Are rural schools or city schools better? A trip home helps me answer this dilemma.

The first time coming home from college was, for me, surprisingly unsurprising. In my head, I guess I had expected to get back to my former home and see it through some sort of different lens. In reality though, it felt pretty much exactly the same as before.

After a 6 hour bus ride, my dad picked me up from O'Hare International Airport and we drove to the western suburbs where I spent the last 7 years of my life. I have two high school friends who go to school in the city so after saying hello to my mom and brother, I boarded the Metra and rode to Chicago. After sitting and waiting for my friend Chris in the food court of Union Station, I saw him strolling down the escalator and saw his face break into a smile when he saw me.

Chris goes to DePaul University in Chicago. We swapped stories from our first months at college as we walked through the bustling city towards the L station that would take us north to DePaul’s Lincoln Park campus. Going to school in the city is different than going to rural schools like Luther in so many ways. And while many people really enjoy the city location for their education (and I definitely enjoyed my weekend there), I am very thankful for the peacefulness and intimacy that going to school “in the middle of nowhere” offers.

There are definitely many opportunities that come along with going to school in a major city. There’s widespread cell phone reception regardless of carrier, you have the ability to go to a Verizon store to switch your plan so you can get reception in Decorah (see ya T-Mobile, it’s been real), literally any type of food you could possibly want is within a 15 minute walk, and there is always some sort of concert, festival, or show to attend.

While these advantages are really fun for me, I don’t think I would be happy attending a school in a city for a variety of reasons. First of all, many schools have several campuses around the city which requires a train ride to get from class to class. The connectedness of Luther is part of what makes me love it so much. I have no class that is more than a 3 minute walk from my room in Brandt. Having this quick access makes going to class much easier and more enjoyable. Another component of going to school in the city is how densely populated it is. At Luther, I can walk about 10 minutes to the west and be in a relatively remote forest where I can hang my hammock and be pretty sure I won’t see a person more than once every hour or so. This ability to find secluded areas and be in nature is extremely important to me.

So, at the end of the day, city colleges and rural colleges both offer unique advantages that can’t be found elsewhere. It really just comes down to personal preference. The most important thing is that the school you choose feels like home to you, whether that is in the city, between two cornfields, or somewhere in the middle.

DePaul University's Commons

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