Going to university can be quite daunting. At York there are over 20,000 students. That’s almost certainly a lot more than the number of students at your sixth form or college! Within the university there are eight different undergraduate colleges. Each student is assigned a college when they start at York. It isn’t quite determined by a magical sorting hat; but it is a similar structure to house systems in schools (or Hogwarts). Being part of a college means you become part of an on-campus community.
For most people, your college is determined by what type of accommodation you end up in during your first year. This means that you are living as part of a flat/house, but also as part of the college. In my first year I lived in Goodricke and I really enjoyed feeling part of that community. Whenever I go back to visit it always feels like I am returning home. However, this isn’t unique to Goodricke – all the colleges have their own community atmosphere.
What do you get out of it?
Being part of a college means you have access to the brilliant events put on by college staff and/or student committees. In the summer, a lot of colleges have ‘mini festivals’, with family-based activities in the day and a concert in the evening. They are always a lot of fun! Throughout the year there are other events including: trips to nearby tourist attractions, the winter formal, film nights, pumpkin carving and more. There are events every week that all the colleges put on that you can attend.
You will also have access to the college welfare team. They’re really helpful if you are not sure who to talk to about a problem, and signpost you if applicable. They’re also good for helping if your house or flat aren’t all getting on. Hopefully, you won’t need that support (and most don’t); but it’s nice to know it’s there if necessary.
Getting stuck in with college life
In my first and second year I was the Male Wellbeing Officer on the Goodricke JCRC (Junior Common Room Committee). The JCRC is a committee of students who run college events around the year and co-ordinate a large part of freshers’ week. This was a brilliant way for me to get involved with the college community. During Freshers’ Week, I was a Head STYC (Second-Third Year Contact) which involved having a hands-on role in looking after the welfare of first years on nights out. Part of my role was also running the on-campus non-drinking events during freshers’ week which was really fun. Drinking events do form a big part of freshers’ week, but they aren’t the only things happening.
Holding these roles was an awesome opportunity and even when I didn’t live in Goodricke I still felt part of the community. This is true for all the other colleges as well. Each of the colleges at York have their own unique characteristics, but each one has a strong sense of community.
Another aspect of college life is sport. College sport is generally more relaxed than uni level sport. It’s a good opportunity to take up a new sport or get involved with one you’ve been doing for years.
Overall, I am really glad that York has a college system. It gives you a real sense of identity among the student population since everyone has their own college. Through my college I have run events such as the LGBT+ Meet Up for first years in freshers’ week, and I feel that I’ve found a community I can really belong too.