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Feelings of Isolation?

0521050305210503 4 replies5 threads New Member
I'm from a mid sized city and consider myself an urbanite. I'm interested in 5 schools kind of in the middle of nowhere: Vermont, Bowdoin, Oberlin, Vassar, and Williams. These schools all appeal to me academically, but what is the vibe on these campuses, and how isolated do these schools feel?
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Replies to: Feelings of Isolation?

  • merc81merc81 10625 replies166 threads Senior Member
    edited November 17
    These colleges would allow you to spend several years offset from areas of large-scale economic activity, an opportunity you may not encounter later in life. With consideration, you should develop a sense as to whether this appeals to you. Nonetheless, even a potential choice from your group that embraces its relative isolation, Williams, resides within an hour of the capital of New York State.
    edited November 17
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  • EmpireappleEmpireapple 1846 replies27 threads Senior Member
    IMHO, I think it is difficult for urbanites to live in non-urban areas including the ones you've mentioned above. You didn't mention if you are from a cold weather city but factor in the cold to these locations and they can be especially trying for someone who is used to city living. Have you visited? Could you see yourself living in these areas? I am not a city person but even for me after visiting Middlebury (I know not on your list but isolated) with my son, I couldn't imagine living somewhere so remote and I felt the same way about Williams. For us, it was not enough of a thriving small area to consider.

    I think you have to visit and make sure you do so during the academic year since that is when you'd be living there.
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  • melvin123melvin123 1581 replies21 threads Senior Member
    When you say Vermont, are you referring to UVM? If so, that’s in Burlington, a big active college town with plenty of things for you to do. If you get bored (I’d be surprised!) and have a car, Montreal is less than 2 hours away.

    On the other hand, Williams is in a very small town. Personally I love Williams and it’s cute little town, but it certainly isn’t urban.

    Vassar is in Poughkeepsie, which to me feels like it has a lot of vacant buildings. It has a decent suburban type retail strip along Route 9 if you have a car. You can take the train into NYC, which takes just under 2 hours. Look up metronorth for schedules.
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  • merc81merc81 10625 replies166 threads Senior Member
    edited November 17
    As points of reference, Newsweek included Oberlin in its article on desirable suburban colleges; Williams and Bowdoin were included in a parallel article on desirable rural colleges.

    https://www.newsweek.com/25-most-desirable-suburban-schools-71867

    https://www.newsweek.com/25-most-desirable-rural-schools-71865
    edited November 17
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  • PublisherPublisher 8902 replies107 threads Senior Member
    The University of Vermont is located in a great small city. Not isolated at all.

    Bowdoin College is a member of the 12 College Exchange. Get tired of campus, consider time on another campus as an exchange student or study abroad.

    Otherwise, apply to more urban school which appeal to you academically. For example, Macalester College is a liberal LAC in an urban area. McGill University in Quebec, Canada might be of interest to you.

    Difficult to offer meaningful advice without more specifics about your likes, dislikes, fears & goals.

    What is it about these particular schools that appeals to you ?
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 34873 replies394 threads Senior Member
    Burlington VT is considered more than great, by many.

    Attitude plays a lot. In grad school, I had a friend from Brooklyn who thought Los Angeles was provincial. Bowdoin is 40 minutes from Portland ME. Vassar is about an hour from NYC and plenty of kids spend time there.

    Colleges generally have their own activities. So check out the clubs, events, visiting lectures, internships, etc. Many kids assume the college is defined by the city environment. Not necessarily.

    A bigger issue is how difficult it is to get to some colleges.
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  • itsgettingreal17itsgettingreal17 4110 replies28 threads Senior Member
    This is a legitimate concern. I attended a rural LAC and the unhappiest students were the ones from NYC and major cities in California.
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  • 0521050305210503 4 replies5 threads New Member
    itsgettingreal17, I'm not technically "from" a big city but I've spent much of my life bopping from Philly to Boston to NYC and back. I take a lot of vacations to national parks and I enjoy nature, but I don't know if I really want to live in a rural place, or if it would better to settle in a city and every once in a while take a trip to some mountains or rivers or slopes.

    I'll definitely tour a few before I make any decisions though. Just out of interest, where did you go to school?
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  • liska21liska21 663 replies10 threads Member
    Visit some LACs in cities and others in rural areas and it'll probably become very clear which locations you prefer. Pick some near where you live to visit if the ones you listed are not close.

    My son is from a fairly big city but wanted to be in a rural setting with outdoor activities on his doorstep. He did care being near a city and actually wanted to be away from all that hubbub. Some of his HS friends were the opposite; they wanted to be in the heart of a vibrant city.

    It just depends on your preferences.
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  • momrathmomrath 5986 replies39 threads Senior Member
    @05210503 My son, who had only ever lived in mega-sized cities, chose Williams because of its insular, mountain village environment, not in spite of it. He enjoyed the natural beauty of the surrounding countryside and immediate access to outdoorsy activities. He liked it so much he chose a rural university for graduate school. He's back in a big city now, where the jobs are. He would consider the time spent at Williams a wonderful interlude.

    Whether a rural campus is the right place for you depends on how you envision spending your non-academic time. Colleges like Williams and some of the others on your list, provide a wide range of campus focused activities, and students do manage to visit New York or Boston once or twice a term.

    But if you're feeling drawn to a college that uses its city location as an expanded campus, then you'd be better off not choosing a rural location. There aren't too many urban based LACs, but there are quite a few urban, mid-sized privates.
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  • monydadmonydad 7854 replies158 threads Senior Member
    edited November 21
    I can't do comparables, since I am not that intimately familiar with all of these schools.
    But based on the situations of my kids I can speak generically.

    Small school in a small town:
    It depends to a large degree how well you fit with the prevailing campus culture. If you fit well, good chance you will have a lot of friends there. And have activities available that you like to do. You will probably have enough to do most of the time, because there is a common need to have enough to do, which resourceful fellow students will find ways to address. Assuming you have people to do them with.

    However if it turns out you don't fit that well, and do not develop a sufficient social network, you can have a real problem. Because there is little else to turn to for activities.

    Larger school in a small town: Less of an issue, because less predominant overall campus culture, and more individuals in each "niche", more likely to find your network of fellow travelers. Plus, more going on thru the school itself, given it's size.

    IMO.
    edited November 21
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