College Admissions: Is a Big-City School Right for You?
Monday, December 12, 2016
The Upside of City Colleges
It’s true that city colleges offer a cafeteria of off-campus options for amusement. Museums, the theatre, pro sports games, concerts, shopping and clubs-- cities have it all. If you are bored, you need only hop on the subway or bus to find something that stimulates you. City schools also usually have access to other colleges nearby, and students may share academic or social resources. Internships are usually more accessible, as are off campus jobs and volunteer opportunities. Transportation is certainly easy, since airports, trains and buses are all nearby. So, getting home is a breeze. There is no denying that there are convenience aspects to city colleges.
The Downside of City Colleges
First, only a very small percentage of colleges are in cities. So, if you focus exclusively on city schools, you are really limiting your options and missing out on an abundance of great colleges. Second, students often forget the sense of community that comes with a centralized campus, smaller dorms and a big green quad where kids throw around Frisbees on sunny days. Few big city schools offer that, and the biggest complaint I hear from students who want to transfer out of big city colleges is that they lack a sense of belonging. Make no mistake about it, the attrition rate is higher at big city colleges. Safety is also a factor. While many city schools have excellent security on campus, once you step off campus, you have to be aware of your surroundings and the crime that comes with big city living.
One of the most common misconceptions about colleges set amidst the mountains of Maine or flatlands of Ohio is that there isn’t much going on. In fact, colleges in more remote locations usually try harder to bring concerts on campus, create a sense of school spirit, and provide numerous extra-curricular venues for students to enjoy life outside of class. Rural and suburban campuses are alive on the weekends because students don’t leave campus and scatter in multiple directions, as they do in cities. In the end, college is about education, but it’s also about having a sense of community and looking back on dorm friends, hockey and football games, the clubs you belonged to, and the place you called home for 4 years. So, for students who think they have to be in a city, take a second look at that beautiful green campus in Vermont or Virginia that you think is too remote. You might just end up having the best 4 years of your life.
Related Slideshow: 10 Pieces of Advice for College Freshmen and Their Parents
Heading off to college can be a stressful time. To ease the anxiety, Cristiana Quinn, GoLocalProv's College Admissions Expert, has some sage words for children and parents alike.
When you arrive at college, don't expect everything to be perfect. Your roommate, classes or sports team may not be everything that you dreamed of, and that's okay. Make the best of it, and remember that college gets easier after you adjust in the first semester. Stay in touch with friends and family from home, but transition to your new life. Don't live virtually (texting) hanging on to the past too much--live in the moment in your new community.
Make sure you know where health services is on campus and the hours. Also, know where the closest hospital is, in case health services is closed. Visit the academic support center and learn about tutoring and study skills resources in the first week of school---BEFORE you need them.
Join at least 3 organizations or clubs on campus. This will give you a chance to meet a variety of people outside of your dorm and classes. Chances are that these students will be more aligned with your interests and values. Intramural sports teams, the campus newspaper, community service groups, political groups, outing clubs are all good.
Get a healthcare proxy signed before your son/daughter goes off to campus. This is critical for students over 18, otherwise you will not have access to medical info in the case of and emergency (due to healthcare privacy laws). You need to be able to speak with doctors and make decisions remotely and quickly if anything happens.
Expect some bumps in the road. Homesickness is normal, as are issues with roommates and professors. Be supportive at a distance. Never call a professor, and try not to text your child multiple times a day. This is the time to let them learn independence and more responsibility. They can deal with issues if you give them the chance.
Avoid pushing a major--this usually leads to unhappiness and causes stress in the family. It's good to provide students with resources, but encourage them to seek career testing and counseling on-campus with professors and the Career Center. Discuss options, but don't dictate or pressure students to select something too early.
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