Starting your College Research: Student life

The last two post focused on exploring the academic experience. Today’s focuses on what happens outside of class. Click on teh tab for student life. For example, let’s look at Lewis and Clark, with about 2200 undergraduates, it is a classic resdential Liberal arts and science college in Portalnd, Oregon. 70% live on campus. How about yours? Probably the percentage is much higher in freshman and sophomore year which will create a dynamic energy and provide instant access to friends. While most colleges offer dorms, look at what they do by way of the dorms. Mark B. Ryan in A Collegiate Way of Livingdescribes the difference: “A dormitory is organized to provide food and shelter; a college, to provide for the student’s intellectual, social, and personal development.” His webpage provides a fairly comprehensive list of universities who have embraced the Residential College system. Other places like the Colleges that Change Lives are also worth looking at–and Lewis and Clark is one of them. 

Feeling more independent after a couple of years, you could move off campus. You might want to keep close though beause Lewis and Clark has 100 registered clubs and oranizations. Scan through the list and see how many you might want to join–Cuba club? Rugby (Men and women), Mock trial, Slam poetry, psychology club, SCUBA, and oh so many more. How active are the clubs and organizations you want to join? How well organized are they? These will not only be your kindred spirits, but these organizations give you a chance to develop skills. Indeed Gallup has found that that you are more than 1.8 times likely to be engaged in work if you were extremely active in extra curricular activities during college. Moreover, you are 1.4 times likely to be thriving in all areas of wellbeing. 

What a lot of people do not realise is just how much times you have when you are not in class. Sure, you should be studying some of that time (2-4 hours per hour you spend in class). This still leaves a significant amount of time to get invovled. Before you do, you should be brainstorming types of experiences you want to have in college. Certainly some of them might have to do with what you did in high school. ut college is about expanding your horizons. 

Retrun to student review sites like Unigo and Niche. What do students say about their experiences? While the obvious tabs at Ungo to click are What are the most popular activities on campus and Describe students at your campusI really like the Describe the stereo type at your school and the follow up how true is it. Tory, for example, describes students as: 

The big stereotype my friends & I hear is that LC is the standard hippy/pot-head liberal arts college, off in its own little bubble, occupied by a small population of well-to-do students, whose parents have way too much money. There is also a stereotype that LC academics is not very rigorous. And of course, everyone is ultra-liberal/ultra left-wing.

and then goes onto put it in context:

Sort of. It isn’t a homogenous student body. There are more people wearing birkenstocks and fewer wearing flip-flops here than you would find at the University of Texas, for example. And its less cloves than just regular old cigarettes that people smoke. The majority of students are some form of liberal, though libertarianism is not completely unheard of. Our school’s chapel is used more for concerts or speeches than actual church, so I would agree that religion isn’t widespread. I think the stereotype used to be more true five years ago than it is now.

Given that these are the people you will be living and learning with, it is essential to probe deeper. Now reach out to some current students or alumni. Perhaps older friends from your own high school or you can ask admission to connect you or simply facebook stalk them. Most students really like their colleges.