When looking at colleges, it’s important to know where you want it to be, and often that means asking yourself what kind of environment you are used to or like. I grew up in Columbus, Ohio, which is a pretty big city. So, I knew that when I was looking at colleges, I wanted my campus to be in a city rather than a small college town. Columbia is a capitol city and has plenty to do, so it was a good fit.
Note what size university you want to attend based on population and campus size! Each school I applied to had an undergraduate student population of about 25,000. I also compared the acres per campus because I wanted to have a more compact, walkable campus. The University of South Carolina is the perfect size for me because I can easily walk it, run into at least five people I know every day, and yet still have so many people I don’t know at all (which I like hehe).
When I was touring colleges, I was really focused on what the dorms looked like. What I didn’t think too much about was where I’d live my other three years of college. When you are touring colleges, pay attention to where the upper classmen live and if there are several affordable options. Do you like living in a high-rise apartment or prefer a university where students mainly live in houses? At USC we have both off-campus options, but many people opt for the apartments with fun pools and amenities.
Meal Plans and Food Options
This is a big one! I gave almost no consideration to the meal plans because I assumed they would all be pretty standard, but it turns out each university is different. Pay attention to how many all-you-can-eat dining halls there are, what the food court offers in the student union and where you can find healthy options. USC has over 46 dining options on campus!
Here are a few questions to ask yourself: Is the surrounding area safe? Do you feel comfortable walking around? How close is the nearest grocery store? If you don’t have a car on campus, how will you get there? What kind of entertainment is nearby? If you are a road trip person, are you close to the beach? Or the mountains? Or a bigger city?
My favorite thing about the University of South Carolina is that it is a short drive from several fun destinations!
Are you a sports fanatic? I grew up near Ohio State University, so sports have always been an important activity for my community and I looked for something similar when choosing my college. I absolutely love the excitement on campus that surrounds gamedays whether that be football, basketball, baseball, hockey or any other sport!
Library and Student Union
What is the library like at the University? Do you feel like you could see yourself studying there? Does it have good resources? Does the school host a lot of fun events?
The Thomas Cooper Library and Russel House Student Union are right next to each other which is perfect for when you need a snack or change of environment while studying. I personally like to study on the second and third floor of the Russel House because I love the lighting the big windows provide.
Will you be going to a University in the same city or state where you live? Will you bring a car to campus? If you are going further out of state like me, will you drive or fly? How much is it to fly? Is it a direct flight? Be sure to think about these things!
I have a car on campus because I live in off-campus housing, but I didn’t need one as a freshman. At the beginning of the school year, I made the nine-hour drive to South Carolina, but then flew whenever I would go home for a short weekend visit. But don’t worry – if you do want to bring your car to campus as a freshman, you have that option!
The energy that the university carries will not lie! What vibe did you get when you visited? Did you feel comfortable?
When I visited campus, I instantly felt comfortable. It was 75 degrees and sunny in February on the day of my tour, and students were scattered across the Horseshoe hammocking, doing homework and playing spike ball. Everyone seemed genuinely happy to be there and when I pulled aside a student to ask them some questions, they confirmed my suspicion. During the whole tour I was grinning from ear to ear, and my mom knew that this was the college for me.
I know that not everyone gets that “home” feeling right away on a campus tour, but my hope is that when you visit of the University of South Carolina, you can picture a life here.
I may be biased, but I believe USC checks all of the boxes!