A college town can be defined as a location or a place where the identity of the city is both shaped by and complementary to the educational institution. The neighborhoods are enjoyed by all of the residents, those who are matriculated students as well as those who are not. Not only is the college the major source of employment but its presence is also a source of commerce in the city, with such establishments as restaurants, shops, and entertainment businesses. A “true” college town is one in which the younger learners connect with old traditions, and all cultural, social, and political philosophies are welcomed and embraced by residents of the community.
A quality to look for in a college town should be its degree of walkability and the extent to which it is a pedestrian friendly community. Even if a student is intending to drive or anticipating using the public transportation system, convenience is essential. The distance between location is key; the less time that students have to spend walking from one destination to another or having to travel for daily necessities, the more time they will have to study, relax, and experience what college has to offer them.
Culture and Community
College towns are cultural mosaics that are progressive and often consist of residents who are more educated. There are independent bookstores, coffee shops, record shops, and the prevalence of more local businesses. A strong sense of community is also very important. The more involved and active the surrounding area is to the college campus, the more likely the students will become more involved in their communities as well. They will have more experiences, not only on campus, but also through participation in events and activities throughout the area. College towns offer many opportunities for students to explore and to learn about the location they will call “home” for the next few years. Whether students are living on campus or off campus, they should take the time to visit a museum, check out an outdoor music festival, shop at the farmer’s market, or attend community events.
Regardless if a college is located in a large metropolis or in a small rural town, not only will the school itself impact student success, but the surrounding town and neighborhood will also expose students to new cultures and experiences. College memories do not only occur in lecture halls and libraries. Rather, they are also created in local coffee shops, along art walks, and while exploring local venues. When applicants are considering colleges, it is important for them to visit the neighborhood and the city in which the school is located.