“It’s just college,” you may say to yourself, “four years out of my entire life is barely anything.” Okay, true, undergraduate school will only be about five percent of your lifetime (assuming you live around 80 years). But then again, that’s four whole entire years. 1461 days (gotta count that leap year) could become quite miserable if you find yourself in the wrong place, whether that’s the specific university or even the general biome.
In college, you’ll be networking and making connections to no end. Whether it’s scoring an internship or just making friends in a campus club, you’ll suddenly be meeting tons of people with similar personal, academic, and career goals as you.
Think about what locations across the US are known for your field of interest: Silicon Valley, NYC’s Financial District, Nashville’s music scene, etc. Of course there’s going to be technology, money, and music in any city, but if you’re really looking to network in your industry and have more internship options, keep these special areas in mind.
Hobbies and Lifestyle
Which sounds more appealing: the hustle and bustle of an urban city or the isolated tranquility of a rural town? Whether you want to keep the same lifestyle as you did during your childhood or completely abandon the stinky ol’ suburbs for good, the size of your prospective colleges and the surrounding city can be a huge factor to your overall happiness and lifestyle.
You won’t exactly have mounds of free time in college, but you can still continue your favorite hobbies from childhood. If those are location and weather specific (e.g. snowboarding, mountain biking, hiking, surfing, etc.), definitely check out colleges in those locations. You can get a great education at any university, but if skiing brings you an indescribable amount of joy, by all means, look for a school in the snow and continue that hobby. Contrary to popular belief, it’s possible to have a life outside of your academics. Whether that’s hitting the beach after class or going on hikes on the weekends with friends, take advantage of your college’s location!
Proximity to home
Ahh, Mother Nature. The first tier of considering weather as a factor for your college search is “Can you survive it?” Sure, you’ll probably make it out alive, but ask yourself if it’ll seriously hinder your college experience. If upstate New York’s snowy weather makes going outside unbearable for you, you might miss out on some great things. Instead of going out to meet a study group across campus, you might just stay alone inside your dorm because, oof, who wants to deal with that negative degree wind chill and 50 layers of clothing? Maybe the 110+ degree weather in Arizona deters you from joining the intramural baseball team, because exercising outside does not sound bueno. It may sound silly, but a city’s climate can completely change your lifestyle and habits, and possibly for the worst. Don’t let Mother Nature turn you into a hermit crab, sheltering yourself from the outside.
The second tier of considering weather is, “Can I afford an entirely new wardrobe?” Sadly, your 10 pairs of flip flops won’t go too far in mid-winter Boston. Money is a huge part of the college decision, and if you’d rather spend $200 on textbooks than on snow boots and parkas, it might be time to rethink moving from California to the northeast.
Is it silly to use weather as a complete determining factor for your college search? Probably. But if you believe that your college experience could seriously suffer from unfavorable weather, it may be more serious than you think. Go wherever you feel comfortable, and make sure you’re able to live your life to the fullest degree. Who knows what kind of awesome friends and connections you could’ve made at that study group or baseball team?
Success can be found anywhere. From the concrete jungle to the real jungle, acing your classes is more than possible. But when it comes to networking, doing what you love, or even dressing how you want, your prospective college’s location can have a huge impact. While location shouldn’t be a complete deal-breaker, be sure to give every single aspect of a school’s location into thought.