Life at St Catharine's
St Catharine’s students come to us because they want to be immersed in a unique world of intellectual vibrancy, liberal enquiry and real-world success.
We believe the best way for students to be happy and successful at St Catharine's ('Catz') is for them to enter into the community of the College and enjoy it to the full. You can find more information about accommodation and facilities on their dedicated pages; below, you'll find some thoughts on achieving a good work-life balance at Catz.
Our overriding aim is to recruit and support the students with the greatest academic potential, and the admissions process is designed to achieve just this. All the paperwork and interviews exist to identify the candidates who we think will perform best academically in the future, whatever their background. When students come to St Catharine’s, we expect them to work hard. Cambridge is the world’s premier university and academic standards are high here. Because of this, hard work is the only way to fully benefit from the Cambridge experience, and also to justify why Cambridge degrees are so highly thought of.
Here at St Catharine's we are dedicated to helping our students achieve as highly as possible. We invest actively in an infrastructure of teachers, academic mentors, pastoral support and academic facilities which we believe are the best in the world. If you come to Catz, you will find out why the College and the University are so highly respected.
The academic opportunities available at Cambridge are endless, whether it is joining the University Astronomy Society, taking a (Catz-subsidised) course at the Language Centre, or participating in one of our exchange opportunities - Catz students are eligible to apply for academic exchange programmes at Caltech, Heidelberg, Kyoto and MIT, for example.
There is also a great deal of support avialable when our students start to think about life after St Catharine's - all are eligible for life-long support from the University's excellent careers service, and the College's alumni also run our own advice and mentoring network.
It's also important for students to have a life outside of their work. To fully appreciate Catz, we encourage students to develop a sensible ‘work-life’ balance and take advantage of the enormous range of extracurricular activities on offer.
The ‘student unions’ at the College are called the Junior and Middle Combination Rooms (JCR and MCR for undergraduates and graduates, respectively). All undergraduate and graduate students are automatically enrolled, and thus can be involved in improving the student-run facilities, as well as cooperating with the college staff and fellows in improving the student experience.
As a student, you will be eligible to join any of the societies of the College or the University. Some, but by no means all, of these have a presence on the college or University website. Whatever your chosen sporting, musical, cultural, intellectual or just-plain-silly pursuit, you will find it here. Within the College, St Catharine's own societies including the Shirley (Literature and Arts), the John Ray (Sciences) and the Music Societies, and other societies cater for a wide variety of interests and activities.
St Catharine's students all have access to a wide range of sports facilities - including our extensive playing fields at Grantchester Meadows, our all-weather hockey pitch, squash and badminton courts, a gym at our central site, and a boathouse on the river. Plus, all are members of the College's ‘Amalgamated Clubs’ which means they can indulge in rowing, cricket, rugby, football, hockey, tennis, squash, badminton, athletics, swimming and other sports. One of the best things about sport in a collegiate university is that it caters to those of all abilities - from 'just-for-enjoyment' to 'elite'. One recent Catz student is a multiple Olympic medal winner.
Catz is also extremely active in music, with many opportunities to continue your previous musical passions, or embark upon new ones - click here for more information.
From your first day...
From the start of your time here, our aim is to welcome you into the St Catharine’s community. For example, before our students arrive they receive two detailed guides about life and work at Cambridge – one from the College and one compiled by its current students.
Most first years arrive at St Catharine’s on the same day – a Saturday in late September or early October – and our student freshers’ representatives organise various friendly, fun ways to introduce new arrivals to student life here. On that first day there will be informal activities to ensure new students meet others on their staircase or corridor, as well as an informal event at which the tutors meet all 135-or-so incoming first years over snacks.
Social events continue the following day, and on the first Monday new students meet with their pastoral tutor again, and also meet their academic director of studies to discuss course structure and options, supervisions and general academic support. There is a communal dinner that same day, as well as the start of a variety of induction events relating to academic matters, health and welfare, and clubs and societies. University lectures and other teaching sessions begin on the Thursday.
Importantly, all students are allocated two St Catharine’s second-year mentors before they arrive in Cambridge. These mentors (or ‘college mothers and fathers’ as they are informally called!) make a point of meeting their respective first years soon after they arrive, and are an invaluable source of support and advice throughout students’ first years. At least one of your college mentors will be studying the same subject as you, or a closely related one.
...if that isn't enough, click here to learn about the most important person in St Catharine's...