Why Campus Life Matters When Choosing a School

By Paige Captain on July 18, 2017

My article for today is more so for the high school students who are looking at different colleges rather than for students already in college.

As someone who has always lived in Southern California, when I was in high school, I was super set on going far away for college. I actually had my heart set on one school in particular: Seattle Pacific University up in Washington state.

I didn’t even want to apply to any other schools, especially not any schools in California (but of course my parents made me apply to a few in-state schools just as a backup). Then when I got my acceptance letter,  I took it as a sign that of course I was absolutely meant to go to this school. 

However, to my surprise, I did not end up feeling like Seattle was where I was meant to be after all. I found myself counting down the days until the next time I could go home, feeling jealous of my high school classmates who chose to go to school locally and overall just feeling extremely homesick.

Upon returning to Seattle after Christmas break, I began to do research on universities back in Southern California. I ended up finding Azusa Pacific University (which is ironically Seattle Pacific’s sister school) and now that I have completed my sophomore year at APU, I can confidently say that I made the right choice.

During the summer after my freshmen year in Seattle, the number one question I got asked was why I had chosen to move back home. Even though it seems like a simple question, to me it honestly wasn’t. There were so many things that contributed to my decision. Even though ultimately the simple answer was just that I was unhappy, being asked this question over and over again really made me start to think about what exactly made me unhappy during my time in Seattle.

After much thought, I realized a lot of why I felt so miserable wasn’t because of Seattle itself, but because the university I had chosen wasn’t a good choice for me. Then, of course, I began to unpack what it was about SPU that I disliked so much.

Something that I hadn’t noticed until I actually started as a student at Azusa was this concept of “campus life.” What do I mean when I say campus life? To me personally, campus life can be defined as the atmosphere of a college determined by the behavior/activity of the students at a college.

One of the things I love so much about Azusa Pacific is that there are always tons of students hanging out on campus. As someone who definitely considers themselves an extrovert, getting to walk around campus and constantly run into friends and professors is something I really value. I know it may seem like such a small detail, but this aspect of APU has truly made such a positive impact on my college experience.

My time at Seattle Pacific was very different than my time at Azusa Pacific so far. At SPU, students rarely hung out on campus simply for the sake of hanging out on campus. I want to add a disclaimer to this and say that granted, it was probably because of the rainy and gloomy weather, but nevertheless, it was true. Also don’t get me wrong, there were still things going on at SPU. When the weather was better in the spring, there would be fun outdoor events and of course, there were indoor places to hang out in such as the coffee shop and library. However, at the end of the day, it just wasn’t the place for me.

With all that being said, even though I’m someone who enjoys a university with weather that permits people to hang out outside on campus often, there are also people who prefer to be indoors and not around as many people. As much as I would like to say that it’s up to you whether or not you enjoy being at your university, that just isn’t true. I really believe that different schools are for different people and it’s important to really get to know your university before making a final choice.

My advice would be to first of all, obviously do a campus visit and really pay attention to the type of students there and what activities they’re doing. My second nugget of advice would be to simply ask students who already go to the university what the school is like, why they like or dislike it, etc.

I know at the beginning of this article I said that this article is more for high school students about to start college rather than students already in college, but I really think there’s something in this article for college students as well. It wasn’t until I actually began college that I became familiar with the concept of campus life and how it would affect my college experience.

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Thanks for reading!!

-Paige

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