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.