Pros and Cons of Rural, Suburban and Urban Campuses

For many students, location is an important factor when choosing a college or university. Depending on your personality and goals, you may be more inclined toward a rural, urban or suburban campus.

Here are some of the pros and cons for each category:

Rural Colleges


Rural colleges might be surrounded by rolling mountains, lush forests or grassy pastures. Because these colleges typically have natural settings, they often attract outdoorsy students, including those interested in studying the environment. Some colleges to consider include Middlebury College, Bucknell University or Sewanee: The University of the South. Rural colleges sometimes offer more extensive environmental studies programs and hands-on research opportunities. Many rural colleges are smaller and encourage students to live on campus longer, fostering a close-knit student body.


Though a smaller student body might be perfect for some, many students might yearn for a wider range of diversity, both in their peers and in activities on and off campus. Rural colleges often are situated near small towns, which means opportunities for internships and community engagement are limited. Transportation also is something to consider, as you’ll likely need a car to get to campus.

Urban Colleges


Urban colleges are exciting options for students looking to assert their independence fresh out of high school. Colleges like New York University, University of California, Los Angeles and American University are situated right in the heart of major cities — New York, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., respectively. Students can frequent museums, art exhibits, restaurants and performances in their free time. Urban colleges usually have larger student bodies, too, with a lot of diversity. Students also can take advantage of countless opportunities, including internships, volunteering and community engagement.


The largest consideration for students considering urban college has to be money. Many are expensive.

Even responsible students will be tempted by endless things to see and do. As a result, living in a city as a student can be more difficult, especially for those who plan on working part-time to pay their tuition and housing. Urban colleges tend to lack a cohesive sense of community because their campuses are spread out and fewer students will live in dorms.

Suburban Colleges


Suburban colleges often are situated near medium-sized cities or in college towns, with locals living right alongside students. Suburban colleges tend to have more centralized campuses accessible easily by foot, though access to the surrounding area might still be restricted to those with cars.

Students at suburban colleges get the best of both worlds: they can pursue their interests both on campus and in the community at large. For entertainment and recreation, students can just as easily go to a concert or art gallery as they can drive to the mountains to go on a hike. Student bodies vary in size, offering greater diversity or a close-knit class, depending on your preference.


Like rural colleges, suburban colleges often encourage their students to own a car or have access to one, which can be expensive. College towns and smaller cities all have exciting things to offer, but that might not be enough for some students.

Before making a final decision, it’s important to visit the colleges you’re considering to see how you like them.