Going to College In A Big City: The Good & The Bad

It’s that time of year again where high school students are starting to think about life after high school. A lot of students already have their mind made up of where they would like to attend college, while many students will be visiting multiple campuses to see which one fits best for them.


I finished my undergraduate degree, and in three weeks, I will walk the stage, and my college career will officially be behind me.

With all of the schools in the country (and the world), it can be hard to decide what is “right” for you. I chose a school in the heart of downtown Chicago, so I am here to talk about the pros and cons of going to a city school.

The Good.

The fast life.

Going to school in the city means you will most likely never be bored for too long. There are endless activities to take advantage of. Concerts, fests, museums, and nightlife are just a few of the city luxuries. The other good thing is that many museums in the city will either be free during certain times of the year, or either you will get a discount for having a student ID. The nice thing about all of this for me was the fact that public transportation fees were included in our tuition. So whenever I wanted to go somewhere, I could hop on the bus or the train and swipe my UPass for “free.” If public transportation isn’t your thing, Uber rides will be super cheap since you aren’t driving far to get from point A to point B.

“The City is Our Classroom.”

That’s my school’s motto, and it is so true. We have a campus right downtown, and our main campus is on the North Side of the city, about 10 minutes away by train. Since I was in the communications school, most of my classes were downtown, right in the midst of everything from working professionals to tourists. It was nice because our class lessons expanded beyond the classroom. One of my professors is a producer at CBS, so we took a field trip to the station, met the anchors, and watched them report live.

In some of my journalism classes, we would go out and about during class to get interviews from random people walking down the street, or to get pictures and video footage. It was actually a lot of fun because we got real world experiences during class instead of being taught something for 90 minutes and then left to figure out the rest on our own after class.

Lots of Internship Options.

I believe most schools are like this nowadays, but my school made it a requirement for us to have at least one internship during undergrad. Being in a city made the internship hunt a lot easier because there are SO many options here. During school I had a music journalism internship and an internship at a TV station, which allowed me to go out in the field with a reporter (during the time the Cubs won the World Series, so imagine how cool that was!). Once I finished school, I was able to have an internship at another TV station. I got to meet a lot of interesting people, I learned a lot, and of course, it looks great on my resume.

The Bad.

Not Your Typical “Campus” Life.

One of the downsides to going to school in the city is that campus life is different than it would be at a large State school. We had sports (except football which was a huge let down for me), but unlike State schools, sports wasn’t the highlight of our school. Greek life wasn’t big at my school. We had a decent amount of fraternities and sororities, but again, they weren’t the highlight of our school. A lot of students at my school commute, so on weekends it got pretty dead on campus because most people went home.

Very Independent. Everyone Stays to Themselves.

This can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on the type of person you are. I had expectations of going away to college and meeting my lifelong friends, since people say you meet your forever friends in college. Not really the case for me. I had nothing but horrible roommate experiences (which will probably be another blog post in itself), and I was never able to make friends that I could hang out with outside of class.

As I mentioned before, many students spent weekends at home in the suburbs, but many students also lived in their own apartments off campus. Everyone pretty much just came on campus for classes and then that was it. No interest in really making friends. It was hard for me at first, but once I moved off campus into my own apartment, I was much happier.

You Can Easily Feel Alone.

Moving from home to a big city can be a huge adjustment for anybody, especially if you are like me. Growing up overseas on a military base, I just feel I’m so different than students who went to school in the states. Going to school on base, everyone was so open and welcoming, because being the “new kid” was something that everyone could relate to. Chicago being the third largest city in the country, you can imagine how I felt like a small fish in a big pond. 

I’m a very shy person, and I often felt like my efforts to meet people didn’t go anywhere. Now that I’m out of school, I still feel alone sometimes, but after being here for about two years, my personality has changed a lot. I’m a lot more outgoing, and I find ways to enjoy life without feeling alone.

Choosing a home away from home for the first time at 18 years old can be hard, and even if you tour various colleges, nothing can prepare you for life away from home until you are fully immersed in all aspects of it. Use your best judgement, think about yourself as a person and what environment you think you’d feel comfortable in. No matter where you end up going to college, your experiences will ultimately depend on you and how you chose to spend the next four years of your life!

Published by Sheree Shante


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