Written by Katie Peterson
With so much to worry about, choosing the right school is a tough decision for many prospective college students. Typically, students make their college decision based on their impressions of the campus, quality of the academics, proximity to home, and the school’s size. As important as these are to take into account, there is one very important aspect that is frequently overlooked. When committing to a school it is also important to keep in mind the town you will be living in; after all, you won’t be sitting in your dorm room four years straight! Most colleges and universities have a strong impact on the surrounding community, so before you commit to your place of higher education, here are a few things you might want to keep in mind.
School spirit and community pride associated with your school will be at an all-time high. No matter where you go to college, the city you are located in will be beaming with pride for every home football game and sporting event. The people who live in your college town have been living there much longer than you and will have some intense support for your school’s team, so make sure the hype is something you will enjoy, there will be plenty!
In addition to sporting events, you’re going to want fun things to do on the weekends! Exploring the town surrounding your potential campus is a smart way to learn all the cool hangouts and nightlife before making your school decision. Check out the restaurants and movie theaters; find out what people do for fun when they aren’t studying!
Even if you aren’t worried about off-campus fun, you’ll need to find a place for all of your errands! A grocery store, bank, or even a mall could make your list of essential places. Be sure your college town offers these necessities or has options on campus for you. This will make your life much easier when it comes time to restocking your fridge, wallet, or closet.
Finding transportation off-campus could factor into your decision-making process. In large cities you will either need to spend some cash on cab-fare or be comfortable with public transportation. On the other end of the spectrum, if you are looking at a college surrounded by countryside you might need to think about bringing a car to college in order to leave campus.
Another very important thing to consider is the area surrounding the university you choose, because it could very well be where you apply for jobs after you graduate. With this in mind, your college town should be somewhere you could see yourself living after your degree is finished, at least for a little while. Thinking about job opportunities after college may seem like it’s a while away, but it will creep up faster than you think. You’ll want to be ready to take on all the opportunities you possibly can when it does.
College is an amazing opportunity to call a city “home” for a few years. As important as your college decision is, keep in mind that life on campus will not be your whole life. Use the change of scenery to branch out and try new things in a different setting! Be prepared for everything your new home has to offer, and if your college town is one that you love as much as your college itself, then you can be sure you’re in for a great experience.
Katie Peterson is a junior at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Mich. majoring in Business and Communication. What advice do you have for moving into a college town? We’d like to hear!