By: Danielle Garrand
It’s your student’s first day of class on their college campus. Are they strolling around a vast, green quad or are they commuting in a bustling city? You and your student have probably made about ten pros and cons lists by now to figure out where they want to be for the next four years. Here’s some advice: step away from the lists for a minute. Instead, try reading the below reasons that current college students and recent grads chose their campuses. Your teen might just discover that the perfect fit has been right there this whole time. Here are some personal stories from college students at city schools and college campuses for your teen to consider.
The City Slickers
To Expand their Horizons
Brittany Leong, a freshman at Saint Louis University, explained that she chose to go to school in the city of St. Louis, MO to experience something new. Leong stated that she hoped to “step outside of my comfort zone and be involved in a community and culture different than the one I had” growing up. City life and culture was also a draw for Sri Stewart, a 2016 Fordham University Lincoln Center grad who grew up in the suburbs. She chose her metropolitan school to experience “the heart of New York [City]” while going to college.
Some students, like Boston University junior Stephanie Ploof, chose a city school to step out of their comfort zones. Ploof said that BU was “very daunting for me at first,” but attending allowed her to have a test run of city life “without the pressures of being an adult.” College is often a great time to try something new, and heading to a big city can open up a new world for students who are ready to explore.
For their Career Goals
Going to college in a city can have pretty great perks, including opportunities to further your student’s future career. New York University senior Marc Lussier stated that, “I’m studying Theatre Education and there aren’t a lot of other schools outside the city that have similar programs. Where else would I study theatre down the street from Broadway?” Leong agreed that living in St. Louis allows her to have access to “diverse opportunities” for ”internships, jobs, and community service” year round, while many students attending schools in smaller towns can only take advantage of these positions during summer vacation. If your student is interested in getting a jump start on jobs, a city school may be the choice for them.
To Separate their School Life and Social Life
College can be stressful but being able to hop out of the library and onto a city street helps some students clear their heads. Lussier said, “It’s nice to not always be present in the same place as my classes,” as one would be on a campus, explaining, “it takes some of the academic pressure off.” Fordham grad Sri Stewart enjoyed the separation between her life at school and social life in the city as well. She stated that she actively participated in university organizations such as the school newspaper, but also experienced a “personal/social life” similar to a “non-student living in the city, “exploring New York’s museums and cultural events in her free time. For students who need a clear school/ personal life balance, a city school could be a great option.
The Campus Chasers
To Be a Part of a Thriving Community
Most colleges foster community of some sort, but students who chose to attend a “campus school” explained that their campus is what makes their school feel like home. Olivia Plihal, a freshman at the University of Puget Sound in Washington, said that she was sold on her school’s campus during a visit. Plihal said, “I saw tons of students hanging out on the quads, talking, doing work and playing games. It seemed like such a great atmosphere.” Other students explained that their school’s pride sealed the deal on their campus choice.
Annika Jonker, a senior at the University of Georgia, explained that her “campus’s spirit and community goes beyond just the physical campus of the university – it truly is all around you.” Jonker said that her school’s spirit is so far- reaching that, “I can say “Go Dawgs” anywhere I go, on or off campus, and someone will yell “Go Dawgs!” in return.” If spirit and community are high on your student’s list, they may want to consider a campus school.
For the Best of Both Worlds
Leaving home can be a big change, but Samantha Murdock, a freshman at Quinnipiac University, explained that a campus school may help make the move easier. Murdock said that a city school can be a “big transition” for some students, but “being able to live on campus is a great way to learn to become more independent without having to move to a city.”
UGA student Annika Jonker explained that students aren’t stuck on campus once they feel more comfortable being on their own. She said that “big college campuses can seem like they are always in their own bubble, but they have roots all over the world,” and those with connections to the school are “constantly championing students.” Jonker cites study abroad locations or internships as good opportunites for students to have experiences off campus.
To Meet Future Friends More Easily
One of the best parts about heading to a traditional college campus, explained Wesleyan University senior Jack Minton, is that everyone is the new kid on day one. Minton said, “a college campus is a great equalizer of sorts, a universal solvent, in which everyone is engaging with it for the first time, together,” which is a stark contrast from city schools where some students may have more experience in cosmopolitan areas than others. University of Puget Sound’s Olivia Plihal agreed that campuses simplify making friends and explained that, “You pass by so many of the same people that are in your classes that you basically have to say hello.” Campus schools make it easy to cultivate relationships with other students, so if your student is hoping for a large circle of friends living right next door, a campus school might the ideal place for them.
One of the most difficult decisions when choosing a college can be deciding between life in the big city or on a traditional campus. Parents want to help their teens make the best decision, but it is ultimately their choice to make. Do your best to visit the campus with your student, get a feel for the students and community, and, ultimately, remind your student to go with their gut as to what setting feels right for them.