Every day I thank the pool fairies for bringing me to NewnhamStephanie Stacey

Plenty of Cambridge students are pooled. You’ll stay afloat.

The inter-college pool system is an interesting quirk of the Cambridge admissions system. It aims to ensure that no applicant is disadvantaged by college choice and serves to bridge the gap between the more famous and oversubscribed colleges and the lesser known, but still equally worthwhile, others.

Honestly, you probably don’t want to befriend someone who thinks genuine intellect is reserved exclusively to Trinity

Although I was thrilled to be offered a Cambridge place, being pooled to Newnham filled me with more than a little trepidation.

I remember worrying that other students, on hearing that I was attending a less famous college, would think less of me, but I can assure you that this has rarely been the case. And honestly, you probably don’t want to befriend someone who thinks genuine intellect is reserved exclusively to Trinity.

It’s true that for the majority of people, especially at the beginning, your college plays a big role in your social life, but that’s not to say by any means that you can’t make friends elsewhere. Through lectures, societies and even just random meetings around town, you can easily end up with pals scattered all across Cambridge.

Remember, above all else, that you are completely entitled to be here

Attracted to the glamourous central buildings? You’re welcome to wander through the glistening walls of King’s, with or without college membership.

And, contrary to popular belief, most students at Newnham and Murray Edwards have in fact met a man.

Being pooled doesn’t mean you deserve your Cambridge place any less

Cambridge interviews are unpredictable. A half-hour discussion is unlikely to directly correlate with your academic performance even over the course of an entire degree, and your work style will probably suit different academics in different ways.

The people at your new college chose you specifically

Slipped a grade and got summer pooled? The people at your new college chose you specifically – it’s hard at first, but know that they believe in you, and so should you. Although in times of deadline crisis it can seem otherwise, your college do genuinely want you to do well, and they know you can.

Remember, above all else, that you are completely entitled to be here.

Cambridge has a reputation for being exclusive, sure, but you have a right to walk its narrow and beautiful old streets and cram into its outdated and slightly uncomfortable lecture halls.

After all, there isn’t really an exact science to choosing students. Being pooled simply means you were handpicked by a different college, not that you’re a second choice.

You’ll probably like your college anyway

Almost everyone you meet is a fan of their own college, sometimes even to an almost annoying extent.

While college disparities and differences certainly do exist, they do all aim to offer their students similar opportunities and experiences. Each college has its own charms and endearing quirks, and there’s something loveable pretty much everywhere.


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College stereotypes definitely exist too, but with hundreds of students all from different backgrounds, studying different subjects, it’s impossible to imagine every single person in any given college fulfilling these.

A friend of mine mentioned that while Churchill’s architecture has not grown on her over the past year, it does have “an endless amount of banter that no central college can offer”.

Another friend remarked, “Maybe if I hadn’t been pooled from King’s I would’ve been a much edgier person. Weird to think.”

Don’t listen to other people: Whichever college you end up at, it’s still ‘real Cambridge’.

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