College Town Or Town With A College In It?
College Life |  Source: N. Leeper, Shutterstock

College Town Or Town With A College In It?

What to think about when you hate college towns.

Perhaps one of the biggest things to look at when deciding on a college is whether or not the potential college is located in a college town.

A college town is not just a town with a college in it. A college town is where the college helps shape the identity of the city. This is because the businesses in college towns thrive off of the presence of college students.

The college in a college town is also one of the biggest employers of the town's residents. These towns are also known for their accessibility to pedestrians.

Now, that sounds great. Shops accessible by walking and booming businesses that college students want to shop at. But, if you're like me, that doesn't feel like home, and college should feel like home.

Arguably, once you are a senior, your college should feel more like home than your actual home does. This is where you are starting to build your life. Your life at college should help you to discover what you want in your future: type of residence, type of community, accessibility, etc.

I grew up in a fairly rich neighborhood. You could walk around the block and all of the neighbors were pretty close on an emotional level, but we all had our own yards and a lot of privacy if we wanted it.

It was a mile and a half walk to the nearest grocery store and gas station, but if you really wanted something and you couldn't drive, you could get there. If you drove for ten minutes, you could reach downtown, three different shopping centers and countless restaurants. The best part is, rush hour traffic only added five minutes to a 20-minute drive. That's the type of community and accessibility that I fell in love with at a young age.

I hate big cities, they just aren't for me. I hate sitting in traffic. This means that when I looked at schools, I considered the traffic that I may end up sitting in. I also wanted a school that was not in a typical college town, because something about a college town just rubs me the wrong way.

I can't put my finger on it, but I hate them. Perhaps it is the number of pedestrians when I'm trying to drive, or the fact that there is never any peace and quiet, which is something I value in my life.

If you value that too, a college town might not be for you. However, that doesn't take out all prestigious colleges. A lot of private universities aren't in college towns, and are still located in close proximity to shopping centers and the like.

That's how my college is. Also, many private universities aren't more expensive than a state school. I am paying less to attend my private school than I would to attend my state's biggest state school.

College is home; therefore, you should love the town you live in while you are there. If you hate college towns, don't despair. The best college for you is right around the corner. Your first step onto campus should not give you any negative feelings besides anxiety over leaving home. Remember that when you visit potential schools.

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The Best Things About Going To School In a Small Town

Like nature. Remember nature?

Lots of schools are in rural areas, and get mad shit for it. Yeah, it may take us a few hours to get to a major city, but there a lot of benefits to going to school in the middle of nowhere.

You feel connected to your school.
When you go to school in a city, it's easy to get distracted by the hustle and bustle around you. At a school in a small town, the university is the main attraction, and you learn way more about it. Feeling connected to your school makes your whole college experience more engaging, so you know you're getting the most out of it.

The town loves the university.
In a small town with not much else to do, the community gathers around the college. You'll see families attending basketball games on weeknights and the whole town getting pumped for homecoming. This connection helps build a sense of community between students and the college's neighbors.

Your parents can't find you.
Well, they know where you are. But they can't bother you all the time. A rural school is probably at least an hour away from home, so you know your parents won't be showing up randomly on campus. That in itself gives you space to grow and some much-needed privacy.

It's safe.
A city school comes with all the risks of living in a city, most notably, higher crime rates. In a rural area, most of the community is made up of students, faculty members, and a generally older crowd, so crimes are much less likely (although not unheard of).

~*~Nature~*~
Rural campuses have the space for big fields, green grass, tons of trees, walking paths, and gardens. A rural school is the best choice for the outdoorsy and nature-loving, or those who just love to sunbathe on a big open quad.

You want to get involved.
Cities provide endless distractions from student life, but rural students avoid that problem entirely. Small towns compel you to get more involved in the university to stay busy, and that pays off big time when it comes to building your resume.

Things are cheap.
Living in a city, you pay a premium for everything, just because the cost of living is so much higher. Small university towns rely on students as their main customers, so prices stay low, and you save a whole lot of $$$.

Concerts come to you.
Have you ever tried to see a concert in a big city? Tickets cost an arm and a leg, and they usually sell out before you can even get your hands on one. Rural schools tend to be big, and so they attract big artists coming near the area. Schools usually subsidize these concerts too, which means you get to see Fetty Wap without having to dish out your whole paycheck.

You won't live in a shoebox.
People in cities often live on top of each other in apartments that are way too small and way too expensive, and city students are no exception. Small town schools mean more space and more housing options: houses, apartments, yards, patios, and lots of room to roam.

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College Life |  Source: jennifer.dziak14

I Transferred From My Dream School

And it was the best decision I have ever made.

