Dan is studying Engineering and came to Selwyn from Boston Spa School

My name is Daniel and I’m originally from West Yorkshire. Selwyn is a fantastic place to live and study. I’ve always had excellent supervisors and my director of studies and tutor have been great sources of advice and motivation. Living in such a close community it’s easy to work hard and still have a great time: I’ve played various sports (whilst excelling at none…), been involved in the JCR committee, and met loads of great people along the way.

Image 662

Ian is studying Music and came to Selwyn from Henley (Sixth Form) College

Selwyn students spend their free time doing all kinds of different things, and I’ve got involved with the busy musical life here. Selwyn has a thriving student-run music society which puts on a weekly concert during term, featuring current students, ensembles as well as previous students. As organ scholar, I am involved with music in Chapel and maintaining the strong choral tradition here. The chapel choir sings three evening services a week, as well as several special services each term. The college orchestra is formed for a termly concert, and it’s fantastic to get together a good ensemble with players from Selwyn as well as other colleges. If classical music isn’t your thing, there are groups such as Selwyn Jazz, or the prospect of forming your own band and playing at the Snowball or other events. Although I am reading music, there are lots of opportunities for players of every ability and background, and I love the atmosphere in Selwyn that means anyone can be involved, regardless of what they are reading. There’s so much going on, even without studying for a degree!

Image 693

Sarah came to Selwyn from Holy Rood High School, Edinburgh, and read Natural Sciences.

Starting at Selwyn, I had no idea what to expect, but I think everybody can say that about going to university.  Swapping a Scottish state school of the 'inner-city' persuasion for the serene, studious courts of Cambridge was a change I intially struggled with.  At school, I had always found the work easy and rarely struggled to answer a question; at Cambridge, I couldn't answer any of them.  Physics, in particular, caused me weeks of distress.  In fact, if Selwyn had only been about studying, I would have given up after my first term and considered myself to have had a lucky escape.  Thankfully, Selwyn offers a lot more.  For the first time, I was surrounded by people I liked; within a week of moving in I had made great friends that I still talk to every day (Selwyn is one of the few colleges that houses all the new students together, so you can't help but make friends).  I'd had no sporting experience, but took up kayaking, cycling and rowing, and despite concentrating more on having fun than being any good I had the opportunity to race against other colleges.

When I couldn't answer a question, there was always someone around to offer me help, whether it was another student on the same course, the very dedicated teaching staff or, most usefully, the distraction of a good night out.  It's the perfectly placed college, within easy reach of the lecture halls, departments and the town centre, but a five minute walk takes you into the countryside.

Most of all, it's very easy to feel at home in Selwyn. It's definitely one of the friendliest colleges in Cambridge, and although it's not one of the tourist haunts, very pretty.  In fact, I love Selwyn so much I've stayed on for a PhD.

Image 776

Aoife came to Selwyn from Aquinas Diocesan Grammar School, Belfast, and is reading Law.

Applying to Cambridge can be an incredibly daunting process. However once you actually jump through the hoops of the application process it becomes obvious that the interview system really is the fairest way of admitting people, and not the tricksy process it is made out to be.

Actually arriving at Cambridge is largely the same story, the horror stories about the work/life balance at Cambridge are not true. In my first year as a Lawyer and a Choral Scholar, I have been on a two week tour of Canada, participated in the Cambridge 6th Form Law Conference, organised a few Law Society Socials and cram in being elected to a JCR position too! Your social life can be as extensive as you want to be, it’s just about finding the balance that works for you, no matter what that might be. Cambridge is what you make it, you just happen to have every opportunity to make it amazing.

Image 721


Fran came to Selwyn from Sutton High School and is reading Medicine.

If there was ever was ever a way to dispel many of the false Cambridge stereotypes, it would definitely be coming to Selwyn College. It really celebrates individuality; no-one feels the pressure to conform and you will have the opportunity to make friends with people from all walks of life. As such, Selwyn is renowned for being one of the friendliest college in Cambridge and I felt very welcome here only a short time after arriving. Best of all, Selwyn truly embodies real college spirit; there is such a keen sense of community here and I enjoy great relationships with the Fellows, staff and other students.

I feel privileged to receive such exceptional teaching at Selwyn; my supervisors have an incredible energy and enthusiasm that has always left me feeling inspired and determined to learn more. At Selwyn we definitely work hard and play hard. Selwynites are definitely as sociable as they are studious and they always make time to participate in an incredible variety of college societies from sports to music to the arts.

In an environment that is as academically demanding as Cambridge, you may find (as I have) that you face academic or personal difficulties. Attimes like this I have been extremely lucky to feel the unwavering support and encouragement of the staff and my friends here. For me Selwyn College has been the best possible stepping stone to my career; my time here has given me confidence in my own abilities, the courage pursue new and exciting opportunities and last but not least lifelong friendships. It  is without a doubt the place to be for individuals who want to both enjoy life and excel.

Image 733

Chris came to Selwyn from Southend High School for Boys and is reading Natural Sciences.

Selwyn's location is ideal – not so far from town that it's inconvenient, but far enough away that you don't get lots of tourists around, which makes it very peaceful. Everyone here's very friendly, so you get to know everyone really quickly, especially since all the first-years live in the same place. I was surprised by how large my room was, and the new common room's very nice. All the accommodation's on-site, and you can walk on and use most of the grass, unlike at some other colleges. It's a very pretty College, and it's really great that you can relax in the gardens and eat there when the weather's nice. The pastoral support is very good – my Tutor was always there for me when I needed to discuss any personal problems I had.

