Hit The Road
School search brings teen back home
During my high school senior year, my mom took me to Seattle to look at schools I might be interested in applying to. I loved everything about the city and fell particularly in love with the University of Puget Sound campus and the facilities at Seattle University.
Perhaps it was simply due to the anticipation of living in a new city for the first time, or maybe the fact that all my years of college preparation would finally bear results. I even loved the rain.
Fast forward six months, though, and as happens when you're 17, my decision about college had changed. After being accepted to both schools, I visited each again. Puget Sound was still beautiful, welcoming, and expensive as ever. The school I thought I'd decided on (because they offered more financial aid), Seattle University, was less delightful. During a scheduled meeting with the head of the English department, I was practically pushed out of his office and into one of a very old, very confused professor, as the department head shouted over his shoulder, "I'm late for lunch! See if you can give her some student publications!"
I went home with two options: Go to Seattle University, where I'd already sent a deposit, or stay at the University of Hawaii, where I would be able to study abroad in London during my junior year. For anyone who's stuck with this column, you know what the decision was -- the UH/London package. And in the end, it was the right one.
AT THE UH, I had excellent professors both in and out of the English Department. They cared about my ideas and my writing and my career. I knew they would never push any student out of their office in order to make a lunch date.
This doesn't mean my campus scouting trips were a waste of time. I still love Seattle and I sometimes daydream about living there one day.
For high school seniors who have the opportunity to visit the colleges they're interested in, I think that the experiences you'll have will be helpful in making an important decision about your future.
For those unable to leave the state to see different campuses, I suggest the following:
» Press the schools for as much information as they have.
» Contact professors in the departments that you want to know about.
» Talk to people you know who have connections to the schools or knowledge about the city or area. As much as higher education is about what goes on in classrooms, it's also about living in a totally different environment, which can have as much of an impact on shaping your life as any course of study.
Suggested viewing: For campus visits that don't require you to leave your couch, check out Collegiate Choice (www.collegiatechoice.com), which offers one-hour, unbiased campus tours on DVD.
Joy Uyeno travels frequently throughout the year, and her column geared toward beginning travelers or youths experiencing their first extended stay abroad appears the second Sunday each month in the Star-Bulletin Travel section.