It’s about diversity of experience: A response.By
Today’s PRiscope is penned by Maggie Rose, Bowdoin ’17
The employment advantages of attending a college or university in an urban area were perfectly emphasized by Steve Cody in a recent blog post: By attending a school in a city, you are already located “where the strategic jobs of the future will be in greatest demand.” To study in a large city, a student is given the means to make serious steps in the right and desired career direction. It’s true – you cannot find the same extent of President Joseph Aoun’s “robot-proof professions” around rural campuses. The economic health of the surrounding communities in the most prestigious ivy-covered schools are not able to offer the same amount of professional opportunities than that of schools located in urban areas.
However, there are three things the campuses with neo-Gothic buildings will always have over any city location – and these advantages are most definitely appealing to employment recruiters.
Diversity of Thought: Colleges and universities located in urban areas typically have their undergraduate students enroll in one academically focused school to help students specialize in their areas of interest. This is true of Michigan, NYU, B.U. and almost all other large, city schools. Colleges and universities located in rural areas are more likely to have students enroll in a general curriculum where a specialization is not necessary until upper-classman years. These schools encourage thinking outside of the box and exploring areas outside of comfort zones to gain what the Huffington Post labels as a, “cross-disciplinary perspective.” Graduates coming from Yale or Williams may be in a better position to handle a wider and more challenging variety of projects in the workplace. Rural campuses do not teach their students to think only in one direction.
Critical Thinking Skills: Students at rural schools are strongly encouraged to think analytically. Classes emphasize writing and critical thinking as the foundation to any and all academic progress, no matter the field. Class size is also significantly smaller, making participation much more valuable. U.S. News states, “research has shown that smaller classes foster a productive and positive learning environment.” A student coming from a liberal arts school has stronger written and oral communication skills simply because of the amount of critical thinking and participation necessary to do well in classes.
Sense of Community: Rural campuses foster a sense of community that is irreplaceable. A student has the chance to become closer to their peers, professors and even their administrators. While there might be more extracurricular opportunities at larger city schools, participation is higher in student organizations on rural campuses because of the confidence an on-campus community can stimulate. Employers want a college grad for much more than just their academic achievements. Students at rural schools are extraordinarily involved in community building, crisis management and organization through student activities.
College should be more than just a step in life to get a job. A high school graduate should go to college to expand their mind and horizons, making moves outside of their comfort zones every day. Urban and rural schools both have serious, but different advantages in a young adults’ career trajectory. Neither location is better than the other, but there is a reason “the bucolic New England village with tree-lined quads” continues to embrace the titles of best schools in the nation.