My twin brother and I don't know whether we want to go to college together. We toured 3 campuses to help us decide.
- I'm a high-school senior beginning the college-application process with my twin.
- We recently visited the University of Iowa, Grinnell College, and Drake University.
During the summer, my twin brother, Jake, and I wanted to line up college visits. At first, we had no clue where we wanted to go — maybe the East Coast, maybe the West Coast? Maybe we should stay close to home in Minneapolis?
For much of my life, I've done most things with my twin brother. We do the same activities, have the same hobbies, and enjoy the same things. But when it comes to college, we still have no idea whether we want to stay together. We'll probably end up applying to a similar list of schools. Even if we do go to the same school, we've already decided we won't live together.
To help us make these important decisions, my brother and I eventually decided to visit colleges in Iowa this summer since it was only a few hours away and we could see three schools in a few days.
Our first stop was the University of Iowa
I'm not necessarily new to the University of Iowa. My mom earned her degree there, and I visited Iowa City when I was younger. As I entered the city, it seemed familiar; it felt like the perfect college town. It had everything a college student would need: restaurants, coffee shops, and even a mini Target.
During our campus visit, we were greeted by a cutout of Herky — the university's mascot. I went to presentations about the social-sciences program, ate lunch in one of the dining halls, toured the campus, saw a dorm room, and learned about the honors program.
I really enjoyed the University of Iowa. Even though the university appeared big, the campus and city felt welcoming and easy to navigate. There was a strong sense of community.
My brother thought similarly. He enjoyed the atmosphere but struggled with the school's large size. Both of us are leaning toward a smaller school, but programs like the honors program would be helpful in creating that small community.
From there, we had a different tour experience at Grinnell College
After a fun time in Iowa City, we drove into Grinnell. At first, I was shocked. I honestly thought we were in the wrong place, given the small size of the town.
Our visit to Grinnell consisted of a short information session with a discussion mainly about financial aid and study-abroad programs.
Next, we toured the campus, but the school did something different. On all other college tours I've been on, we walked around the campus with our parents. Grinnell opted for a different approach: We were separated into students and parents.
I really liked the style Grinnell took to college. Its approach to the college experience — such as no Greek life and the use of faculty advisors — felt unique.
But at least as of now, I reassessed Grinnell on my list. Don't get me wrong, Grinnell is a great school, but I would prefer a larger city.
Last, we arrived at Drake University — the school I was most excited for
We then headed to Des Moines for Drake University, which excited me. I'm interested in politics and government, and Drake is known to offer a lot of opportunities for its students in those areas. Added bonus: It's in the capital of Iowa.
I loved that we had a private tour of the campus. During our tour, we saw newly renovated buildings, buildings under construction, and the remnants of an annual Drake tradition that allows for members of student organizations to paint the street.
After the tour, we talked to a faculty member from the political-science department. Jake and I were able to ask him about our field of interest, and we learned a lot about internships and other opportunities. It was extremely helpful.
I enjoyed my time at Drake. I gained valuable insight into the university, and the opportunities seemed limitless. I felt like a much more personal experience. Both my brother and I enjoyed this, and it fit well with our smaller-school preference.
Now, I'm gearing up to start applying to colleges
Of the three schools I visited, I enjoyed Drake the most. The combination of opportunities for students, the smaller-school feeling, and its location in a big city all fit well within my preferred criteria. My brother agrees.
Though we still don't know whether we'll end up at the same school, we now know we have similar college preferences. He felt Drake fit those preferences the best, too.
After visiting these colleges, the only one I wanted to reconsider was Grinnell. I'm glad I could see it, but it just wasn't for me — primarily because of the location.
I just began my senior year of high school a few weeks ago. College-application season is almost here, and, honestly, I'm quite nervous and stressed. It all seems so overwhelming, but I'm thankful for the resources I do have — such as my counselors, teachers, and parents — who will provide the guidance I need in this process.
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