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5 Advantages of Going to College in a Rural Area

This post is from a student, parent, or professional contributor. The opinions expressed by the author are their own and do not necessarily reflect the positions, viewpoints, or policies of Niche.

As you decide which colleges to apply to, you’ve probably considered prestige, available programs and majors, and campus culture. Although these factors are important, don’t overlook the location of the schools on your list.

Location determines the weather you’ll endure and your distance from home and family. It also plays a major role in the opportunities and entertainment available to you, as well as the people and overall atmosphere surrounding you. To help you narrow down your options, think about whether you’d prefer to attend college in a rural area, a city or the suburbs

In this article, we’ll look at the advantages of going to college in a rural area. If these benefits appeal to you, make sure to apply to several rural colleges as you begin sending out college applications.

What Is a Rural College?

Rural colleges are located in the countryside, away from major cities. Rural areas typically have low population densities and are found near small towns or farming communities. Nature lovers, students interested in careers in the outdoors, or those who prefer small and familiar groups of people may enjoy life at a rural college.

Examples of rural colleges include:

Advantages of Going to College in a Rural Area

Now, let’s take a look at the benefits of going to college in a rural area.


1. Focus on Campus Life

If you attend a rural college, you might find that there isn’t much to see or do in the surrounding area. For some students, that’s exactly how they like it. With limited entertainment around campus, the college and its students go to great lengths to make campus itself a fun, enjoyable place to be.

Whether it’s campus organizations, games, sports, concerts or simply hanging out on the quad, you’ll find that there’s plenty to do at your school. You’re also more likely to find a warm and friendly community of classmates at a smaller rural college.

Most students live on campus, and most activities occur on campus. This creates a close-knit, highly spirited campus culture. Usually, rural colleges are also home to fewer students. If you see yourself at a college where your fellow classmates greet you by name, you’re likely to enjoy going to college in a rural area. 


2. Access to Nature and Outdoor Activities

Rural colleges are more likely to bring you closer to nature and outdoor activities. Depending on where you go, you may live near mountains, hiking trails, scenic rivers or lakes, nature preserves and wildlife areas, and so on. If you’re into the great outdoors, a rural college might be the best fit for you.

Additionally, rural colleges may provide more opportunities for students pursuing a career related to the outdoors. For example, aspiring botanists, wildlife biologists, marine biologists or conservation specialists can have access to more abundant resources and career experiences in a rural area.


Where Do You Fit: City, Suburban or Rural Campus?
3. More Affordable

Life in the countryside is more affordable than life in the suburbs or in the big city. Cost of living is lower, and you won’t end up spending tons of money on shopping trips, nightlife and other forms of entertainment. While campus dining and entertainment isn’t always free, it’s certainly cheaper. 

College itself is expensive, and many students live on a shoestring budget. If you’re worried about money, going to college in a rural area can help you cut costs. 


4. Limited Distractions

Similarly, you’ll have fewer distractions and more peace and quiet if you choose to attend a rural college. If you think that living in a big city would distract you from your exams and assignments, living in a rural area might provide the atmosphere you need to focus on your academics and future career.

When you have nearly unlimited access to nightlife and entertainment, it’s easy to forget that your degree is the priority. Being part of a close-knit campus community with limited outside distractions can mean less stress and more success in college.


5. Peaceful, Slow-Paced Lifestyle

Do you prefer a peaceful, slow-paced lifestyle? If so, you’ll feel most at home attending a rural college. Urban and suburban colleges are often filled with thousands (or even 100,000+) students, noise, hustle and bustle, and a fast-paced party atmosphere.

Rural colleges offer a slower, more peaceful environment. Your fellow students feel like familiar neighbors, you’re closer to nature than to buzzing city life, and while entertainment is available, it’s not especially abundant or overwhelming. 

Classes are smaller, making it easier to ask your professors or other campus faculty for help. You’ll receive more personalized attention, and you won’t feel like just a number. 

Are There Any Drawbacks to Attending College in a Rural Area?

Every location offers its advantages and disadvantages. The right location for you depends on your personality, priorities and preferences.

At a rural college, off-campus entertainment and opportunities may be limited. If you’re someone who gets bored easily, you might find the rural campus environment unstimulating. And depending on the career you’re interested in, you may feel discouraged by the lack of internship and networking opportunities in your area.

Rural campuses can feel isolating for some students. Sometimes, you may need to endure long car or bus rides to get off campus. You’ll be around fewer people, which appeals to some students and does not appeal to others. 

Finally, off-campus housing is typically hard to find if you attend a rural college. How do you feel about living on campus for the majority of your college experience? Again, it all comes down to your personal preferences.

Final Thoughts: 5 Advantages of Going to College in a Rural Area

So, is going to college in a rural area right for you? The only person who can accurately answer this question is you. It’s all about where you will feel comfortable, happy, inspired and at ease. 

If you aren’t certain, it’s a good idea to visit a variety of locations to get a feel for what you enjoy. Visit a rural college, a suburban college, and a city college or a few of each. Where do you feel most comfortable and confident? Where can you see yourself thriving for the next four years of your life?

The location of your college matters. It will provide you with connections, opportunities and experiences that shape your future career and your life. That may sound scary, but there’s no right or wrong answer. All you need to do is choose the campus environment that feels right to you.

Author: Jason Patel

Jason Patel is the founder of Transizion, a college counseling and career services company that provides mentorship and consulting on college applications, college essays, resumes, cover letters, interviews, and finding jobs and internships. Jason’s work has been cited in The Washington Post, BBC, NBC News, Forbes, Fast Company, Bustle, Inc., Fox Business, and other great outlets. Transizion donates a portion of profits to underserved students and veterans in of college prep and career development assistance.