Urban Higher Education
Many universities are out in the boondocks (the ‘boonies’ as many would call them), or quintessential college towns. There are other universities that have more ‘urban’ locations. I applied to eight universities, my senior year of high school. All but two of them were in urban locales.
I chose the suburban locale (Hampton) and was appalled at the lack of urban amenities that I was used to. I returned home to attend college in a more urban setting and loved every minute of it.
There’s many different settings within urban higher education, each having their own pros and cons.
There’s the urban selective private university. Great examples of this would include Harvard, Case Western, Emory, Columbia, Carnegie Mellon, Georgetown, etc. These schools have rich traditions that allow them to utilize the urban backdrop and remain part of the city yet have their own culture on campus. Many students attend the school for the academics, the urban location is a plus.
There’s the urban affordable public commuter campus university. My alma mater, Cleveland State University, would be an example of that. University of Illinois-Chicago is another example, as is University of Houston, Georgia State University. These schools are great bargains for local residents who want a baccalaureate degree but aren’t able to attend school due to commitments (kids, jobs, finances, etc). They tend to be commuter schools, sometimes facing safety issues because many of these campuses tend to be open (as opposed to being gated) but if you use common sense on campus, you’re fine. Also, the city tends to be an asset when it’s time for an internship/co-op, because many employers often hire graduates from the university and is familiar with the institution already.
Then there are the urban public flagship/larger universities such as The Ohio State University, University of Pittsburgh, University of California-Los Angeles. These schools have a higher residential population than many other urban public universities, primarily because of their ability to attract students from all over, not just the immediate area surrounding the institution. These schools have large sports traditions and programs in addition to the city’s professional sports teams, sometimes just as popular if not more. Their academics are great, of course, and their reputation tends to be well-regarded past the metropolitan area that it is located in.
The urban liberal arts colleges also tend to be more residential, more academic focused. Their smaller class sizes are a plus, emphasizing closeness to professors and faculty, and more individual attention, as well as the student body being more intimate. Examples of these schools are schools such as Occidental, Barnard. Excellent Academics. Wonderful student body cultures.
Urban religious colleges and universities, I decided to put in a separate category, due to their religious natures. These schools tend to require chapel or other religious services. Many of these schools are residential, some are not. Examples include Loyola University Chicago, DePaul University, Xavier University (New Orleans), Xavier University (Cincinnati), University of Dayton, Catholic University of America, St. John’s University (NYC), etc. Excellent academics, some with great athletics, some with not. Awesome if you want to attend a school within your denomination or have attended Christian/Catholic/religious schools growing up.
Then there are the urban community colleges. These schools tend to have several campuses, with the main campus in the heart of the city, and satellite campuses in the suburbs. Strong emphasis on community, they were designed originally for students located in a particular community, to have access to higher education without going far. These schools tend to have strong articulation/transfer agreements with other schools in the area, as well as outside of the area. Most of these schools don’t have residential housing for students, because their students live in the area already. Tuition is generally affordable, and sometimes you can even complete a bachelors degree with a university without having to physically go to the university campus. Great opportunity for students to raise their GPAs, save money, earn credits without the university price tag, learn in smaller learning environments, work while going to school, etc.
Institutions of higher learning in urban locations are important, as not everyone is comfortable in non-urban locales for higher education. With so many options to choose from, (and I didn’t even talk about trade schools, urban single sex colleges, proprietary schools, etc), there is truly something for all urban city lovers. And if you’re worried about safety, all institutions of higher education have campus police, who are there to ensure safety of the students, regardless of urban/suburban/rural locales. The city can truly be a great place to learn if you’re interested in it.
I LOVED going to school in the city. I was able to learn so much not only inside the classroom, but outside of it as well. Class assignments at local museums were the norm. Internships were easier to come by (and get to). Diversity was a huge benefit in attending school in the city. Being downtown in the middle of the day or even at the end of the work day, the hustle and bustle of the city-I loved it all!
I couldn’t have imagined my educational experience at a school in the country. City schools were the right choice for me!