The Teacher is Talking: College Towns

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By Leslie Lindsay File:Dartmouth College campus 2007-10-20 09.JPG(image source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Dartmouth_College_campus_2007-10-20_09.JPG

I truly have a love for this time of year–the crisp fall days, the freshly sharpened pencils, eager students–and a love for college towns. 

Take away the college and you have a small town with not much ambience.  I know, I’ve lived in one–two, even (Columbia, MO and Northfield, MN).  With a college at the heart of the town, you get a whole new vibe, transforming a sleepy little town into an oasis of food, music, academia, culture, and more.  It’s fun and it’s always moving forward. 

So, why not introduce your children to the benefits of a college town (kudos if you already live in one)?   In fact, September is national “Save-for-College” month.  I recall my dad taking me to the campus where he got his undergrad degree.  I was awe-inspired with the size, the number of buidlings, and the science department.  The skeleton model dangled from a stainless steel pole, it’s mouth ajar in a bit of a creepy smile.  The smells, the labs…the possibility!  (Maybe this was ingrained in my 4-year old skull and thus, a career in pyschiatric nursing?). 

And so, many moons later, I went to nursing school at the University of Missouri-Columbia.  I loved it.  Well, the town.  (Nursing School wasn’t exactly my thing, but oh well–what do you know when you are 18?!  I finished school of course, and then spent the next 5 years working at the Mayo Clinic).  It’s the town I remember fondly when I look back on my college days…

Osage and Missouri Indiana first settled the area.  It was in 1821 that the town officially incorporated.  Columbia apparently had their eyes on making their town a college town from the beginning.  In fact, a place was saved for the university in the city plans.  By 1839, it was made a reality.  A total of three colleges/universities call CoMo “home”:  Stephens College, Columbia College, and the UofM.  Wikipedia reports that more than half of the 110,438+ residents hold college degrees, making it the 13th “most highly educated municipality in the U.S.” 

If you go: (to any college town): 

  • Remind your kiddos that college is important!  This may be the biggest lesson yet.  Show them where they can go to school, how college life is different than high school.  Don’t wait to visit college towns till your child is a junior in high school.  Make it a weekend trip for the family.  Who cares if your college-bound kiddo(s) is only 10? 
  • See if you can get a peek into a classroom.  An auditorium style classroom versus a smaller one.  A dorm?  A dining hall?  Head to the college bookstore. 

If you go to Columbia, MO: 

(UofMo-Columbia, quadrangle.  image source:http://www.evolvernetwork.org/columbia_mo/)

, yummy restaurants, music, coffee shops and more

  • Rock Bridge State Park where you can hike and take in the Devil’s Ice Box Cave
  • Biking and Hiking on the MKT trails (old railroad line)
  • Check out some university highlights as well:  The Ellis Library (also home to the State Historical Society)
  • The Quadrangle
  • Yummy food:  Addison’s, Shakespeare’s Pizza, Booches…

Other college towns worth mentioning:

Ann Arbor, MI.  Home of the University of Michigan.  Northfield, MN home of Carleton College and St. Olaf (small, but very good liberal arts colleges) And one of my favorites:  Madison, WI.  And the novel I working on is set (partially) in Athens, GA.  (image source: http://www.callboballen.com/about-athens/ 9.18.12) 

I know you all have your own opinions…so tell me, what college towns do you love??!

Class dismissed!

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