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College Setting and Location Matter

Student walking through snow to campus building

Leaping into a new environment without much thought is risky. So think about what surroundings and whereabouts fit your needs and make you feel at home.

Are you drawn to beautiful trees and a sunny quad? Or soaring concert halls and lively city streets? Campus looks and location will definitely have an impact on your college experience. Here are some things to consider.

Distance from Home—How Far Is Too Far?

Some students make moving far away from home an important college requirement. For many students, however, being able to easily come home is just what they need. Just bear in mind that the longer you are in college, the more independent you will become, and the more like home your college will feel.

Regional Culture—Comfort or Adventure?

If you attend a college near home, the surrounding area may be similar to what you're used to. You may find that comforting—or a bit boring. If your dream is to attend a college far from home, you might be in for a culture shock. Different weather, food, even different values can be intriguing—or disconcerting.

Urban, Suburban, Rural—What Works for You?

Large cities offer a vast array of entertainment as well as museums, parks, nightclubs, and restaurants. They can be stimulating, but they also come with their share of crime, noise, pollution, crowds, traffic—and expense.

Rural settings can feel like peaceful retreats with beautiful countryside to explore. Of course there are fewer entertainment options. But there may be lots of free fun on campus.

Park-like suburban campuses can also feel remote but offer more urban amenities nearby, such as shopping malls and movie theaters. Access to a car or bus line may be needed to get around town or visit nearby cities.

A Campus Community—or a Campus in the Community?

Some college campuses are separated from town by distance or walls. For some students, such a campus is too isolated. For others it is an ideal academic oasis. Some campuses blend so seamlessly into the surrounding community, it is difficult to tell where the campus ends and the city streets begin. Some find this exciting—others find they miss the "campus experience."

Getting Around—and Getting Home

Think about how easy or difficult it will be to get off campus and to and from class. Nearby airports, highways, and local transit make the outside world more accessible and your journeys home easier. If you opt for a big school, just getting from your dorm to your classes may require a bicycle or a campus shuttle service.

What's Next?

Search for colleges by location using College Match.

Nothing will help you discover your location and setting preferences better than visiting campuses. Visit colleges big and small—in cities, suburbs, and rural areas. For tips on how to have a productive college visit, see Get the Most from College Visits.