Colleges provide accommodation, food and spaces in which to work as well as being social and sporting hubs. In these respects, colleges are very similar, so you will not lose out on your university experience based on which college you choose. The differences between colleges lie largely in practical considerations, such as courses offered, location, size - both in terms of physical footprint and number of students - and accommodation provision. Reviewing these differences can help you to narrow down your choice of college choice, but there’s no sense in setting your heart on one particularly college, since there is a reasonable chance that you may well end up at another college.
Do see the Oxford guidance here. 🔗 At Oxford, we are striving to accept the best applicants across the University. Therefore we have systems to reallocate candidates to another college throughout the Admissions process in order to maximise the chances of strong applicants getting an interview and getting a place. So in stating a college preference in your UCAS application, what you should think about is what sort of college might you want to be at. Think about size, location, accommodation, funding and grants, facilities and accessibility if you have a disability. The course will be the same whichever college you study at.
The selection process in each subject varies in detail, but a common theme to all of the processes is that admissions decisions are ultimately a collaborative exercise made by the colleges collectively, aiming to make sure that between us we don’t miss out on any applicants who are good enough to deserve a place but who can’t be fitted in to the colleges where they are initially considered or interviewed. The process I’ve just described means that the choice of college should not significantly affect the probability of getting an offer from somewhere in the University.
College choice can matter in the sense that colleges have different characters and locations but we have far more in common than we have differences. Oxford is quite small so physical location doesn’t matter all that much, especially if you get a bike. There are also differences in size and architecture but I would argue that there are no bad colleges and virtually everyone rapidly comes to the conclusion that their own college is the best even if they didn’t originally choose it.
Your choice of college matters very little. Just chose any college or go for an open application and don’t worry one bit about colleges. It doesn’t matter and you’ll love whichever college you end up at if successful (p.s. Brasenose is the best – but I’m biased!)