Quite a few prospective MBA have asked me about choosing Oxford colleges in the past week. I know this comes a little late as R2 deadlines are only a couple of days away but considering that college choices can be changed later after admission, this write-up might still be helpful. Please note that this is strictly from the perspective of an MBA student at Said Business School, if you somehow end up here as a prospective undergrad etc, please ignore!
I’m gonna do this as bullet points – it’s easier that way. So here goes…
- College choices that you fill in the form are not final and binding. If you get an admit from Said Business School, you’ll be asked to confirm them at which point you can change them.
- After you receive an admit from Said Business School and have confirmed your college choices, your applications will be forwarded to your first choice college. This college will review your application and may refuse to admit you (criteria for refusal are and will remain unknown). If it does, your application will go to your second choice college and so on. Almost everyone gets accepted by either of the two.
- Some colleges have very few seats reserved for MBA students and the most sought ones usually fill up quickly. For example, Christ Church pretty much filled up with R1 students last year. Green Templeton on the other hand has many seats from MBA students.
- Oxford colleges move on their own schedules and may take months to decide on your application. The MBA class of 2009 would unanimously agree that college selection is the most irritating and trying part of the whole process. I’m not trying to dissuade you and obviously, no one decides not to apply to Said Business School because the college selection takes ages. But yeah, it’s better to be prepared to wait for quite a while when the time comes.
- Most colleges guarantee accommodation for first year undergrads only. That being said, many colleges do end up providing accommodation to MBAs. This accommodation may be on-site (within the college campus) or off-site. On-site accommodation gives you the experience of living in a 15th century building (with 21st century amenities). Off-site accommodation is often cool as well as though the college may be very far from the b-school, the accommodation is sometimes quite near. If your college doesn’t provide you accommodation, you can try University housing (the waitlist is pretty long so get on it early!) or private leasing.
- If you do get an admit, you’ll get access to the Said Business School intranet which would tell you the kind of accommodation a college may provide. I know people from Wadham, Brasenose, Pembroke, Christ Church, Exeter, Keble, Green Templeton etc. who received college accommodation and are quite happy with it. This is not an exhaustive list. And it would be very difficult for me to put out a list of whether their accommodation is en-suite or not coz well, I haven’t yet gone around asking people where their bathroom is!
- My opinion is that accommodation should not be the be-all-end-all of an MBA student’s college choices. Through private leasing etc. accommodation usually works out. For example, I’m at Christ Church, I didn’t get college accommodation but I was able to lease a house that’s a 5 minute walk from the b-school building. The Oxford experience is a lot about what you do out of school and it’s the college that helps here. So you should choose a college that you’d be proud of, you’re gonna be an alumni for life. Maybe it has alumni that you consider your heroes, maybe it has great sports facilities, maybe it’s got famous movies shot in its premises, maybe it has a movie theater, maybe it’s just got a bloody beautiful building etc.
- I do see that it would be helpful to have a college vs type of accommodation provided spreadsheet. After I finish typing this, I’m going to type out a mail to our Student Advisory Board and suggest that we build a repository of this information.
- Some tidbits about the pros and cons of Oxford colleges are here. Note that these are undergrad centric but you may find some useful nuggets in there.
Addendum: Great post by Justin on Oxford colleges here.