When applying to the University of York, something that quickly stood out was the collegiate system in place here. York is unique in the sense that it is one of a handful of universities in the UK to have colleges.
At York, we have ten colleges for undergraduates (and an 11th just for postgraduates) spread across both Campus East and Campus West. Every student is placed into a college when they arrive in their first year and this is usually decided based on what accommodation you are part of. However, don’t worry, even if you decide to live off-campus or commute in your first year you will still be assigned a college; allowing you a sense of community and support for however long you are here studying at York.
A sense of belonging
I belong to Constantine College, and this is the accommodation I stayed in during my first year here. By being part of a college, you are part of a smaller community within the university. This is something that is really reassuring when moving away from home to a brand-new city for the first time.
When I first moved to university, it was such a surreal experience when I realised I was suddenly now completely independent! But, college life gives you a sense of belonging. I feel like this is really valuable in those first few days/weeks of Freshers’ as you start to adjust to university living. Moving away from home to a university as big as York can be really overwhelming for a lot of people, so by being put into a college within the university and instantly feeling part of a community. You are ready to face whatever your first few weeks of uni has in store for you!!
Colleges are always your first point for support and guidance, they’re somewhere to make friends, foster a sense of belonging and try out new things! Also, don’t forget it is the perfect conversation starter when meeting new fellow students out and about!! If I had a pound for every time I started a conversation with “What college are you in?!” when I meet somebody new at uni, then I would be rich!! 😉
The college system here offers a lot to students. Not only, like I mentioned, does it instantly give every new student a sense of belonging and community, it also allows for loads of activities as both a college and as a whole university.
During your Freshers’ Week, your college will have planned an entire week of activities for you to do. These range from college club nights in the town to chill movie nights in your college common room. This means that you will never feel lonely during your Freshers’ Week as there are always events going on within your college! These activities continue throughout the entire year with regular club nights, pub quizzes, movie nights, winter/summer formals (which are a great time to dress up fancy at the end of term!!).
If you are a fan of sports, the best thing to do is join your college’s sports team. This will again give you a new community to be part of as well as the chance to play against the other college’s sports teams. These are all great opportunities to meet new people in both your college and other colleges.
Support and guidance
You also will find a wide range of support readily available from both fellow older students such as your STYM (second/third year mentor) who provide all new students with a peer supporter throughout their first year. As well as the college staff team who are always on hand to help you with any issues whether that be homesickness to issues you are having with your course to even just feeling a bit down!
An instant community
Being a part of a college at university has been a real highlight for me throughout my university experience and I am glad that York does this. I have never felt like I do not belong at university, and I have always felt a part of Constantine College, even after my first year.
You will never escape the friendly banter between the different colleges as everyone always boasts they are from the best college! There is a real sense of pride in being part of a college and I am thankful for the sense of community I instantly got when I first moved to York.
My top tip
When you first find out which college you have been assigned to, make sure you follow them on social media so you can keep up to date with all the activities and news going on! My biggest tip would be to simply say YES to lots of things and push yourself outside your comfort goal.
This applies to most things at university, not just within your college. But you never know; by saying YES to things you aren’t initially sure about you might just have the best time of your life and meet some amazing people and discover a new interest!! University is all about taking risks and trying new things and the college system here is a great way to get involved in these!