Oxbridge vs Imperial…take two!

At Imperial, almost everyone you meet has tangled with Oxbridge at some point. The students are Oxbridge rejects, the faculty is largely composed of Oxbridge old boys/girls, and the hall subwardens are imported directly with their shiny Oxbridge diplomas clenched in clever hands for some good old Imperial postgraduate work.

Oxbridge is the elephant in the Imperial room. Almost to a one, we were crushed by our rejections, and some of us felt we were “settling” for Imperial. So when I claim now that, were I to again have the choice before me, I would choose Imperial over Cambridge, it might sound slightly insincere and revisionist to the discerning ear–but I promise I’m telling the truth! Here’s why:

1) The reputation: Okay, so Oxbridge are collectively known as the best uni’s in the world, and to be frank, that speaks for itself. I’m not going to say that Imperial is better than either one, though others have made the case (boopboopOxford). What I can say, however, is that Imperial is basically as good, that the extra microdetails and minutiae will make next to no difference to your educational experience. Rankings matter far less than you might think–and I realize this might be “easy” for me to say, comfortably typing this on my Shiny Imperial Blog, on Superfast Imperial Internet, in my Luxurious Hall in the heart of the Regal Imperial Campus, but if you’re reading this with an offer from Imperial, rest assured you’ll come to understand my point wherever you end up. In the end, uni is about you, not the faculty; your intelligence is the limiting reactant, not the infinite resources you’ll receive here (or anywhere else world-class).

2) The location: Okay, so rankings don’t matter. Location matters a bloody hell of a lot more, though neither Oxbridge nor Imperial are anywhere near comparable. It’s more about how YOU feel in regard to either one. Oxbridge are both in small cities, Cambridge slightly more so than Oxford, while London is in one of the biggest metropoli in the Western World. I’d like to say world, but it’s only 29th by population. The fact remains, however, that London is one of the most exciting possible places to go to Uni. From Imperial, you’re on the doorstep of almost everything of import in the world. The city is loud, vibrant, massive, and teeming with people, sights, and experiences. The Imperial social calendar is the London social calendar; again, only your stamina is the limiting reactant. Oxbridge, on the other hand, are small cities with even smaller, ancient centres. Beautiful, beautiful places, steeped in hundreds of years of history and pedagogical tradition, in their own way every bit as exciting as the high streets of London. You will live, for at least a couple of years, in an absolutely beautiful and ancient fortress, growing ever closer with your fellow geniuses and college-mates. Which will you choose? Think wisely. I was blinded and lured in by Cambridge’s rating, which as I mentioned is a massively superficial approach; I can now see I’m much happier here in London than I could probably ever have been at Cambridge. South Kensington, the most expensive postcode in England, is nothing to sneeze at, and the nightlife here, which, may I remind you, is still half your degree time-wise, is absolutely brilliant. I think Cambridge has one dingy club. Do we have secluded private gardens with wandering punters straight from a Romantic’s painting? Nah. Your move, offer-holder. Close proximity to Buckingham Palace, Harrods, Hyde Park, London’s three biggest museums, dozens of embassies, and Essentials? Imperial. Cobbles? Cambridge.

3) Let’s be honest, Saturdays off are really nice. Natural Scientist at Cambridge? Your alarm is set six days a week. Anything-ist at Imperial? Your weekend starts at 6 on Friday. Boom.

There’s a ton more to be said, but I think you get the idea. Make sure you visit, if you’re torn, and consider the long-term implications of your course. And remember, you can probably make the most of wherever you end up going, and, even better, there’s no wrong decision possible!

(Except UCL)

7 comments for “Oxbridge vs Imperial…take two!

  1. rezjona says:

    hello jelle
    i want to know in which time i can apply in imperial college?? where is the last date when the application finish?? please answered me 🙂

    1. Jelle van der Hilst says:

      The normal application deadline (for entry in the following academic year, or the next fall entry) is the UCAS standard of January 15th. I think you can apply after it for at least nominal consideration, though I wouldn’t be surprised if a top uni like Imperial would ignore applications sent after this date. For more information, feel free to check out http://www.ucas.com/how-it-all-works/undergraduate. Good luck!

  2. Yaiza Andrés says:

    Why would UCL be a bad decision to make over Imperial?

    1. Jelle van der Hilst says:

      I’m afraid that’s just the Imperial-UCL rivalry rearing its beautiful head on my part… both are fantastic unis and roughly equal in academic merit and support. I’m sure I’d be just as happy and well-educated at UCL. Consider the location (South Ken vs. Bloomsbury) and the other courses offered (Science, Medicine, and Engineering ONLY at Imperial vs. a much broader general offering [humanities, arts, sciences, etc] at UCL). Can’t go wrong, really 😉

  3. Thomas Munro says:

    The thing is, people do get rejected from Oxbridge and have also chosen Imperial but how many of them want Imperial anyway? I applied to Oxford for biological sciences because people said it was a good idea for me. I also applied to imperial and ever since I have looked at the course and the campus and been there for open days I have loved Imperial and it has always been my top choice. Imperial is perfect for me and I have always known I would be happier at Imperial than Oxford and I have always said if I got an offer from Imperial and Oxford I would choose Imperial cause I personally think it is better (and the QS world rankings agree with me 😛 ). In the end I did get rejected from Oxford without interview but to be honest I was happy with that. It meant I could happily firm Imperial without anyone trying to convince me to choose Oxford. Basically you can be an Oxbridge reject but still have had Imperial as your top choice because Imperial is an amazing university.

  4. Kilian says:

    Very interesting article! Thank you
    I just had a few questions: don’t you feel the lack of supervisions at imperial makes a huge difference? Furthermore the fact that there are no colleges and only departments means less diversity (subject wise) around you and less of a ‘family’ feeling as there is at Cambridge right?
    Finally my main worry is that being in London there may be so many more interesting things, but won’t this just distract you from your studies? Whereas being in a small city like Cambridge could be more motivational to work even harder?
    What would you say about this from your experience?
    Thank you

  5. Thomas Kwok Wing says:

    You make me laugh mate. You a funny guy! In Hong Kong, we call your types the ‘Chau Chees’ … and then we bid you well on your way, Bye!

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