Location, Location, Location!
Recently, Dr. Kat spoke with the Los Angeles Times about the benefits and shortcomings of virtual campus tours. Virtual tours are a great (and free!) way to gain an overview of a campus’ main attractions, but even with technological advancements, nothing beats the impression you gain from stepping onto a college campus. At IvyWise, we advise that whenever possible, students should visit a college in-person to get a sense of the three Cs – campus, classroom, and community.
The location of a college could have a significant impact on your college experience. From internship opportunities to expenses and extracurricular activities (you likely won’t have access to skiing or snowboarding if you attend college in Florida!), when creating your college list, consider such environmental factors as:
The size of the city or town where a school is located will likely have a significant effect on its campus culture. For example, heading to the big city may seem exciting, but the reality could be overwhelming. There are several considerations you should take into account, such as whether you enjoy being independent or like having the support of a community, or whether you're more interested in being part of a city or a campus. Campus activities may be diminished at urban schools where students can easily head off campus, particularly in places like Chicago, New York, and Boston. If you're looking for a stronger campus community, consider suburban, small city, and rural campuses, which are more likely to have a cohesive student body. However, the surrounding area may present fewer opportunities off campus and a more limited array of activities.
Virtual tours likely show the campus at its best – on the sunniest day with the best-dressed students, and perhaps have even been retouched. Similarly, many students visit colleges during the summer or spring break, when the weather is ideal. Be honest with yourself, can you live in snow, sleet, hail, and temperatures that drop below zero for four months out of the year? Can you survive the constant rain in the Pacific Northwest or the humidity of the South? The climate in an area can also impact your lifestyle, such as the types of outdoor activities you will be able to pursue. Alternatively, you may find that a change of pace is refreshing. For instance, if you are from the Colorado, you might enjoy trying your hand at surfing rather than skiing.
The culture of a city or town is also important. For example, the cultural differences between the North and South on the East Coast, and between the East and West Coasts, can be fairly vast. While these differences are neither bad nor good, they will shape your college experience and are important to consider. This means it's not just the place that is important, but also the people who live there. Many public schools take the majority of their students from their state or local area. So if you like aspects of West Coast or Southern culture, then a school in that area may be for you.
You may find that your college search changes based on your career aspirations. Sometimes students have to relocate to new cities after college graduation to find work. You can get ahead of the game by focusing on schools that are located in areas that cater to or specialize in the career you'd like to pursue. Employers are often most familiar with students attending schools in their area or region. Your internships are also likely to take place at local businesses, so check out the surrounding area for companies and types of positions that interest you.
Though many high schools see college as an exciting option to move far away, the reality of living away from home for the first time can be daunting and even lonely. Carefully consider your relationship with your family and how often you'll want to visit them. College is a time to explore and discover, and while you should take the time to get to know your campus and classmates, you might still want the option to visit home on school breaks and other occasions. Consider how far you're willing to travel home during the holidays. Also consider the expense of travelling home – a plane ride will likely cost more than a train or bus.
While no one of these factors should exclude a school from your list, they are all important aspects of location that influence college life and should be taken into consideration before your list of potential schools is complete.
Too many colleges to choose from? Contact us today for help narrowing down your college list!