Niche Resources

What to Expect at an Urban/Suburban/Rural Campus

When choosing the right college for you, there are many factors to consider, including location. You’ll need to decide how close to home you prefer to be, what sort of weather you can handle, and whether the school’s surroundings suit you. To help you narrow down your choices, decide whether you’d prefer an urban, suburban, or rural campus. Not sure exactly what that looks like? Don’t worry! In this article, we’ll explain what you can expect from each type of campus.

Urban Colleges

Urban colleges are located in large cities. If you’re interested in the bustling life of a big city, an urban college may be for you. Some urban colleges have campus buildings spread throughout the city, essentially making the city your campus. Other campuses are more contained. Either way, you’ll likely have easy access to transportation, either through your school or with a student discount. Benefits of urban colleges include:

  • Increased access to internships, networking opportunities, and careers
  • More entertainment and cultural events
  • Typically, a more diverse student body
  • The adventure of life in a big city

One potential drawback is that urban colleges sometimes lack the close-knit campus culture of other colleges and universities. While activities on non-urban campuses are often the center of the school’s social scene, in a big city, off-campus events can instead take center stage. And with so much independence and such varied entertainment options, life in a big city can be distracting. Examples of urban colleges are:

Rural Colleges

Rural colleges are located in the countryside, generally near small towns, farms, or wilderness areas. If you’re a nature lover or interested in a career in the outdoors, you may feel at home on a rural campus. Rural campuses are typically far away from major cities, meaning most students live on campus and most activities occur on campus. This creates a close-knit community of learners, but some students may find this environment unstimulating or restricting. Depending on the location, you may have access to hiking trails, mountains, scenic rivers or lakes, and so on. Benefits of rural campuses include:

  • Close-knit campus community
  • Access to nature and recreational activities outdoors
  • On-campus entertainment
  • Fewer distractions and fewer temptations to spend money on off campus

Of course, some students may consider many of these benefits to be drawbacks. But would you enjoy a more tranquil, outdoorsy experience? Do you prefer for most of the “action” and entertainment to be on campus? In that case, a rural campus is for you. Examples of rural colleges are:

Suburban Colleges

Suburban colleges fall somewhere in between large cities and farming communities. For this reason, suburban campuses have some features of rural campuses and some features of urban campuses. Suburban campuses typically offer access to both outdoor activities and entertainment in nearby cities. Like rural colleges, they’re somewhat contained and tend to foster a close-knit campus culture. At the same time, there are off-campus activities and entertainment options for interested students. Benefits of suburban campuses include:

  • Access to varied forms of recreation and entertainment
  • Close-knit campus community
  • Transportation and connections to nearby cities, providing job/internship opportunities
  • The “best of both worlds”

Typically, you can think of suburban campuses as being in small cities near a big city. You’ll still enjoy the benefits of a standard college experience, but you won’t be too far from restaurants, museums, and entertainment. If you aren’t sold on big city life or on life in the middle of nowhere, a suburban campus may be just what you need. Examples of suburban campuses are:

So, Which Type of School is For Me?

To help you make your decision, let’s break it down a bit more. You are best suited for an urban college if:

  • You want to live in a big, fast-paced city.
  • You value big city life over the classic college experience.
  • Internship and networking opportunities are important for your future career.
  • A diverse student body is important to you, and you like to be around many people at once.
  • You want access to entertainment, nightlife, and cultural events off campus.
  • You won’t be too distracted by this fast-paced lifestyle.
  • Being away from nature and the outdoors won’t bother you.

A rural college might be the right fit for you if:

  • You want to be close to nature and enjoy outdoor activities.
  • You’re pursuing a career related to the outdoors, meaning you’ll find better and more plentiful opportunities in a rural environment.
  • You’ll benefit from saving your money and experiencing fewer distractions.
  • You feel more at home in relaxed environments with fewer people. You don’t think this atmosphere will be isolating or boring for you.
  • You value the classic college experience over big city life, cultural events, and diverse entertainment.
  • You have a car, expect that you’ll know someone with a car, or aren’t opposed to potentially long bus rides when you need to/want to get off campus.
  • You’re willing to live on campus for most of your college experience, as off-campus housing may be limited.

And you might be suited for a suburban college if:

  • You want to enjoy the benefits of a big city without being right in the middle of one.
  • You’ll appreciate a combination of on-campus and off-campus entertainment.
  • You’d like the option to enjoy nature while also spending time in a big city if you prefer.
  • You want the option to live either on campus or off campus, without having to navigate life in a big city.
  • Some features of urban colleges appeal to you, and some features of rural colleges appeal to you, so you’d like to settle somewhere in the middle.

The Bottom Line

There is no “right” answer when it comes to urban, suburban, or rural campuses. It’s all about your personal preferences. Which environment will give you access to the entertainment, opportunities, and overall atmosphere you prefer? If you aren’t certain, it’s a good idea to visit college campuses in various settings. Which one puts you more at ease? Where do you feel comfortable? College will be your home for the next four years. The city or town you choose to settle in will provide you with connections, internship opportunities, and possibly your future career — so choose whatever campus environment feels right for you.

Find the right college for 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.