Your degree isn’t harder than mine

We need to stop comparing each other at Cambridge

Cambridge cambridge students Cambridge University College Eton Freshers private school St Paul's Student Students Tab Theatre

If I got a pound for every time someone at Cambridge told me English was ‘easy’, I’d have £27 more in my bank account.

Wake up and smell the weak, overpriced UL coffee everyone. Certain subjects might have more difficult theories. Others might have a larger volume of work. But every subject at Cambridge is hard in its own, unique way.

There’s no need for the Grudgebridge (I know, again…) feud between humanities and science subjects. I couldn’t talk about the nitrogen cycle in the same way that my Natsci friend couldn’t write write an essay about gender in medieval literature (according to my supervisor I can’t really either…); my MML friends couldn’t amputate someone’s leg; my Engineer friends couldn’t speak Russian or Arabic, and my Maths friend couldn’t Land Ec (I’m sorry I’m not quite sure what they do).

This equation makes me quad(er)ratic

We’re studying here because we’re all good at our subject. Our passions, and therefore our strengths and weaknesses, are all diverse. You might have hours of labs, I have to sift through a plethora of books. You get given notes, I have to make all of mine. It’s all the same work, just in different forms. It’s pointless classifying subjects into a hierarchy because it’s never going to change anything.

What’s sad is that this attitude of pitting students against each other isn’t just confined to one subject. It prevails throughout all aspects of the university. The ‘BNOC’ culture elevates certain people over others because they do theatre, sport, journalism or the Union. Yes, extracurricular activities are great for providing a focus outside of academia, but they are by no means essential. Someone who doesn’t partake in them shouldn’t be made to feel inferior to someone who does.

It’s also the case with colleges. We associate certain ones with being harder to get into, and therefore assume that students studying there are cleverer than elsewhere. This is simply not the case. In fact, the admissions statistics for 2016 show that if you applied to John’s you had a 23% chance of acceptance. Girton was also 23%. Murray Edwards, on the other hand, was 14%. Yes, this is because a large proportion of students there are pooled, but those who were still had to get the grades to get in.

This shouldn’t be the prevailing view

And what about your background? Girls who went to St Paul’s or boys who went to Eton have every right to study here as someone who went to their local state comp. Undeniably, they benefited from smaller classes and better funding for resources. But, still, they didn’t get a ‘free pass’ in. This shouldn’t invalidate the achievement of passing the interviews and getting in here.

It’s time to stop seeing everything as a competition. It’s time to stop pitting students against each other based on their subject, college or background and respect them for their own individual achievements.

We all worked equally as hard to get into Cambridge, and therefore we all deserve to be here as much.