One of the most important things in the college process is visiting the colleges. Even with all the research you have done, there’s just nothing like being there. Often, schools will pay to fly you out. Take advantage of this! The best way to know if you want to go to a school for four years, some of the most important and influential years in your life, is to go there. I learned so much about myself and what I wanted by seeing the colleges in action, so to speak. It’s not just about the academics- your college experience will also include outside the classroom.
My three top choices were in completely different areas. Williams is in the absolutely beautiful, secluded Williamstown, MA, Columbia is in the bustling, culture rich and vibrant, New York City, and Harvard is in the cute little charming town of Cambridge, MA, minutes away from the surrounding Boston area. Academics wise, I couldn’t go wrong.
I loved that Williams was quiet and secluded, and I believed it would be a wonderful way for me to keep focused on my studies. However, when I visited, I realized spoiled by California’s effortless transportation system, I knew I’d get restless in the sleepy, tiny town of Williamstown. And I felt I wouldn’t get the cultural experience I craved in such a small environment.
That said, Columbia might seem like the obvious choice. It’s bustling with culture — with NYC, the United Nations, Brooklyn, thousands of cultural events, and the teeming nightlife just minutes away, no one would STAY on CAMPUS. It’d be a waste of NYC! And I knew I wanted the choice to stay on campus, that I wanted the college campus experience, and I knew I wouldn’t get that at Columbia. Ultimately, I didn’t choose Columbia because it was too busy and hectic.
Ultimately, I chose Harvard because I liked the “feel.” I liked all three colleges, but ultimately, Harvard felt right to me. I was able to see myself there for four years. I felt comfortable there. There isn’t a way to describe except that it seemed like the right place for me.
No matter how much you read and research about a college, no matter how much you think you know about it, visiting is the best way to know. There are some things you can’t measure in a college guide. I loved Williams and Columbia, but at Harvard I felt right at the school and in the city.
Sometimes, a step onto a campus is all you need.