How to become a BCOC: Big College on Campus

Move over BNOC, there’s a new acronym in town…

BCOC BNOC cambridge colleges Cantab college rivalry colleges collegiate system Oxbridge Oxford

When I tell people that I'm a first-year at Catz, they immediately ask if I've been to A&E yet. This is unsurprising considering that, within the space of 2 weeks, there have been no fewer than 5 fresher outings to the hospital (quite depressingly, the paramedics recognise us now). Like it or not, our reputation for the sesh is growing and spreading. Catz is already a BCOC – not that I'm biased or anything. Let's see who else is in the running.

The haunted face of a man who was kicked out of Spoons, then fell on his face

The haunted face of a man who was kicked out of Spoons, then fell on his face

St John's

Everyone knows the saying 'I'd rather be at Oxford than St John's.' The most important aspect of BCOC-dom is having a distinctive reputation that can always be linked to your college. Last week's University Challenge screening, in which St John's College absolutely thrashed St Andrew's, was met with confused and reluctant cheers as a mass of Cantabs struggled to prioritise University pride over their anti-St John's ideology. Whether you're a fan or not, they don't give a damn bout their bad reputation: being renowned for their 'wealthy from daddy's money', rugger-bugger, chino-wearing lad culture (I'm sure you're all lovely at heart). While I'm reluctant to admit it, John's is well on its way to becoming a BCOC (*grimace*).


The picturesque tourist attraction that utterly dominates all the postcards on Trumpington Street, has a BCOC-worthy rep for allegedly being a hub of Communist activity. If the blatant USSR flag in their college bar is anything to go by, King's are proud to flaunt and encourage this widespread perception. Not only are the undergrads allowed to walk in the fellows garden – a privilege usually earnt through the hard work of climbing the college hierarchy – they also don't wear gowns to formals. Do you even Cambridge if you don't wear a gown? Nothing can be more #edgyleftwing than that. Even the porters enact a totalitarian-esque regime when someone from another college tries to enter the grounds (although maybe they were just having a bad day). It is this level of dedication to the cause that puts King's in the running for BCOC-dom!

Not at all incongruous

Not at all incongruous


By way of stark contrast, Trinity has a more academically-centred reputation: they're all Mathmos. Every single one of them. Well, it's actually more like 25%, but that's still an ungodly proportion. Without meaning to perpetuate stereotypes (jokes, that's literally the entire basis of this article), Trinity Cantabs are typically nerdy, socially awkward, hermit-like beings who achieve incredibly high grades. They are the person your parents wish you would be. An anonymous Trinity Mathmo – the only one we've ever seen out of those hallowed halls – has concurred with this stereotype, claiming that they do all epitomise the archetypal geek (they said it, not me).

St. Catharine's

In addition to the Freshers' A&E-heavy contribution to Catz's rep, the entire college is absolutely mental. With designated St. Catharine's areas in the main clubs (Catz corner in Life and Catz corridor in Cindies), and the symbol of a horrific torture device impressed upon every flag, staircase, wall, and piece of furnishing within college grounds, we have an ongoing reputation that can only be described as hardcore.

Photoshop skills worthy of a trophy

Photoshop skills worthy of a trophy

And as for the rest…

For all the other colleges, longing to reach the heady heights of BCOC fame and glory, here is The Tab's foolproof checklist, devised by yours truly with all the expertise from my 2-and-a-bit weeks in Cambridge.

1. Decide on a niche angle, an untouched area of uni life on which you can make your mark. A friendly suggestion: become the college of wild and wonderful fancy dress – Halloween is fast-approaching, why not premier your college's new rep in true debutante fashion?

2. BCOC-dom beats the BNOC because it is a collective achievement, so make this your community goal – teamwork does indeed make the dream work.

3. Commit to it lads. This is far more important than your degree. In an era of commitment-phobia, be the heroes we all need and stand up for your college.

4. Get ready for ultimate notoriety and glory – I'd suggest making space on a communal mantelpiece for your metaphorical BCOC trophy.

And if all else fails, at least you're not all the way out in Girton.