Balancing your life at a rural college

July 26, 2012

While scenic mountain vistas and pastoral walks to class aren't everyone's idea of a good time, the rural college experience has a lot to offer. Whether you're rooted in the mountains of Vermont, the quiet vastness of middle Ohio or a sleepy Colorado college town, America is filled with a variety of natural landscapes, and each one befits a college just as well as the modern cityscape.

But despite all the fresh air and communing with nature, rural schools can be difficult places to spend full semesters at a time. When a college's surroundings are limited to hiking trails and small towns, campus life can begin to be a bit too insular. If you're feeling the pressure of living in a bubble, you'll want to keep a few of these coping methods in mind.

1. Maintain a good relationship with the town. Unlike cities where a school and its students can blend into the metropolitan background, you're likely to stand out as a college kid when you're in town. Be a good ambassador and act respectfully - you may even find yourself making friends, whether it's with your barista or car mechanic.

2. Take up walking/jogging/hiking. You won't always have these views at your back door, and the best way to take advantage of it now is also a great way to get a bit more exercise (which in turn will galvanize the endorphins and sharpen your brain).

3. Get away. As rural schools tend to be small, you'll occasionally need to escape from more than just the same landscapes and classrooms. Seeing the same people day in and out - as much as you may adore them - is exhausting. Take a car, hop a bus, grab a train and head somewhere different, like the nearest city! If you need a quick fix, go to a movie alone.

4. Apply for scholarships. While you won't be paying New York City rent or dropping five dollars on a cup of coffee, you shouldn't take on undue debt. Applying for scholarships can net you a variety of financial assistance for everything from buying textbooks to tuition assistance each semester. High school students and undergraduates looking for tips for college should start with scholarship applications.

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