Meet the Parents: College Families Explained

Bizarre but brilliant- who are these 'college parents' and why are they writing letters to you?

The college family is a huge part of Oxford life. It not only helps you get to grips with what Oxford is like before you come, but also provides you with a network for academic and welfare support throughout your time here.

Extended college families can also form great social groups. They often go for meals, drinks and activities together and act as a great way to forge friendships between academic years.

College parents

The chances are your college parents will be the first people you here from in Oxford. They weren’t randomly assigned to you, but chosen for you because it was believed they could best help you flourish here. One of them almost certainly studies the same subject as you, this means that they can provide great informal academic help. College parents are good for asking all those questions you don’t want to ask your tutors, and you may often get a far more truthful answer from them as well. Adjusting to the Oxford workload can be difficult, if you need a hand with notes, problem sheets or essay structure, they should be more than happy to help you out.

Getting married

The idea of getting “college married” maybe seem strange to some, but the institution has some great benefits. The first thing to stress is that they are usually completely platonic and act as the basis of long lasting friendships. There’s also very little need to conform to the traditional view of marriage. College marriages come in all shapes and sizes— three or four-way marriages are not unheard of.

Different colleges have different rules regarding who you can and can’t marry. Its generally advised against marrying someone who does the same subject as you, as it limits the range of children you can be assigned. It’s also advised against getting married too early on in Michaelmas, as you don’t know if you and your spouse will still be friends later in the year.

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How it works

If your college parents are doing their job right, they should take you and your siblings for a meal early in Freshers’ Week. This acts as a good way for you to meet each other properly. Asides from this your relationship with them works both ways. drop them a message asking if they want to go for a coffee if you know they are having a tough week, or pidge them some chocolates and a card if they have exams coming up. You are very much there for each other. When it comes to having your own children, you’ll be expected to write letters welcoming them to college much the same way you received them.

It may all seem a bit bizarre at first, though it is honestly a fantastic network that is the basis for many friendships, stories and escapades—just remember it’s all a bit of fun.