Applying To College

College Essay Writing and Interview Skills


Best College Town – Ithaca, New York

Cornell University McGraw Tower.

Cornell University McGraw Tower.

I’m about to brag. Ithaca, New York was recently chosen Best College Town in the U.S.A.

Ranked by the American Institute for Economic Research, Ithaca (home to Cornell University and Ithaca College) was followed by Ames, Iowa (Iowa State University), and State College, PA (Penn State University).

I went to Cornell. My best friend Stephanie went to Ithaca College. The schools sit atop two hills that rise above the town of Ithaca – Cornell to the east and Ithaca to the south. When we arrived, much to our delight, we realized we could see each others’ dorm on the opposite hill. So, in a communications experiment of sorts, we tried blinking the lights in our rooms –  as much message to say, “Hello, can you see me?” as “I can’t believe we’re in Ithaca. Isn’t this going to be great?!”

And Ithaca was great. While the schools provide a diverse student population, it’s the town that’s the star. Over the years, Ithaca has managed to maintain a true sense of self. It’s relaxed, bohemian, and green. It overflows with farmers’ markets and food co-ops, theaters, restaurants, a no-cars-permitted Commons, and the ever-present opportunity to walk, hike, bike, sail, climb, and otherwise just inhale the joyous beauty of the Finger Lakes.

USA Today College  has written an article called “What Makes the Best College Towns?” Here’s the excerpt about Ithaca:

About 200 miles northwest of New York City lies Ithaca, home to Cornell University, Ithaca College and what Taylor Long calls “Idealistic Bohemians.”

“There’s a lot of culture and a lot of hip energy, but also this really earnest, small-town vibe,” said Long, who is a senior at Ithaca College. “People fall in love with this city. It’s the sort of place where your weird projects can thrive.”

The city is home to intellects, a Burlesque dance troupe, a newspaper that reports only positive news, an extensive farmers’ market and thousands of ambitious students. In fact, because of the town’s unique energy, The Dalai Lama and other Tibetan monks are frequent visitors.

Despite the eclectic mix of residents, the city’s party scene is fairly tame, another reason Long thinks the college town is unique.

“When I think of college towns, I do kind of think of Penn State or something like that where there’s a row of bars and a row of frats, and everyone is running around naked with their chests painted,” Long said. “I think [Ithaca] may be No. 1 because it is very unique and kind of is actually a college town, not just like a town dominated by one particular college.”

Go Ithaca.

sharon-epstein-college-essay-writing-and-interview-skillsSharon Epstein is owner of First Impressions College Consulting in Redding, Connecticut.
Need help? I work with students everywhere: in-person, over the phone, Skype, and by email. Visit my website for more info. Connect with me on Google+, Pinterest and Twitter:

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5 Questions to Ask Students on Your College Visit

Ask questions on college visits. Don’t just talk to adults — ask the students who go there.


Campus Tour at Cornell

Campus Tour at Cornell

1. You’re going to choose where you’ll spend the next four years of your life. It’s an important decision. Don’t choose a college because you “think you should go there” – choose it because you see yourself living – and thriving – there.

2. Many colleges require a “Why Do You Want to Go To Our School” essay when you apply. This is an important essay – one that could even determine if you get in. Ask good questions on your visit and you’ll be able to write an impressive answer when you apply.

USA TODAY College just published 5 Questions to Ask Current Students on Your College Visit. Check it out. The questions include asking about the best professors, what you can do in town, who to get to know, and what things to avoid. I’m sure you can think of a few of your own.

When you visit, find current students and ask questions. If you can see yourself becoming one of those students, it might just be the school for you.

related links:
“Why This College”: What Schools Want
5 Steps to a Great “Why This College” Essay

Part 3: “Why This College?” Essay Examples

sharon-epstein-college-essay-writing-and-interview-skillsSharon Epstein is owner of First Impressions College Consulting.
Need help? I work with students everywhere: in-person, over the phone, and by email. Visit my website for more info. Connect with me on Google+, Twitter and Pinterest:

follow Sharon Epstein on Twitterfollow Sharon Epstein on pinterest
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