, I was extremely pleased to find that it suited me to the ground. Weekly supervisions on an essay which you have written are always fun opportunities to really push your critical thinking and knowledge.

The thing that I’ve loved the most about Clare, Cambridge and university life is the independence which I have. You become master of what you learn, what you do outside of work and nothing is there to restrict you. Historians are great fun and know how to balance work and play. Clare is such a relaxed, liberal and friendly place that gives you the space and support for you to flourish as a young historian.