Merton vs Brasenose

A couple of days ago I did a research of three famous private schools for boys in the UK. I was comparing their fees, facilities, opportunities they offer for students and many other things.

Today I will do a research of 2 Oxford colleges, because this topic is very important for me as I want to apply to the university of Oxford. I hope this research will help me to do the final choice of the right college. So, I will be looking at 2 most attractive to me colleges: Merton and Brasenose.

Merton College

Brasenose College:

1) History
Merton: Merton College, the first fully self-governing College in the University, was founded in 1264 by Walter de Merton, sometime Chancellor of England and later Bishop of Rochester. Mob Quadrangle, the oldest quadrangle in the University, was built in three phases: the Treasury c.1288-91, the north and east ranges and the Sacristy c.1304-11, and the Library on the south and west sides 1373-8.

Brasenose: The transformation of Brasenose Hall into Brasenose College was so smooth that it is difficult to give an exact date to the change. A quarry in Headington was leased to provide stone for the new buildings on 19 June 1509 and this is the year which Brasenose keeps as its foundation. <...> The founders of Brasenose College were Sir Richard Sutton, a lawyer, and William Smyth, Bishop of Lincoln.

2) Facilities
- two libaries (for the use of College members only—including the oldest continuously functioning library for university academics and students in the world!)
- free internet access + computer room with free printing and cheap photocopying
- Dining Hall with high-quality, low-cost food for students
- The Junior Common Room, where students can relax, watch movies, and play pool
- The College Bar, with a nice range of affordable beverages and regular quiz nights
- A TV Room with video and DVD equipment
- Access to a Games Room, complete with a free pool table, table football, darts and games machines
- The Fellows Garden, an idyllic place to read, work or relax
- Merton College Sports Ground, including sports pitches, pavilion, grass and hard tennis courts, squash courts and weight-training facilities
- Merton College Boathouse on the River Isis (Thames)
- Real Tennis Court in Merton Street which can be used by the college Real Tennis Club
- 4 pianos and 2 chapel organs available for students for practice
- Chapel services
- Welfare Officers from the student body as well the Chaplain, Welfare Dean and University support services
- College Nurse
- Venues which can be booked without charge by students for club or society events and performances or recitals

- The Brasenose sports ground is near the river, about ten minutes walk from the College. There are rugby, hockey and football pitches, netball and squash courts and in the summer, there is a beautiful cricket pitch and both grass and hard tennis courts. The clubhouse has a small bar for drinks and snacks, which can be put on a tab and settled at the start of the next term.
- The flourishing College Music Society arranges concerts both by students and visiting professionals. Students can practise in the music room and the Chapel. The College has an orchestra, choir, jazz band, rock band, a number of chamber groups and many fine musicians.
- A College drama club puts on plays in the College and the City.
- A College bar
- Open to members of all denominations, the Chapel is an important part of Brasenose College's community facilities
- Brasenose has three excellent libraries which members can access 24 hours a day. There are collections in all subject areas covered by the College. The Library holds approximately 50,000 titles and subscribes to around 75 periodicals. It is also just a short distance from the University's Bodleian Library and many of the faculty and departmental libraries.

3) Fees:
Uni of Oxford main fee (for overseas, social sciences and humanities): £11,205

College fee (only for overseas students): £5,212
Accomodation: £2,361 for a bed sitting room
Food: £7.21 (breakfast+lunch+dinner) a day

College fee: £5,212
Accomodation: not stated
Food: not stated

4) Extra. Pros and cons
The Good Bits
- Merton was founded in 1264, so we can boast about being 'arguably the oldest Oxford college'.
- Beautiful architecture and gardens (bonus: wireless internet is available in the Fellows' Garden).
- As one of the smaller colleges with around 90 undergraduates a year and 300 graduate students altogether, Merton has a very friendly atmosphere.
- Our JCR receives a lot of money from the college to pay for welfare, entertainment and whatever else we decide we want.
- A Nintendo Wii in the JCR.
- The food is amongst the best in the university, and very good value at £1.40 for breakfast, £2.55 for lunch and £3.20 for an evening meal (including formal hall). You only pay for the meals you go to, rather than a termly rate.
- Wonderful brunch on a Sunday.
- Merton can provide accommodation for every year of your degree, with very nice rooms and one of the lowest rents in the university.
- Excellent academic reputation. We receive very good teaching and have repeatedly come top of the Norrington table (which ranks Oxford colleges on their degree results) in the last few years.
- Located close to the centre of town but set back from the High Street, backing on to Christ Church Meadows. The location is both peaceful and convenient.
- Our fortnightly Bops (big fancy-dress parties) are held in the sports pavilion on Manor Road (near St. Catz), so they are bigger and go on much later than most colleges'.
- Our games room has free pool and free table football. Our bar is really cheap and Dave the barman is brilliant (and he provides excellent toasties).
From January 2009, the college will have a fully-equipped fitness room on the main college site.
- Crazy traditions like the Time Ceremony.
- It's one of the richer colleges, which means cheap rents that are the same for all rooms, book tokens and other achievement prizes are abundant, and you know you can fall back on them financially if something goes badly wrong with your life.
- The academic support is excellent if you are having difficulties with your work.

