HOW LARGE IS CATZ?
Catz is the biggest college in Oxford with around 500 undergrads. Despite the large number, we are such a close-knit community and it is so easy to meet people with the same interests as one another. Moreover, the JCR helps keep everyone connected and regular Entzes (college parties) and socialising events mean that you soon get to know your year group and the years above easily. Whilst we’re not physically as big as Magdalen, we are one of the bigger colleges in terms of size here in Oxford (how else would we house 500+ students?!)
IS CATZ CLOSE TO OTHER COLLEGES?
Unlike the central Oxfordian colleges, we’re a bit further out from the centre, but realistically anywhere in Oxford is only a short walk or cycle away. Being away from the centre is a plus, in my opinion, it’s far less rowdy and busy and we don’t have to worry about nosey tourists disrupting us. Substituting the convenience of being at the centre of Oxford is the serenity and peaceful beauty of the surrounding Cherwell river and nearby meadows; it’s enough separation to feel like you’ve got a home base to come back to that gives you a little break from the pressure that is Oxford.
WHAT MAKES CATZ UNIQUE?
Frankly speaking, a glance at Catz and it’s already not your typical Oxfordian college. The brutalist, Jacobsen-designed buildings are poles apart from the spires of Christ Church or cloisters of New College and reflect the uniqueness of our community and our motto ‘Nova Et Vetera’ (‘things both new and old’). The moat in the old quad is also a nice addition and is home to lots of friendly wildlife that roam the area. Apart from the friendly atmosphere and exceptional teaching, Catz is known for having the biggest Junior Common Room (JCR) and bar which is perfect for our college parties and other social events.
HOW IS THE FOOD?
We have some of the most inexpensive (and arguably the best) food at Catz. Our hall serves three to four meals every weekday during term time on a pay-as-you-go basis, and an amazing roast every Sunday which is very popular. A three-course meal at hall costs as little as £4, you can’t go wrong with that! Unlike other colleges, there’s no extravagance with hall being free of the obligatory gowns or Latin grace and is more of a chill affair with great food! As the college progresses, more dietary requirements are being provided for, with halal food being available and special events such as meat-free Mondays etc. However, if the food doesn’t tickle your fancy, you’re always welcome to cook for yourself with every staircase having a small kitchenette, supplied with a toaster, hob, fridge and microwave.
DOES CATZ HAVE ANY SPORTS FACILITIES, IF SO WHAT ARE THEY LIKE?
We’re actually quite known for being the ‘sporty’ college, and Catz is lucky to have our own college gym which is £3 membership for 3 whole years! This includes squash courts, all sorts of weights and lifting machines, treadmills and rowing machines. We also have a punt house opposite New Quad, and Catz grounds for things like rugby, tennis and football training. Our large student body correlates to a major advantage when to sport and we have differing levels of teams to accommodate for varying abilities so don’t fret if it’s your first time trying out a sport! Apart from physical facilities, the JCR offers a bunch of sport societies, ranging from yoga and Zumba to curling and juggling, so there’s always something for everyone!
HOW ARE THE STUDENT SOCIETIES AT CATZ?
The possibilities are endless at Catz when it comes to student societies. We offer a range of sports, from football to yoga, and many arts related activities such as life drawing or painting. To give you an example, one of our 1st year students has recently started a Crepe Society, and Catz often runs musicals/plays, this year it was ‘Rent’! The music and drama societies are our most popular societies and the music house and large site helps to accommodate this, with the annual Catz Arts week showcasing their hard work and talent.
WHAT WELFARE SUPPORT IS AVAILABLE?
St Catz has an intricate welfare network so there’s always someone to help you with any issues. Whilst the Dean oversees all welfare related concerns, there are a range of people that offer pastoral support such as the Junior Deans, postgraduate students that have been trained to offer advice on both academic and personal concerns and are on call 24/7 and the College Nurse and Councillor who offer a daily surgery on-site. The JCR also have the male, female and LGBTQ+ welfare representatives alongside peer supporters who have all been trained by University Counselling service to offer support in complete confidence. The JCR welfare team also provides a range of welfare products such as free sanitary products, contraception, pregnancy tests and more. We understand welfare is extremely important to all members at St Catz and recognise that it can be ignored in the intense environment that is Oxford, the welfare reps work especially hard to help students and run regular welfare events, ranging from meditation to welfare dog visits! Every Sunday, they host munch – an informal gathering (with free food :)) to give everyone a chance to break away from their schedules and relax with friends through the satisfaction of free food, good company and fun events, with prizes often up for grabs!
HOW ARE STUDENTS FROM LOW-INCOME BACKGROUNDS SUPPORTED?
The financial support at Catz and Oxford in general for low-income students is amazing. From the Oxford Bursary which offers annual financial support to help with the costs of studying and living in Oxford to the Crankstart scholarship (formerly Moritz-Heymann) which offers added exclusive access to funded internships and volunteering opportunities, there is so much on offer for low-income students. Being a part of the Crankstart scholarship (formerly Moritz-Heymann) has really allowed me to enjoy my experience at university without any financial worries. College-wise, Catz offers schemes to support students during financial hardships such as the ALF (Access to Learning Fund) and the Student Support Scheme for unexpected hardships. In terms of academic achievements, the college is very generous with rewards: prizes are received for top marks in first year exams and collections (termly mock exams) and they also offer book grants, scholarships, travel bursaries and other funds for unexpected financial difficulties.
WHAT IS THE WORK/LIFE BALANCE LIKE ?
It all depends on your subject and workload, as some have more contact hours than others etc. Being a languages student, I find that I have relatively less free time than some of my friends, but I always aim to get a lot of my work done during the day so that I can dedicate my evenings to the social side of things, like chilling with friends in the college bar or having a movie night. On the other hand, a sciences student would typically have a more constrained timetable filled with early morning lectures, labs, and prep for a lot of weekly tutorials organisation is key, and depending on how well you manage your workload, there is more than enough time to spend socialising and relaxing!
WERE THE INTERVIEWS REALLY DAUNTING?
Surprisingly, no. The build-up was undoubtedly very nerve-racking as I really had no idea what to expect, especially with all those strict Oxford misconceptions but once I started talking to the other interviewees at Catz it made me feel so much more at ease. Of course, preparation is important, however the best advice I can give is to relax, be yourself and enjoy the experience as much as possible. No doubt, every Oxford interviewee has experienced the pre-Oxford interview jitters, and whilst that might show at the start of the interview, it dissipates throughout when you’re presented with a problem and allowed to shine in your element. Oxford tutors are not there to pick up on your every mistake and when you’re more focused on the interview itself than their perception of you, it really does get easier to do. Authenticity and potential are something they can detect, so as long as genuinely passionate about your subject, don’t over plan or memorise interview answers beforehand and go in with an optimistic outlook, you’ll be fine, honestly.