My dad went to The University of Wisconsin-Madison, and when I say he went there I mean he eats, sleeps, and breathes his alma mater. I was literally bred to attend Wisco. My baby pictures feature me in Wisconsin with my baby blanket that pictured Bucky, the mascot, as a backdrop. I owned more apparel from that school than regular clothing. I literally had two sets of earrings that featured the "W" emblem. My family even vacationed at the college and surrounding town one summer, which was cool with me because they had some really good ice cream, and at age seven that is all that matters.

My father's love of Wisconsin, the surrounding town, and his experience while attending made me love the school passionately. When I reached high school there was no question in my mind that it was the school I was going to attend. I guess I must have missed one little detail though, I actually needed to get good grades. Low and behold, junior year when I visited and spoke with an advisor he pretty much flat-out told me I wouldn't get in unless I transferred after a year or two. It was December 12th of my senior year when I received the letter that informed me I had been denied. I expected that, but it stung nonetheless. I got accepted to another school and briefly attended, while working my ass off to actually get good grades for once, before transferring to the school I had always wanted to attend, Wisconsin.

My first semester there was awesome, the parties were fun, the town was perfect and I made a few good friends. I went home pleased and confident that this was the place for me, feeling as though everything had fallen into place. Sophomore year rolled around and from day one things were different. My friends were involved in greek life, I was not. I lived alone and I felt isolated, bored, and frustrated. My friends weren't treating me nicely, I wasn't producing the grades I was used to getting, and it all left me feeling empty and alone. I was a two-hour plane ride or fourteen-hour drive from home, and my entire world came crashing down. I tried to get a job, make new friends and branch out by joining clubs. But everywhere I turned was a dead end, I felt hopeless and frustrated. I had worked so hard to be able to attend my dream school, yet nothing was working out. I had never felt so unhappy.

In the midst of tears, I got a phone call from a family friend. I cried to her about my loneliness, lack of a social life, and frustration. I was encountering such a serious struggle and I didn't know what to do, no part of me wanted to give up on my dream, but it seemed that I hated everything except the name and the physical attributes of the school. I had worked so hard, and this was my dream school so what the hell?! She told me that it might have just meant to be a dream, not a reality and those words stung more than anything.

Following that phone call I talked to my mom and asked her to book me a flight home to New Jersey. Once I was home a few weeks later, I embarked on the three-hour ride to State College, Pennsylvania. I'd visited Penn State before but not with an open mind. I visited some of my best friends for homecoming weekend and had the time of my life. I teetered on the decision to transfer for two more months. On a snowy November morning, Wisconsin had their last tailgating game day and I was sitting in my room, crying over the difficulties I was still encountering. On a morning that was supposed to be fun, I was sobbing. After getting a job I really liked and joining interesting clubs which did not improve my experience, I made the decision to transfer to Penn State. I made this decision knowing that there was no turning back and that I couldn't second guess myself, or I would end up frustrated and stuck again. Honestly, I still miss Madison, but I wouldn't trade my final decision for anything. I finally feel like I am where I belong, and although it wasn't where I always pictured myself, I love it regardless.

Dream schools aren't always meant to be reality, they are sometimes meant to be just that, a dream. I am beyond happy with my decision to transfer and I have had some of the best days, weeks, and months of my life at State College. If you are like I was, close-minded and convinced there's only one school for you, take a step back. Take it from me, you can enjoy a school only as much as you let yourself. I've met some of the coolest people at PSU and I no longer feel that horrible frustration with my college experience that I previously felt. I will love Bucky till I die, and when I get older I'm sure I'll stroll the streets of beautiful Madison with only fond memories. But I'll rock a Penn State sweatshirt while I do it.

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College Life |  Source: N. Leeper, Shutterstock

Why An Arizona Lawmaker Doesn't Want College Students Voting

And it's important.

I love my college town: beautiful Flagstaff, Arizona.

But I don't love politics.

Every mayor, ordinance, and representative will affect my life while attending school here; therefore, I vote. Unfortunately, next election I may not have a vote in what happens here.

Local Representative Bob Thorpe believes that out-of-town college students "unfairly influence" elections. This summer, he introduced legislation that would change Arizona's voter registration requirements. The new requirements, if passed, would require students to live off-campus in order to vote in local elections.

As a result, out-of-town students living on-campus would have to request an absentee ballot from wherever they are originally from. According to Housing and Residence Life, Northern Arizona University has nearly ten thousand students who are projected to live on campus in Fall 2017.

Although requesting an absentee ballot would not be hard, it certainly would not be fair.

I am currently attending school in Flagstaff, but my home address is in Tucson. For the majority of the year, what happens in Tucson will not affect me.