The Bad Bits
- The provision of kitchens isn't that good compared with other colleges. Most second year accommodation has kitchens, but most 1st year and 3rd year accommodation doesn't. There is a JCR kitchen in college, and you can usually get a kitchen in 2nd and 3rd year if you are willing to sacrifice other factors like location or room size.
- We are stereotyped as workaholics who never leave the library. Like most stereotypes, this is rubbish. We go out, party and get involved in societies as much as any other college. Our tutors do have high expectations though, and we get good results.
- We have some silly rules (mostly ignored but sometimes people are fined for them) about where you can walk on the grass, and not being allowed to gather in groups of more than ten people at a time.
- Being opposite exam schools. This is actually a pro if you are an arts student because your lectures are right next door, but in the summer term the after-exam celebrations are really noisy and messy, which is annoying if you still need to revise. (Mainly applies to first year scientists)
- The Warden - she's not that bad though!
- Pressure: some subjects are very pressured and this has a number of negative effects on students. Certain subjects are very trigger-happy when it comes to rustication on academic grounds.

The Good Bits
- Excellent location, possibly the best in Oxford being the only undergraduate college on Radcliffe Square (considered by many the world's prettiest square) as well as being on the High Street. Nothing in Oxford is more than about a 15 minute walk away. Frewin is situated next to Oxford Union just off Cornmarket street.
- Pretty, old "Castle-style" buildings (and no 'rubbish quad' like some colleges)
One of the richer colleges, so food is reasonably cheap and accommodation is quite nice.
- Cheap formal (£3.60 for a 3 course meal) and not overdone, only 3 times a week
- Small, cosy atmosphere, all freshers live very close to each other
- Accomodation 1st, 3rds and 4th years is guaranteed, and in past few years usually provided for all second years (a few people opt to live out each year) with 2nd/some 3rd years living in frewin annex which is nearby and even more central (next to the Union)
- Big JCR, with pool, arcade machines, vending machinge and Sky TV (including skysports)
- Not excessively academic, can be a bit more relaxed and enjoyable compared to some (not as many essays to do per week as some colleges e.g. merton)
- Very Cosy feel to it - Since everyone lives so close there is very much a community feel and everyone knows everyone in college
- No great sense of hierarchy and formality like in other colleges. You can wear pretty much anything under a gown in formal and even the Principal (former head of research at CERN) will try to get to know students (you can frequently spot him in the boathouse during races and down the bar)
- Good at sports, and has a long sporting tradition
- World's oldest boatclub (just so you can say you were a member of it) Also rapidly growing. This year there will be 4 novice crews at Ch Ch Regatta, last year it was just 2.
- 24/7 Library
-Big and cheap Bar (1.40 a pint)

The Bad Bits
- No kitchens in college so no ovens, only microwaves and fridges in 1st year
- The college does not provide "internal phones" as some colleges do - but if you have a mobile/skype then this is rarely an issue
- Not overly academic (but that means less pressure and its not rubbish, just average)
- Food is sometimes average (but mostly really good, never poor)
- High street rooms can be noisy.
- No toasters in your room (though scouts can be pretty lenient about this but it's easiest just to hide it).
- Not very active JCR, and people seem reasonably apathetic towards college politics
- Considering wealth of college accommodation could be cheaper
- No gym, though they provide membership to iffley road gym, (which is far better equipped than college gyms) and are in the process of refurbishing the current gym.
- Not much in terms of big gardens and lawns
- Small grounds compared to some colleges

Conclusions: I think all the information I need is in this post. As for me academic achivements are far more important than Sky TV in the common room, I think Merton would be much nicer for me. I also looked at online tour of Merton and I shall say that it's a very nice place to live and study in. Furthermore, JRR Tolkien was Mertonian and even worked there as the Professor of English in 1945.
Brasenose is still a good option, though.

Merton College
Brasenose College

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