Scotch Plains-Fanwood alumni rethink college decisions

by Tessa Mitterhoff and
Allison Caramico
Many seniors choose to attend a college based on a description in a book, a ranking, or a day-long visit. Some alumni share their experiences of realizing that the school they chose was not what they expected it to be.
One of the main factors for seniors while choosing a school is the type of campus. Julia Babis, ‘11, originally enrolled in Fordham University, Lincoln Center.
“When I was first considering schools, I thought I didn’t want the traditional college experience… I didn’t want the football games or the frat parties, so I applied to mostly city schools,” said Babis. After spending the fall semester at Lincoln Center, Babis changed her mind and transferred  to the State University of New York at New Paltz.
“Fordham was in the middle of Manhattan, on 60th and Broadway, which is an extremely expensive, classy area… It is not made for college students to live in.  You walk out the door and you’re surrounded by people much older than you, in suits, walking to work,” said Babis.
Conversely, she said that New Paltz is fit for college students. “There are student discounts everywhere you go and a lot of inhabitants of New Paltz are young,” said Babis. “There are no parents, no adults, just young people trying to make friends.”
Babis values the close-knit community of the small campus. “I believe that everyone wants that college experience, and missing out on it is something you’ll always regret,” said Babis. “Even if a student thinks he doesn’t want a traditional college, or doesn’t want to attend college, I think everyone wants to be a part of a college community, at least for a little while, just to experience it.”
Sara Mankoff, class of ‘10, was also unhappy with her school, but for a different reason: the size.   “Campus size is definitely important. I’m at a very small school right now and realizing I probably should have looked into slightly bigger campuses,” said Mankoff. Mankoff also believes choosing a school with a good program for your interest and possible majors is extremely important.
Distance from home is often another factor taken into consideration when choosing a college, along with climate, and cultural differences. Emily Weinstock, ‘10, first felt that the University of Charleston in South Carolina would be a great fit for her because it was warm, relatively small, and close to the beach. After a while though, she realized that it was quite difficult to be so far away from New Jersey.
“I did not take into account how much I would miss home… I also realized that the warm weather isn’t everything,” she said.
Additionally, attending a school in the south can result in a “culture shock.” Weinstock noticed that people chose to dress formally to class every day and everyone seemed very proper. “I could not deal with the Southern way of life,” she said. Weinstock now attends Rutgers University, a school much closer to home.