What Kind of College Campus is Right for You?

May students choose their universities based on what they want from a ‘college lifestyle.’ Some want to attend a huge public university with a great football program, others want to go to a school in a cultural center, and still others just want to study at a small liberal arts college in a quiet New England town. What kind of campus do you want?

In order to answer that question, you need to figure out what your educational goals truly are. Of course, everyone says they want to get a good education so they can find a good job after they graduate. But that saying applies to almost every student in college today. No, what you need to do is think hard about your specific interests and how those apply to college, as well as specific career goals, so you can figure out what to do to get there. It’s okay if this plan changes; you can always adapt later. To not have a plan would be a far worse problem.

Although there are a wide variety of university campus locations, you can easily place them on a scale with two kinds of campuses at each end: the urban campus and the rural campus. Certainly your school of choice may fall somewhere in the middle, but it’s worth considering common characteristics of each campus so you know what to expect.

What I’m calling the rural campus is a college campus located outside of a huge metropolitan area. Often the college or university itself functions as a kind of city center. Think of, for example, The University of Wisconsin at Madison. Madison is not necessarily what you would think of as a big city; it’s commonly called a college town. Rural campuses will still have similar amenities as those of urban campuses, but on a smaller scale. Much of the area will be devoted to that university, so your activity will be dictated by university functions.

An urban campus, on the other hand, is in a metropolitan center, and it’s usually surrounded by the busy life of a big city. I’m thinking of Columbia University in New York or Georgetown University in Washington D.C. These schools are right in the center of a busy urban scene, and as such, their students have great access to a scene beyond the scope of the university itself.

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