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Why being pooled is the best thing that’s happened to me at Cambridge

It really is – I promise


When receiving an offer from Cambridge, there are usually two reactions, joy or sadness – but there is in fact a secret third option, confusion.

This is exactly how I felt when opening my email inbox to check if I’d got an offer when I saw an email from Fitzwilliam College congratulating me on my offer to study History. The only problem was, I hadn’t applied to Fitzwilliam – I’d applied to Emmanuel!

After the initial confusion and shock of seeing the words “Offer from Fitzwilliam College”, the joy did begin to creep in, but was soon joined by a host of new anxieties – I knew absolutely nothing about the college and had never even visited it and was now expected to go there? I was vaguely aware of the pooling process but had never expected it to happen to me.

If this is you now, or was you in the past, don’t fear – I’ve been there done that and honestly it has been a blessing in disguise. As much as it is a cliche to say, I now think (and can 100 per cent confirm) that Fitz is the best college and I can’t imagine being anywhere else. So, to anyone else that has had this experience recently, these are my reassurances to you!

1. It’s not that deep

Not getting into your college of choice is really not the end of the world. Each college is different, yes, but they are all amazing in their own way, and you will be able to fit in and enjoy your experience at any college, even if isn’t your first choice.

2. It’s very difficult to glean much from an open day

Unless you know somebody close to you that goes to Cambridge or have some kind of special insider knowledge, it is very difficult to glean the full experience of a college from an open day. Chances are you’ve visited a bunch of colleges on the same day and they’ve all mushed together in your head, or not had the opportunity to visit properly at all (#covid). Don’t get me wrong, the impressions formed on open days are important, but it is only a brief visit for a few hours, meaning it’s impossible for anyone to get the full impression of all 31 Cambridge colleges in this time.

Matriculation at Fitz (Image credits: Emma Podd)

3. Hill College appreciation

When applying to Cambridge, I had my heart set on a dark academia aesthetic central college so I pretty much ignored the existence of any colleges (like Fitz) that didn’t fit this demographic. However, now I’m here I can appreciate how being at a hill college suits me so much better. No tourists and eternal peace in college (along with Aldi) are massive perks that I wouldn’t have at a central college.

The view from Fitz library (aka the best library in Cambridge)

4. You are not alone

Lots of people are pooled – nearly 20 per cent in 2023 according to the university’s application statistics, meaning you are guaranteed to meet others in the same position, even at your own college!

The view to Fitz buttery in the winter