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Old 18-07-2011, 10:41 AM
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Don't be so quick to comdemn the Cambridge colleges and their students.

From University of Cambridge: overview of the University :

"Each college is an independent institution with its own property and income. The colleges appoint their own staff and are responsible for selecting students, in accordance with University regulations. The teaching of students is shared between the Colleges and University departments. Degrees are awarded by the University."

Thus it doesn't matter if you attend a rich college or a not-so-rich one, as the degree is awarded by the University. MM (Emeritus) Lee's rare double honours are definitely rare and extremely prestigious, so are Kenneth Jeyaretnam's.

More info on which colleges are rich :
Cambridge College Pros and Cons - The Student Room
nobody is condemning cambridge and its collegiate system, or its students. I was from cambridge, and i can tell you that while the degree is indeed awarded by the university, it also lists the college you attended, and that makes a difference.

Camrbridge undergrad takes tripo exams at the end of each academic year. Part 1A for first year, Part 1B for second year, and Part 2 for third year. Camrbidge's system is such that the honours that you graduate in is dependent entirely on the results from Part 2, ie you can crap out your Parts 1A and 1B, and still graduate with a 1st if you excel in Part 2. A double first simply means you get first class overall (>70) for Parts 1 and 2. Typically, one can claim double first if he gets a first calss for Parts 1B and 2 (but note that if you get first overall for Parts 1A and 1B but 2.1 for Part 2, you grad with 2.1 hons!). Double first is not very rare. My estimate (not official) is that there are many 5% of students who get double first every year. But LKY graduated with doubled first starred, and that's rare. double first starred is like a very good first (maybe >80).

The difference in prestige for various colleges in Cambridge (and Oxford) is very real, otherwise LHL would have gone to Fitzwilliam following his father's footstep instead of the all mighty Trinity. Academics know that too, and Trinity has more endowed professors and esteemed researchers than, say, Fitzwilliam or Wolfson, or the two combined.

It is pretty much the same as the perceived prestige in the ivy league in US. Harvard is always on top (maybe justifiably so) along with Yale and Princeton (for undergrad) who, together, formed the big three. In fact, Princeton is seen as the most blue blooded of the three, and it has nothing to do with academic rigor. A lot of other schools (ivy or non-ivy) are on par with or exceed princeton's academic accomplishment, but none would ever be perceived as more prestigious.
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