Why College Location Matters
From rural to urban, college setting offers differing learning and cultural experiences for students. But it may not always be top of mind for applicants considering colleges when compared to other factors such as prestige.
US News recently explored how location can play an important role in shaping your college experience, as well as the opportunities that come post-college.
“It’s important you feel comfortable at a college of your choice and the setting of a college could impact what your comfort level is,” Eric Nichols, vice president for enrollment management at Loyola University Maryland, says. “Do you want to live in a big city, just be adjacent to (a) city while having a residential campus experience? Or are you comfortable with a small college town that is tucked away from a metropolitan area?”
HOW OPPORTUNITIES DIFFER
Location plays an important role in the types of opportunities you’re exposed to in college. Many students tend to find internships and jobs within the area where they attend school.
“Another factor to think about is opportunities for work experience and internships during the school year,” Heller Adler says. “The choices are slimmer in a small city as compared to New York City, Washington D.C., or Los Angeles, for example.”
Location can matter even more if you’re in a particular field.
“If you’re thinking about going into something like tech, it’s going to be much more advantageous for you to be near Silicon Valley,” Matt Woodworth, founder of college admissions consulting company Woodworth Prep, says, “but the other problem is that it is going to cost a lot more to live in a city for four years while you’re in college. So you have to weigh that in, and that’s part of the college experience.”
MAKE THE MOST OUT OF YOUR VISIT
The best way to get a feel for a college is to visit. Your college visit can help you understand the relationship a school has with its surrounding city.
“For example, a school may be located in a city but the actual location of the campus itself may be on the edge of town and the setting may feel more like a residential suburban neighborhood,” Nichols says. “Not all big city schools have campuses that spill into the downtown area. It’s another reminder to always take the time to visit the schools you are most interested (in) rather than make assumptions based on location.”
Experts recommend students to plan enough time to visit both a college’s campus and its local community.
“Find opportunities to engage or investigate the city in which the college is located,” Collin Palmer, director of undergraduate admission at the University of Toledo in Ohio, says. “I think that’s a key part of the college search process. And that’s going to really inform a student on whether or not that campus and that college is the right fit for them. So often, we focus solely on the university. Think about the community that surrounds it.”
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