Students attending college in a major U.S. city will have a different experience than those attending college in a more rural setting. Both environments have their advantages; here are a few tips to help you decide if attending an urban college is right for you.
Types of Urban College Campuses
Urban colleges are generally designed in one of two ways. Some universities, such as Rice University and the University of Southern California, are self-contained campuses within a major metropolitan area. These colleges offer many of the benefits of a smaller, more traditional “college town” while at the same time providing the benefits of living in a major US city.
Other colleges, such as New York University, are dispersed throughout several parts of a city and do not offer a traditional college campus experience. Many students at these universities live in apartment-style dorms or seek their own apartments or housing not offered by the university.
Also, some universities (such as Northwestern and Villanova) are located in small towns adjacent to larger, metropolitan cities (Chicago and Philadelphia). While the campuses are not within the major city, they are close enough that students have easy access commuting to campus, and may either live in or venture to the city on weekends.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Urban College Campuses
Choosing a college in a major metropolitan area offers access to many resources that students in more rural areas will not have, such as public transportation, as well as larger access to fine arts and cultural events. Urban colleges may also have better access to internships for their students, and offer an advantage for students seeking employment opportunities post-graduation.
Urban colleges also offer access to the cultural activities of a major metropolitan area. Museums, live music, and other activities are all found in the diverse offerings of big cities. Some of these activities may benefit certain academic pursuits as well. The museums of New York City or Chicago would certainly be a draw for someone studying art or art history.
However, there are some downsides to living in major U.S. cities. Cost of living is usually higher, meaning less apartment space for more money. Also, larger cities tend to have higher crime rates than smaller towns or suburban areas. To get an idea of how safe certain areas are to live, contact the university safety department or the local police department.
Campus Visits Are Essential
Whether you’re considering attending college in an urban community, or in a rural setting, be sure to visit beforehand. Touring the campus and surrounding area will give you a feel of which campus setting is right for you.