Sitting here I can’t believe that I am half-way through my second semester of college. It felt like yesterday that I was researching and planning what colleges I was going to apply to. Looking back, I played it safe when applying to college. In reality, the time when you apply to colleges should be one of the times in your life when you don’t play it safe. During this time you are giving an opportunity to go practically anywhere, and because of this, you should definitely apply to multiple reach colleges.
I applied to quite a few schools, and the five that were at the top of the list, for a variety of reasons were; Rutgers University, Widener University, St. Joseph’s University, Drexel University, and Stockton College. I analyzed each of these schools an insane amount of times, and honestly stressed a lot about which was the best place for me to go. I believe that the best way to grow our own opinions is to listen to and dissect other people’s opinions; Because of this belief I am going to go through each college/university in my Top 5 list and state a couple of reasons why I liked or disliked them. The first university that I am going to discuss is St. Joe’s. For those of you who don’t. St. Joe’s is located in the Philadelphia area. Despite the common misconception about Philadelphia the area that St. Joe’s was located in was very safe. The thing that I liked about the university was the evident camaraderie among the students and faculty. Both groups were extremely welcoming and insisted on you feeling at home while on the campus. Additionally, the abundance of student facilities shattered across the campus was reassuring that the school contained everything a student needed to succeed. On the negative side, because St. Joe’s is on the smaller side it is extremely important that you feel and see yourself on the campus, and instinctively look forward to returning. Sadly, these feelings did not resonate with me.
Widener is the second university that I am going to discuss and also lies in the Philadelphia area. This university was very popular with me. From the moment I got my acceptance letter I felt welcome. Out of all the acceptances that I received, Widener University definitely seemed the most excited about each individual person admitted. When I visited the campus on accepted student day, the genuine welcome continued. The campus was very nice, however if you go over one wrong bridge you will find yourself in a tough neighborhood. The facilities were plentiful and up-to-date and the faculty was nice, knowledgeable and friendly. To this day I can’t think of anything majorly wrong with Widener, they offer very generous financial aid (based on my experience) and they offer a solid and exciting environment to build your professional career.
To wrap up our Philadelphia trio, Drexel University is another university I visited and really liked. Unlike the previous two, Drexel is huge university. During the application process I think Drexel was my first choice. Concerning what Drexel has to offer, there are no negatives. Drexel University has tons of dining, recreational and academic offerings for their students. Besides the superb academics that are offered at Drexel the thing that attracted me the most to the school was the, more or less mandatory, co-op program. Drexel is a leading participant in employing co-ops. Through these programs students are able to get hands on experience, as well as make good money along the way. No matter what school you choose to attend I urge you to look into co-op opportunities, internships, and study abroad. All three can provide life changing, life directing lessons that can help you become the person you are destined to become. There are two facts about Drexel that I feel are important to address. First, Drexel is very expensive, and prospective students need to weigh whether they are willing to make such an investment. If you are looking to get a degree further then undergrad, it is important to take into account two bills that can be very expensive. Second, all though not necessarily a deal-breaker Drexel does run on a trimester system in which the days and breaks are off-set compared to most colleges. The implications of this are purely social, as you may not be on break when your friends who are attending different colleges are.
The final two colleges I am going to discuss are both in New Jersey. The first one is Rutgers University in New Brunswick. It is my believe that my visit to Rutgers was the first college visit that showed me what type of college I couldn’t see myself in. These types of visits are important too, they help solidify what you are looking for in an ideal college and give you prospective on the variety of academic offerings. I am positive had I chosen to attend Rutgers I would do extremely well, however I could not see myself there. The main reason why is because the university is an extremely large university. It is spread across multiple campuses, which are connected by a shuttle system. Overall, I don’t have many opinions on the school. It is an obvious point that it is a great school. It is known and reputable and has the potential to provide every student a unique and exciting experience. During your application and acceptance process pay close attention to the size of the school and whether or not you are the type of person who enjoys that many people.
The final school on my Top 5 list is Richard Stockton College. This is the college I am currently attending; therefore it is obvious that it would be on my Top 5. Off the top of my head, Stockton is the smallest of the five schools I strongly considered, but to me it is the best. From the moment I step on the campus I felt at home. The faculty and students were both extremely friendly and encouraging. They answered every question we had, and even went above and beyond to make sure we were comfortable and taken care of. Stockton is a college that is growing continuously and is offering new and exciting opportunities and recognition for the school itself and also its students. Initially, I was worried that such a small school would limit the possibilities I had. This was quickly shown as a fallacy. Ever college has the facilities and staff who work each day to improve the lives and future of the students that pass-by. Don’t be put off by reputation. The performance you do in your classes and the activities you do in the spare time trump any hiccup a reputation problem would cause.
In conclusion, enjoy the application and investigation step of college. It is an exciting and special time and everyone’s life. By taking time and weighing what you are looking for in a college, as well as, what colleges offer the major that you are planning to study, you will make the final decision a thousand times easier.
On a side note, I commute to Stockton each day and drive a 1998 Chevy Cavalier. She’s not the newest and fastest car, but she is reliable.