Try to enjoy your interviews – they're difficult but rewarding, just like the work here. They're not designed to trip you up in any way, but just to make you think and stretch you a bit beyond what you already know. They're basically just a discussion about what you're interested in with people who want to listen towhat you have to say and see how you think – remember, there's often no single right or wrong answer, so don't be afraid to say anything and show what you know!

Image 767


Bryony came to Selwyn from Burntwood School, Wandsworth, and is reading Natural Sciences.

Selwyn is a very friendly place to live and study and I've really enjoyed the three years I've spent here thus far. It's quite small so there's a strong sense of community which makes it feel like home pretty quickly, and the support available from the academics, college staff and other students is invaluable. We're close enough to the centre of town that shopping and going for a night out are convenient, but far enough away that we never get tourists so you can wander round college in your slippers without fear of being caught on camera.


Andrew came to Selwyn from The Nelson Thomlinson School, Wigton (Cumbria), and is reading History.

When I entered the VIth Form the prospect of applying to Oxbridge was not at the forefront of my mind. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that two years down the line I would be taking up my place at Selwyn to study History. When I entered Upper VIth I was encouraged to think about applying, I had been asked about the prospect the previous year but remained unsure and nervous about the thought of applying. However, as a result of the determination and encouragement of many fantastic teachers I was encouraged to apply, and with their help, support and unrelenting confidence in my abilities I went to Selwyn for interviews in December 2007.

I remember walking away from my interview at Selwyn, feeling happy and strangely at ease. I felt a sense of pure enjoyment and gratitude. I was just overjoyed that I had got this far, and had been able to come to Cambridge and share my thoughts and opinions with members of a world leading academic community. After an agonising wait over the Christmas holiday my acceptance letter arrived early in the New Year, and was met with sheer amazement and shock. With results in August 2008 the dream had become a reality, something that I had never thought possible.

Selwyn is foremost a friendly academic environment, where each individual is encouraged and supported in their desire to try their very best. The support network which exists in Cambridge ensures that the welfare and success of each individual student is carefully monitored and encouraged. Through Director of Studies and Tutors, who provide academic and pastoral care ensure that the concerns and worries of students are addressed and dealt with. They provide a listening ear, and through their support help to create a genuinely caring academic environment which attempts to help and encourage each individual student.

My own personal time at Selwyn, thus far has been testing, often tiring but ultimately enjoyable and immensely rewarding. The collegiate system is dedicated to ensuring that all students are valued and are able to succeed in their chosen paths. My academic life as a historian is one of great privilege. Each week I am able after researching and reading around a certain topic to sit down with my work and debate the key and core issues of the subject with a subject matter expert. Through the unique and intensive supervisions, students are both criticised and commended on their work and through the help of their supervisor are challenged to explore new ideas and new ground in order that they may grow in maturity within their chosen subject. Historians are often placed in a one-on-one environment, and encouraged to discuss and debate central historical themes and issues. This method of teaching is one that I have personally relished, and while daunting at first provides the distinctive opportunity to study with world renowned historians and develop both personally and academically. It was my privilege to be elected Selwyn’s JCR President, a role which I took full and active interest in. The prospect of leading a committee of my peers was at first intimidating, but one that I soon fully appreciated. Undoubtedly, this has enabled me to feel more confident in my own abilities, an asset that I will carry with me far into the future. It has also enabled me to gain a greater insight into College life, through sitting on College Council and Governing Body, the opportunity to sit down with the Fellows of the College and vote and debate key issues is one that I relish and thoroughly enjoy.

Overall, the Cambridge and indeed Selwyn experience is one unique and very special. The opportunity to study and live in a world leading academic environment within the beautiful setting of Selwyn, in a genuinely caring and encouraging community of Fellows and students is distinctive. Although testing and challenging at times, the encouragement and support received from College combined with the range of opportunities available guarantees an immensely fun and fruitful university experience.

Defne came to Selwyn from Bilkent University Preparatory School, Ankara (Turkey), read Natural Sciences and is now studying for the Graduate Course in Medicine.

Choosing the right college is central to making the most of the three years of undergraduate life in Cambridge. After all you spend most of your time, both recreational and study time, within the courts of your future college. For me, Selwyn College was the right choice for several reasons: its location, new facilities, and particularly its supportive and academically motivating environment. Location-wise, Selwyn is slightly out of the centre of town. For me this was perfect as all my lectures were in town and getting back to my room at the end of the day helped me separate my studies from my free time. Selwyn is also situated in a quiet and green part of Cambridge, where I could easily go for walks to clear my mind. Returning to one of the most picturesque courts in Cambridge, listening to the fantastic Selwyn Choir or reading in the beautiful gardens definitely helped me relax too!

Throughout my three years, Selwyn offered us more and more new facilities. In my second year Ann's Court opened, with fantastic en-suite accommodation, which I still miss living in. In my third year we got a new JCR common room, with a TV, game consoles and pool table, which we most definitely visited for the weekly Dr. Who!

Selwyn also has a small and friendly library that offered constant support especially during exam term. Selwyn has a great reputation for its formal dinners as it faithfully continues the Cambridge traditions.

I am mostly grateful to Selwyn because of the people in it: both my friends and academic staff. Selwyn is like a small, friendly community; you get to know, be supported and be friends with the majority of the college. I also got endless encouragement from my Director of Studies and tutors. In Selwyn the academic staff make an effort to get to know you well, listen and help you and for this reason I had a pretty good idea how well I was doing throughout the years. Additionally, it welcomes new ideas brought by students. For example, a friend and I were easily given funds to open up a basketball team, which we thought would be impossible to achieve. Thus, for me, Selwyn was a welcoming college with a fantastic support network. Without it, I do not think I would have enjoyed my three years in Cambridge as much!