My Two-College, Overnight Visits

Mandi-Blog photoGuest CPE-Blog post by Amanda Youmans, Hall High Junior

Like second-semester junior year isn’t hectic enough already! Nevertheless, this past Monday and Tuesday marked my first foray into the world of overnight college visits, which my dad tells me is important in figuring out where I’m going to spend the fours years after I graduate from high school next June.

Visiting a college is like going to a museum. Some parts are fascinating, some parts you don’t connect with at all, and in some parts someone is somehow telling you not to touch something (pro-tip: don’t poke the professors).

My 48-hr whirlwind college journey began at Conn (Connecticut College). The big stone buildings gave the campus an interesting Medieval energy. While walking around campus, I kept thinking a recurrent thought: Could I see myself here? Could I see myself walking to Jazzman’s Café to get coffee or tea? Could I see myself eating in the dining hall that offered far too many flavors of ice cream?

One of the best parts about the visit was sitting in on a drawing class with a current undergraduate. The formal info sessions and tours are one thing, but seeing schools from a student’s-eye-view is important to me. I had a chance to talk to the professor, see what kinds of projects the students are assigned, and get a feel for the class size and dynamics. The size of classes is definitely something that matters to me. Personally, as someone from a public school with 20-30 students in a class, I feel more comfortable in larger class sizes.

After class, I was shown around the dorms and got a better understanding of campus life and how and when and where students interact. However, I would recommend visiting on a weekend as well as a weekday so the school’s social life is more apparent. While I was at Conn, mostly everyone was locked away studying—in dorms and empty classrooms. Speaking of student life, the snow on the ground made for a pretty backdrop, but it also definitely put a damper on activities; I bet visiting when there’s not so much snow on the ground would look and feel different.

For the second leg of my journey, I visited my dear older brother at Bryant University, the proud mascot of which is a bulldog. Bryant has a very different environment than Conn’s and, from my standpoint, exuded a more modern and cool vibe. As soon as I arrived there, the community seemed to be a lot more connected— People smiling and saying hi, holding doors open for each other— there was a greater sense of friendship and fun at Bryant.

The boost in friendliness presented me with a greater opportunity to talk to some of the students and ask about the school. Bryant is definitely strongest in business, and while I’m not interested in pursuing business as a major, it helped me get a grip on what parts of the school I liked and didn’t like. The facilities are all nice, new, and architecturally very cool. The library is especially amazing, with it’s panoramic glass and computer center. Bryant has an active student center that offers help in difficult classes. The dorms are nice and comfortable. The campus isn’t huge, but is a size that I personally liked. All these aspects of Bryant are now things I’m going to look for in the colleges I want to apply to, so even though I probably won’t apply there, it was well worth my time to visit.

In the same way I sat in on a drawing class at Conn, I sat in on a freshman math course at Bryant. I got a sense of the pace, class size, and workload. It was a great learning experience to see how an actual college math class is conducted.

Going to college was cool as well as useful. It gave me a peek into my future, showing me possibilities of what college may be like for me. Even though I may not go to either Conn or Bryant, my overnight was an important learning experience in that it gave me greater clarity about what I am looking for in a college.

So if you’re planning some trips this spring, I’d advise you to sit in on at least one class, try the food, talk to the students, look at or stay in the dorms, and walk around a lot and take in as much as you possibly can!

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