Written By Professor "T"
When researching colleges, make sure to consider not only factors such as academic programs, location, and cost, but also a school’s culture and atmosphere, as they can greatly impact how you feel as a student and affect your success.
Drawing from my own experiences at different schools, I can attest to the importance of the social and academic environment. I attended USC film school for my undergraduate studies, where Greek life and college football played a significant role in the on-campus culture, and I enjoyed many memorable experiences off-campus due to the school's proximity to Hollywood and the Pacific Ocean. Once, I even got to dance with Kevin Hart during a premiere for one of his movies! During my graduate studies, I attended the University of Chicago, which has a vastly different culture that is characterized by academic rigor and the motto "where fun comes to die." However, I found that the undergraduate students there take pleasure in engaging in the extreme intellectual labor required to succeed. As a visiting professor in the English department at Reed College, I experienced a unique atmosphere that was similar to the University of Chicago in terms of academic rigor, but with a more playful, whimsical, and laid-back atmosphere in the beautiful natural setting of Portland, Oregon.
These top-tier, world-renowned prestigious institutions vary greatly in what they offer students in terms of their social lives. Therefore, it is essential to ensure that the college you choose provides a pleasant experience with on and off-campus activities that add to your peace of mind. Be honest with yourself about your preferences, for example, if you dislike cold weather, eliminate schools in cold-weather environments. Additionally, if you value ecological ethics and consciousness, ensure that the institution you choose aligns with those values.
It is crucial not to underestimate the importance of enjoying the environment you will reside in as a student. Self-directed truth-telling must be at the center of your college search. Student mental health is a significant crisis that negatively affects many students, and a student's well-being can be greatly improved by choosing a school that they genuinely enjoy.
There are numerous ways to find out if a school will be a good fit for you. Thanks to social media, you can create connections and get insider information on schools by posting questions on Reddit or following social media or YouTube pages of current students. This can save you the effort of applying to a school that you would later resent.
Many students I taught at Reed College regretted not researching schools more thoroughly before applying, being admitted, and deciding to attend. They experienced culture shock upon arriving on campus and wished they had spent more time researching schools. Some students even asked my advice about transferring to other schools to find personal well-being.
If possible, make sure to visit the campus and take note of the overall vibe and energy of the campus, as well as the diversity of the student body and level of school spirit. Research the surrounding community and what resources, opportunities, and activities are available to students off-campus. Your inner compass can help give you an intuitive sense of whether a school is right for you.
Each school has a unique flavor and signature when it comes to the cultural atmosphere. Learn as much as you can about the social environment you will be joining and adding your unique personality to. Ensure the school meets your standards and personal values so that you can feel proud of the choice you made for years to come!
Professor “T” is a former visiting professor at Reed College, a former University of Chicago Admissions Officer, and a current Admissions Officer for another prestigious university that can’t be revealed (it’s one you all love!). We have worked with her and other admissions officers to put together a special package to help you gain admission into the school of your desire! Call or email us, and we can send you more details to get started for the 2023-2024 college season now!
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