For example, if Tucson elected Darth Vader as mayor, I would only have to deal with it for about four months. The rest of the time I'd be at school.

But, if Flagstaff elected Darth Vader, it would affect me eight months out of the year. For those eight months of the year, I would be working and spending money in Flagstaff, contributing to the local economy, etc.

I would have to live affected by the results of the local elections, and yet, I would not have a vote in them.

In an interesting contradiction, Rep. Thorpe has not spoken out against other temporary residents voting locally. Each year, many people come from northern states to Arizona to escape extreme winters, and then return to their home states in the spring. Legally, they would still be able to use their temporary address in Arizona to register to vote.

Thankfully, Rep. Thorpe's legislation was not able to raise enough support to receive a public hearing nor vote. However, it still presents a danger.

College students are often seen as invaders; young people who stay for a few months a year to party and ruin the neighborhood. But, in reality, the many students living and working in the community deserve a vote. Stripping these students of their ability to vote locally would further alienate them, and the extra steps of requesting an absentee ballot could decrease participation in the elections.

Rep. Thorpe is up for reelection in 2018, and hopefully I will be able to vote against him.


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College Life |  Source: wired.com

Bored? Me Too

Why is there never anything to do?

Recently, a lot of my decisions and actions have felt very blah. I think sophomore slump came early. So, to keep from falling further into my pit of complacency, I've decided to mix things up this summer.

I can imagine a lot of students returning home for the summer or starting summer semester will find themselves in a similar predicament, especially when binge-watching shows becomes old news. Here's some ways to switch things up.

1. Take a new route to class or work.
For some reason, I've been taking the same route to work for the last year. No wonder I'm bored. I would suggest leaving early enough to take the scenic route or make a few random turns here and there. Just try not to get too lost. We still want to get to class on time.

2. Explore your town more.
If you're at school, get off campus. A different environment is a great way to get out of a slump. There's so much to see in the town that your home for four years. Even if you've lived in the same town for years, there's bound to be something new going on. The beauty of being away for college is that when you return, you get to rediscover your hometown.

3. Step out of your eatery comfort zone.
It may not seem like a lot, but believe it or not, changing where you stop for breakfast or lunch makes a difference. Food keeps you going and new options keep you from getting bored. Whether you're on campus or off campus, take a group of friends and go look for new options. It makes for a fun day outing.

4. Do anything out of the ordinary.
Repetition has given me horrible writer's block. Switching to expressing myself in a different medium, even drawing stick figures on my notebooks, has helped. If you're on campus this summer, take a class that has nothing to do with your major. Do volunteer work. If you're home and think your options are more limited, do something silly like going to the movie theater in the morning. Study a new language or brush up on an old one. Do something crazy and before you know it, you'll be out of your slump.

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College Life |  Source: rmalo5aapi

Studying Abroad Changed Me And Here's Why

It is one of the craziest experiences life has to offer.

Everyone who has studied abroad typically arrives home fresh and excited, claiming how much it changed them. Most likely, being someone who perhaps never traveled, you hear those words and quickly disregard them. If you've never been abroad, let alone out of your state or town, you won't even remotely understand the mental and emotional rollercoaster that is studying abroad.

I have just returned from a four month stay in Twickenham, England which is a small residential town thirty minutes outside of Central London. And oh my gosh, it is everything.

When I packed up my suitcase in January and headed to this whole new world, I was incredibly scared and nervous. I thought it was a horrible idea. I mean, going outside of my comfort zone? Nope. Not even. Count me out.

But I knew, somehow, that if I skipped this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, I would regret it. Every college graduate who did not choose the abroad route encouraged me to go, saying they wished they had taken the chance while they had it. So I followed my heart and ran with it.

I live in a very condensed residential town in the middle of South Jersey where people tend to spend their entire lives in one house with no intention of ever leaving. It's a bubble of the same people doing the same things every day. Essentially this town is a rut and I had to break out.

I have returned to this same town, four months later, and despite everything being the same, I am hanging onto those UK and European memories I made. My mindset changed immensely when I was far away from home. I went through rough times adjusting, and eventually realized I learned more about myself in those four months than any other time in my life.

I accomplished more than I ever would have if I stayed in that little town in New Jersey. I traveled to six different countries, explored twelve different towns and cities, uploaded 566 photos to my Facebook travel album, tanned on the beach in Barcelona, hiked an insane mountain in Switzerland, and got lost numerous amounts of time on the Underground in London. That's just a few of the things I did.

Incredible, blessed, life changing, and grateful are just a few of the words I could use to describe this experience.

Anyone who needs a change of pace, a fresh start, or even has the urge to see the world. Go. Now. And don't look back 'till you get there.