Throughout my high school career I have always dreaded the day that I would be forced to determine my future by choosing the 'perfect' college. Like many students who have gone before me, I was petrified of the daunting task of searching through schools. I put off the task as long as I could, always with the muttered thought, "I still have time."
Now I'm halfway through my junior year, and the fact is I don't have any more time.
So here is where I begin my tale of colleges, tours, and the endless stream of information that will affect the choice that will ultimately control my future-college.
John Carroll University
Because my high school is a college prep school, the guidance department set up field trips to colleges for the entire junior class. The first school we visited was John Carroll, a small Catholic university. My initial impression was bleak, however much of that had to do with the weather. It was cloudy and raining, making the school look much grayer than it was in reality.
The campus was small and enclosed, mostly consisting of a few main academic buildings clustered around a "quad" or giant courtyard. The outsides of most of the buildings were somewhat gothic, and the entrance to the campus was guarded by a large gate.
The school has great academics for science, math, and medicine, but little to show in the ways of art and creative writing, which were my interests. I didn't like the school much at all upon first impression, but on a later return to the campus I found out that it had a simple charm when viewed through the eyes of a student.
The dorm rooms were pretty standard for a college; two people to a room, each with a bed, armoire, a desk, and a dresser. I soon found out that certain items are banned from dorm rooms, such as toaster ovens and extension cords, which are common at most colleges to avoid fire hazards.
It is a great school for those who are interested in math and science and would be more comfortable at a small school. From the glimpses I got of the student life, it is a closely knit community of interesting people. The campus is small but picturesque, with trees and grass to make it seem like home, and is located in a more residential area than a cityscape, although it is only minutes away from downtown Cleveland.
John Carroll University:
School Size: Around 3,600 students
Location: Cleveland, Ohio
Tuition: Approx. $30,250
Average ACT acceptance: 25
Average GPA acceptance: 3.53
Student retention rate: 86%
Cleveland State University
The same day I visited John Carroll for the first time, I also was privy to get a glimpse of life at Cleveland State University, a large state school that was the polar opposite of John Carroll.
The campus stretched off for blocks in the heart of downtown Cleveland, bustling with traffic and thousands of students. The huge school had just about every major anyone could ever imagine, state of the art facilities, and hundreds upon hundreds of classrooms.
They had a massive work out gym with hundreds of machines, an indoor swimming pool, an indoor suspended track for walking and running, and multiple eating facilities on campus. Most of the school's many buildings were connected by one long hallway that students could use in place of walking outside.
The dorm rooms that we were shown on our tour were literally in a tower that stretched to the sky. The mock rooms were spacious and included the standard bed, desk, and dresser.
Overall the school was amazing, but far too urban for me. It's a better school for someone who wants to live in the city. As for me, I'd rather have trees and grass in place of concrete. It's also a very big school, with large classes, which could be a shock for a student coming from a small high school.
Cleveland State University:
School Size: About 17,300 students
Location: Cleveland, Ohio
Tuition: Approx. $8,500-$11,000
Average ACT acceptance: 20
Average GPA acceptance: 2.97
Student retention rate: 64%
A few weeks later, the school set up another college trip for the junior class, this time heading east. We took a bus up to Duquesne; a medium sized Catholic University that sat above Pittsburgh, overlooking the Monongahela River. The campus was secluded from the city though it was right next to it, like its own little world.
The school only had a small field for soccer and football, but had two sports gyms and a workout area. Many of the buildings were connected by indoor and outdoor skywalks that threaded above traffic. The campus itself was built on a series of hills, like most of the places around Pittsburgh.
There was grass and trees and large sections of walkway that had been bricked in, creating a good balance of nature and urban. The dorms came in a variety, as at most schools, and the freshman usually got the smallest ones. Upperclassmen could choose where they wanted to live, often getting better rooms than the underclassmen. At Duquesne freshmen weren't allowed to have cars, unlike John Carroll where cars were allowed but freshmen often had to park far away. Freshmen were also required to live on campus.
As for the majors, Duquesne supports a wide variety of interests from Accounting to Biochemistry, to Ethics, Law and Music.
I rather liked the school, but was at a loss on several points. First of all, the multitude of hills proved to be hard walking just for our one day trip. Secondly, it was still too close to the city for me. And thirdly, even with the long list of majors that the school offered, I still couldn't find anything for film or cinematography, which was my main interest. It is a good school, though, for anyone in search of a good education who doesn't mind a little bit of city life.
School Size: About 10,100 students
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Tuition: Approx. $27,000
Average ACT acceptance: 24
Average GPA acceptance: 3.57
Student retention rate: 83%