I'm glad that my daughter will be spending her undergraduate years at Cal Poly in a town the size of SLO. And, the location really isn't that bad, considering it's close to the ocean, mountains and several wineries, etc. And, the weather is mild.
My daughter was initially interested in going to school in Boston. She loved the idea of the city atmosphere and everything it had to offer. But, I think she came to realize that what she was really looking for is a traditional college campus and a "real" college town. That was when she decided that Indiana University in Bloomington had not only the small town of Bloomington, but a large campus with historic buildings. However, in the end, she chose Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo. It was also not so far from home.
When she was later accepted to USC, she made a pros and cons list. She had to pause for a bit before turning USC down outright. Interestingly, it was the "small, chill town" that won over the much larger and spread out L.A. Yes, there would have been a lot of cultural and entertainment opportunities, but she also knew that SLO would give her the chance to grow as a student in a different way. She could ride her bike into town easily. Hang out with friends downtown or at the beach. She felt the "neighborhood" just felt safer. And, above all, she didn't think she could live in the polluted air of L.A. for 5 years (a Bachelors to Masters program.) Oh, and she would have had to take out loans.
I know she made the best choice. And, so far, she seems to be feeling the same way!
She's shown an interest in applying to grad schools in the Boston area or another large city, though. And, I believe by then she'll be ready to experience all that a vibrant, urban setting has to offer. And, won't be looking for the "total-on-campus-college-experience" that she'll enjoy as an undergrad.
2Leashes: Interesting you mentioned Boston. I lived in Boston and went to school in Cambridge (many moons ago). Very fun place to go to school. You had so many students from many different schools, it gave the city a certain upbeat, youthfull feel to it. Some schools had a true campus (and resulting on-campus atmosphere) while others just blended into the city. My son goes to Cal Poly SLO. The town atmosphere (to me anyways) seems dominated by the one big school in town. It isn't bad and hard to say how it is different, just a different feeling from Boston. The SLO surrounding area is certainly beautiful. Although the two areas are different, I think both choices are good places to go.
PS. I was recently back in Boston (I live in SoCal) and the fall foiliage is starting early this year. Made me very homesick. You do have a larger spread to your seasons in Boston, if that is your cup of tea.
The school my daughter was looking at for the BS-MS Occupational Therapy program is Boston University. Not much of a *real* campus there. It's almost like the city is your campus. She can still apply there for their Master's program in OT. Or Tufts and other schools back East with OT programs. I know she'll be better equipped as a 22 year old to thrive in an urban atmosphere. And, she can actually go into a night club and her ID will be legal. But, I agree that Boston sounds like an exciting place to be as a college student!
I actually went to school in both SLO and Boston. Cal Poly for my undergraduate and Harvard for my graduate studies.
I really think you can't really compare the two because they are like apple and orange. I think both places have their respective charm.
Boston has great architecture, packed with first class universities (MIT, BC, BU, Berklee, etc.) which give the city a quasi-college town flavor. I really appreciate Boston for all its history, its great great museums, and decent city night life with outstanding Italian restaurants, good night clubs, lovely fall colours, and its relatively close proximity to NYC, Newport, and Vermont (great skiing and golf). But beware that Bostonians are not very friendly bunch, and the kids from MIT/Harvard can be very snooty.
SLO has its charm but in a different way; SLO's charm is center around its breathtaking hills and coastlines, its seemingly endless white sand beaches, and its eternally mild climate and blue sky. Contrary to what everyone thinks, IT IS NOT BORING. Out of the 4 years living there, I have never been bored. Cal Poly itself is a pretty tight knit community, and there is definitely a strong sense of esprit de corps amongst the students. So when and if I ever had time from my studies, I never had any trouble finding some interesting school friend to go on a random adventure. Whether it is taking a long hike in Poly Canyon, climbing up the 'P' mountain, going surfing in Pismo, or hitting the club/bar scene in downtown SLO, I always have a grand time. Also, it is because the town is small, it feels very home like because you see your friends with smiling faces everywhere each time you go out to downtown. In fact, after my graduation and moving back to San Francisco, I was longing for SLO. I have to say going to Cal Poly was one of the best decision I have made and it gave me some of my grandest life experience so far.
So at the end, it really depends on what you are looking for.
2Leashes: BU was the college that I was primarily thinking of when I said that kind of blended into the city with no real campus.
I've met a lot of SLO grads thru my work and they all loved the city.
So, to the original question: lots of pros for SLO; no cons that I can think of with the minor exception of transportation to/from SLO if you need to travel very far. You kind of need to travel to somewhere else (SF or LA) and then on to your final destination. For those only going within CA, the train or one's own car make transportation easy.
I liked what you had to say, ickglue! I think my daughter's experience (if she ends up in Boston for grad school) will be exactly how you described. And, also having "tried out" both the smaller town atmosphere and the "city scene", that will give her a better idea of where she might like to live and work in the future. Of course, she may need to go where the work is!