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After a $120 Uber ride to airport (surge rate???), two cancelled flights, 6 hours waiting to de-ice and take-off only to return to gate, and an unplanned hotel stay in Long Island- I thought about the importance of visiting colleges during winter. Students often have starry-eyed ideas of college life in a city like NY. After all, they have seen Gossip Girl. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for students attending urban and/or cold weather colleges. I just think they need to consider the good, the bad and the ugly before applying to a school.

While in NY, I not only had the opportunity to tour NYU and Fordham-Lincoln Center, but to meet up with three former clients of mine. One is a NYU dance grad. She attended American Ballet Theater summer program in NY as a high school student and was comfortable taking the subway and being independent. She also thrived on the cultural opportunities of the city. She is now a sought-after street artist (google London Kaye) and lives in Brooklyn. The second student toured Boston colleges while in high school but hated the idea of taking the “T”. She ended up attending Hampshire and is now an aspiring writer, also living in Brooklyn. The third recently moved to NY for a role in her first off Broadway (only 1 block off as she puts it) play.  She visited NY city colleges in high school and enjoyed them, but felt the pace of the city was a little much. She majored in theatre at UC Santa Barbara, is a recent grad and has been a working actress since graduation.

My point is two-fold:
1) Moving away from home is a big step, and compounding it by having to acclimate to a new environment is beyond the comfort and/or maturity level of many students.
2) There is more than one path to a goal- All three of my students strived to be working artists, they all visited urban colleges, they all chose colleges where they could thrive, and all ultimately ended up living and working within 20 minutes of each other.

Taking the time to visit colleges can be difficult and expensive, but nothing can replace finding out if a school truly is, or isn’t, an environment where a student can thrive.

By Shan Schumacher