It’s both exhilarating and refreshing to step out of class and stroll across a campus teeming with students that are as diverse as the city they inhabit—a world of buzzing bus lines, culture, music and creativity around every corner. At college campuses in big cities, you get to experience frat parties, pre-games and all-night study sessions, but you also get everything a sprawling metropolis has to offer—bright lights, busy people and a frenzy of the foreign and familiar.
Let students in college towns tailgate in their undergrad fishbowl while students who attend city schools get a taste of the real world. They can have their beer and drink it too. Here’s why living the city life in college trumps spending your best four years in a bubble.
1. Meet New People
At a big city school, you don’t have to live with the constant anxiety of bumping into that dude you drunkenly hooked up with last weekend (Was it Chaz or Chad?) or that annoying girl from your Poli Sci class. Leaving the comfort of your dorm is an opportunity to build your network, meet your new BFF or just have an interesting conversation with a stranger. A short bus ride can take you to a place where you’re just another citizen of the city, without being surrounded by obnoxious college kids 24/7.
2. Combine Street Smarts with Book Smarts
We all want to be smarter and wiser when we leave home for the mystifying world of college. At a city school, you learn more than reading, writing and arithmetic. You learn to navigate both your campus and complex city streets, but most importantly your newfound independence. You won’t be met with a post-grad culture shock when you realize earning your breakfast doesn’t simply mean dragging your hungover self to a place where eggs and bacon magically appear on your plate. Instead of staring out your dorm window musing about what the “real world” is like, at a city school, you can step right outside your door and experience it.
3. Greek Life Doesn’t Define You
City kids have better things to do than run around with foreign letters on their chests and chant glorified nursery rhymes. It’s not normal for 40 dudes to live in one house and you won’t be surrounded by “sisters” when you get a post-college career. While it’s fun to live with 50 of your closest friends in college, trying to find an apartment after you graduate will be a cold, hard slap in the face. No one will care when you introduce your sorority sister at your office’s Christmas party and although you’ll “always be an alpha phi,” all the perks of going Greek tend to dissipate after you receive your degree. Going to a big city school places more emphasis on life skills and real-world experience that will transcend the time you spend on campus. You may be “Zeta Phi ‘til the day you die,” but learning how to sign a lease and fill out an apartment application might be more meaningful.
4. Have Access to Everything
Living in a big city means that everything you could ever possibly need is right at your fingertips. Out of Band-Aids? There are 22 drug stores within a 2-mile radius. Craving some IPA? The liquor store down the street is open until 3 a.m. and boasts 50 different types of pale ale. There are also hundreds of bars to choose from besides the “campus pub,” which often resembles a sloppier, sweatier senior prom.
5. Expand Your Interests
While your college career should be all about finding your niche, going to a university in a big city helps you expand that niche beyond your campus. City life offers a different adventure every day, whether it’s taking the train to a new area, testing your taste buds at a new restaurant, taking a fitness class off-campus, exploring a new part of the city, or finding your favorite dive bar. Living in a college town allows you to explore what type of person you want to be in college, but living in a big city allows you to think outside the quad.
6. More Dating Options
At a city school, “What a small world” isn’t uttered too often. You can browse Tinder with a carefree finesse without finding your friend’s ex-boyfriend or all the brothers of Alpha Delta Douche. Living in the city provides endless opportunities to meet your latest crush so you can avoid awkwardly flirting with your TA at the library or the campus café.
7. Be Aware
Living in a big city causes students to pay more attention to bigger issues that don’t just affect campus, but provide perspective that extends locally, nationally and globally. City students are less concerned with the latest college scandal or who won the football game over the weekend and more about soda taxes and turmoil overseas.
8. Concerts and Celebrities
All major musicians pass through big cities and tons of celebrities either reside in or visit them often. If you’re looking for a booming music scene, a big city school is your best bet. Good luck seeing Beyoncé in Bloomington, Indiana.
9. Get Cultured
Big cities are constantly buzzing with ways to expand your mind. Whether museums, dance performances or open mics are your thing, you’ll find them in the city. Don’t know what “your thing” is yet? Unique dining experiences, festivals, performances, art galleries and diversity are dripping from every street. Going to an urban university is a springboard out of the comfort zone and provides students with adventure and opportunity, even when they’re not looking for it.
10. The Big Leagues
There are dozens of places looking for interns in those big skyscrapers in the city. Metropolitan areas are a hub for all major industries, so there’s a place for you in the city whether you’re a writer, a techie, an engineer or an entrepreneur. While students in college towns type away four years at the campus newspaper, city students have already made waves interning at the city paper sold on every street corner.