One of the most fascinating aspects of the University of Oxford is the “collegiate system.” In addition to being enrolled at Oxford, each student is a member of one of the thirty-eight colleges. Each college is an autonomous, self-governing unit within the university, and all teaching staff and students must belong to one of the colleges. Each college has its own governing body, comprised of the Head of House and a number of Fellows, most of whom also hold University posts. During the application process, after I was accepted to the University of Oxford, I then had to wait and see if I was accepted to a college.
This is completely different than the U.S. system of higher education, and I think it will add an interesting element to my time here. Although classes have not started yet, it seems as if colleges are a sort of hybrid between a dorm and a fraternity. Leah gets mad at me every time I make this comparison, but…Harry Potter went to Hogwarts and his “college” was Gryffindor.
While my class lectures and exams will be through the University (via the law school and the business school), my college will provide “small group” tutorials which are the main method of teaching at Oxford. I am excited about this because Oxford as whole is an imposing place for an old, foreign student like me. Hopefully my college will allow me to find my place in a smaller community and allow me to meet students from other programs at Oxford.
I have also noticed that each of the colleges seem to have a unique character. Some of the colleges are very prestigious and can trace their roots back to the thirteenth century. I imagine that an alumni network is associated with each college, also. In fact, some of the largest colleges (like Christ Church) are the most frequented tourist sites in the town of Oxford (but some are completely closed to visitors and those that are open, charge admission fees). Most colleges are comprised of a dining hall, a chapel, a library, common rooms, and lodging for students and faculty. Some of the larger ones have amazing amenities such as magnificent cathedrals and a deer park (Magdalen). The deer park should be good times when my buddies from East Texas come visit!
I am a member of Kellogg College and it is the newest college at Oxford. It focuses on “lifelong learning” and has about 150 full-time and 400 part-time students. It is named after Will Keith Kellogg of Corn Flakes fame. Colleges do not have mascots so far as I know (although we do have a crest and colored scarves). However, Leah (a Kress Kangaroo herself) has dubbed us the Kellogg Kangaroos.
|The newest Fightin' Kangaroo|
|The view from the bell tower of the University Church of St. Mary into one of the college grounds|