The Pros and Cons of City Schools & What It's Like to Go to One

We’ve all seen the quintessential college campus portrayed on television. Whether you’re watching “GREEK” or Van Wilder, it’s hard to miss the rural feel that encompasses the campus. What Hollywood is missing, though is the one-of-a-kind experience that city schools offer.


Who Needs the Green?

Unlike a rural campus, not every city school has a common green quad for students to hang out and relax on after class. Some collegiettes™, however, enjoy the best of both worlds, with lush campuses resting right in the heart of a vibrant city. In Montreal, McGill’s campus is close enough to the hustle and bustle, but at the same time, it’s tucked away from the overwhelming feel a city can give off.

“In a short walk, you can go from shopping on busy Saint-Catherine Street, to soaking up the sun on a hill on campus,” said Sofia Mazzamauro, a senior at McGill.

Columbia and Barnard offer the same unique experience, mixing the thriving city of New York with some of the limited green space the city has to offer.

“I enjoy a beautiful traditional campus… in the middle of Manhattan,” said Rachel Peck, a senior at Barnard and HC writer. “As much as I love NYC, I also love my campus neighborhood, libraries, Res Halls, bars, Greek houses, and green space.  I never felt like I had to completely give up 'the college experience' for four years in the most vibrant city in the world,” says Rachel.

In a small town secluded from a city, there’s only so much to do on campus before boredom strikes.

On the other hand, there’s never a dull moment when you’re living in a city and there’s always something to see and do. In New York City, you can explore the Museum of Modern Art or shop on 5th Avenue. Watch the President’s Motorcade drive by on your way to class in D.C. In Philadelphia, travel through history and learn firsthand about American Independence, or catch a Red Sox baseball game in Boston. No matter what city you’re in, the hustle and bustle will keep you busy and entertained, with boutique shops, restaurants to try, and events to witness.

 “While I still study in the library, eat in the dining halls, and sleep in the dorms, I spend a ton of time in adorably small independent coffee shops, exploring neighborhoods like the West Village and Chelsea, and going to museums and indie theaters,” said Hannah Orenstein, a freshman at NYU and Her Campus High School editor.

As a junior at George Washington University in D.C., I’ve ice skated on the National Mall, celebrated in front of the White House after Osama Bin Laden was killed, and toured Capitol Hill. Can a rural campus offer the same opportunities? Sometimes it’s better to swap the green feeling for once-in-a-lifetime experiences.

Whip Out Those Business Cards

You’re never alone when you’re in a city. Right outside campus are “real world” people, working and living their lives without the concerns of midterms and final papers. That being said, there are so many opportunities to meet new people, get your name out there, and find jobs and internships. When summer break finally hits, several collegiettes™ find themselves moving to the big cities for internships. But when you’re living in a city during the school year, you’re a step ahead of the game.

“Since I’ve been at GW, I’ve had two internships during the school year – one at ZipCar and another at Capitol File Magazine. I’ve been able to meet so many people and network, which helped me get an internship in New York City last summer,” said Becca Kipnis, a junior at George Washington University.

The transition from rural campus to a city can be difficult, especially when summer rolls around. Collegiettes™ who already live in a city not only can hold an internship year-round, but also are well adjusted with the fast-paced city life.

Even though I’m originally from a suburb right outside New York City, I’ve always found the Big Apple to be a little intimidating. But after spending the past two years living in D.C., I no longer see NYC as a daunting place. Moving from D.C. to NYC this summer for an internship wasn’t as big of a deal as I thought it would be. Going to a city school helped me feel accustomed and in sync with the fast-paced New Yorker lifestyle.

Keep Calm and Party On

When people say, “the city never sleeps,” they aren’t lying. Every night (weekdays included) there’s a party going on. Just want to dance? There are endless raging clubs just waiting for you to let loose. When you’re looking to escape the typical routine, hit up a bar—maybe even one far from campus with a different crowd to explore. And if you’re just looking to have the typical college night, there will always be a house party where you can just chill.

“I love that I don't have to fall into the routine of going to frats every weekend - instead, I can do something totally different every time I go out,” Hannah said.

A city is just as diverse as the student body is on campus. No two places are alike, with a variety of parties to explore. From theater productions and art festivals to clubs and the average frat party, a city school goes above and beyond when it comes to nightlife, with endless options for your night out.

Bon Voyage!

One of the greatest advantages of a city is how easily accessible it is. No matter what city you’re in, there’s always a train station, airport, or bus stop that will take you from point A to point B with little hassle. Finding a ride home from a rural campus, on the other hand, can be difficult. “If my parents can’t pick me up, I have to take a two hour bus to New York, then a 45-minute train to my town. So my trip is almost three hours long, when I’m only an hour and a half away from home by car,” said Hannah Grover, a junior at Lafayette College in Pennsylvania.

Jamie is a recent graduate of the George Washington University where she majored in Political Communication and Journalism.  While in school, she interned at several magazines and online publications, wrote for Her Campus, and contributed to her university's newspaper, The Hatchet. Her work has been syndicated in The Huffington Post, USA Today College, and Reader's Digest. Jamie loves boy bands, anything with a little wit and sarcasm, and of course, diet coke. She is currently pursuing a career in magazine journalism in NYC. You can follow her on Twitter, @jamieblynn


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