For the benefit of high school students embarked on their college quest, NeXt provides this review of some SUNY and private schools. Reviews are of schools attended by NeXt correspondents.
GENESEO STATE COLLEGE
Student: Mari Rogers High School: Williamsville North Major: English Undergrads: 5,358 Students who would fit in well: If you're looking for a school that will open your mind to new ideas, this is the place.
Class size: Except for one lecture hall art history class of 100-plus students, my classes have about 25 people.
Why I chose this school: I was looking for a school that had a good academic reputation without the private school price. I wanted to be close to home, but not so close that I would be able to come back every weekend. Pros: Many of the classes have made me think about things in ways that I never did before, and the professors here are usually really nice and willing to help you out.
Cons: Many freshman residence halls are located farther away, which can be frustrating on cold days. Being located in a very rural area also can have its drawbacks on weekends if you want to get off campus. If you're really into football games, you're out of luck; there's no team here.
Food: Red Jacket Dining Hall, the main dining facility for many freshmen, offers a wide array of different foods buffet-style every day. My favorite is the Books n' Bytes cafe in the library.
Social life: If you keep your dorm room open to anyone passing by, you'll probably meet people and make friends relatively quickly. There are several fraternities and sororities. The school promotes "late knight" activities on the weekend, such as "midknight movies" and "midknight bowling."
Nearby town: Geneseo is a mainly rural area; there is a charming village street right next to campus with shops and good pizza places. Rochester is about half an hour away, with free bus service from school.
Class selection: A wide variety (including a Harry Potter class this semester). As a freshman it is often hard to get in all the classes you want to take.
Classes I'm taking: Art history: prehistoric to gothic; The Practice of Criticism, INTD Writing Seminar, "Native American Voices", Native Voice: the African Diaspora (anthropology)
ONEONTA STATE COLLEGE
Student: Brianne Galli High School: Sweet Home Major: Mass Communications and Music Industry Undergrads: 5,500
Students who would fit in well: Those looking for a smaller, teacher-oriented campus and want to get involved in a wide range of activities and programs.
Students who might not like this school: Those who don't want the same sort of intimacy found in a high school environment.
Class size: Ranges from about 20 in my Intro to Communication class to over 100 in General Biology.
Why I chose this school: I wanted a smaller school. I want to go into music journalism so a dual-major in Mass Communications and Music Industry would give me more than enough background to do so. I wanted to continue playing field hockey and the Division III program here was ambitious but wouldn't overly conflict with school work.
Pros: Small class sizes, beautiful location, professors are readily available
Cons: The campus has a lot of hills, it gets hit hard by snow, limited parking for students
Food: Wilsbach Hall has basic grilled cheese, fries, and burgers every day along with a soup and salad bar and sandwich station and an International Bar. Mills Hall has Chinese food, Mexican food, wraps, salads, a sub shop and convenience store.
Social Life: College Union Activities Council has activities almost every night and puts on concerts. Hunt Union plays a new movie every weekend for free. Sports teams play weekdays and weekends. Poetry slams and plays.
Nearby Town: The city of Oneonta is small but has a lot to offer from the famous Brook's Barbecue to a farmers market on weekends. Class selection: Wide variety.
Classes I'm taking: Music and the Marketplace, Introduction to Communication, Understanding Mass Communication, The Making of the Modern World, and Biology.
Activities: Field Hockey, Music Industry Club, Twelve Bar News, Rock to Cure.
Student: Kristy Kibler High School: Attica Major: Journalism/mass communication Undergrads: 2,200
Students Who Would Fit in Well: Anyone who likes personal attention in classes and a tight-knit, friendly atmosphere.
Students who might not like this school: Anyone looking for a bigcity atmosphere or who wants anonymity in classes or on campus.
Class Sizes: It ranges from 15 students in my Arabic class to about 40 in University 101 (a required freshman course).
Why I chose this school: Its journalism school is one of the best in the country. I also was drawn to the study-abroad opportunities, friendly student body, and beautiful campus.
Pros: Everyone does their best to make sure that everyone else feels at home and happy. Athletic teams and facilities are amazing.
Cons: Sometimes the small classes and number of undergrads can lend itself to a high school-like atmosphere. Winters can be brutal if you're not used to WNY weather.
Food: It's not as bad as everyone says! The Hickey Dining Hall had a major overhaul a couple years ago and now offers everything from a Mongolian stirfry station, a Coldstone Creamery-style ice cream bar, a Vegan/Vegetarian menu, and make-your-own salad and sub stations.
Social Life: There are a ton of off-campus parties pretty much every night from Thursday through Sunday. There's always some kind of comedy or music act going on, pool tables and bigscreen TVs in the Rathskeller and of course Bonnies basketball games.
Nearby Towns: There's a movie theater, a few restaurants, a Walmart, a shopping plaza, and a few bars. Buffalo is about an hour and a half away.
Class Selection: If you plan it correctly, you can have a pretty interesting four years. There are required core classes, "Clare Courses," that everyone has to take.
My Classes: Statistics, Intro to the Mass Media, Composition and Critical Thinking, the Intellectual Journey (a Clare Course) University 101, and Arabic
Activities: I write for the weekly newspaper, and am part of the promotions team for 88.3 The Buzz college radio station.
Students: Matt Biddle (West Seneca) and Christine Pearl (Lakeshore) Major: Journalism Undergrads: 6,260
Student Who Would Fit In Well: Liberal, open-minded students who enjoy the atmosphere of a medium-size town.
Student who might not like this school: Conservative students who are unwilling to walk up the campus' many hills and stairs.
Class Sizes: 15 people in our major class, Intro to Journalism, ranging to 140 students in a psychology lecture.
Why We Chose This School: We loved the Park School of Communications and the picturesque campus.
Pros: Sports are important but don't dominate the campus. Strong music and theater programs allow you to get involved without being a music major. You will definitely take classes in your major your first semester. The Park School offers great opportunities to students to study and intern in L.A. and Washington D.C.
Cons: Students need to pay for cable, high-speed Internet, and mini-fridge rentals, in addition to high tuition costs. Extreme weather conditions bother kids from other parts of the country.
Food: Three main dining halls offer a variety of food, including pizza, pasta, a salad bar, sandwich bar, and a main course selection. Downtown has a variety of ethnic restaurants.
Classes: Both of us are taking Intro to Journalism, Intro to Mass Media, and Ithaca Seminar: U.S. Politics - Democracy or Deception? Matt takes Intro to American Literature and French 202. Christine takes Spanish 201 and Psychology of Adjustment.
Activities: We are both members of Colleges Against Cancer and "The Ithacan," the school newspaper. Christine is a member of IC Feminists; Matt is in "Buzzsaw Haircut," the school's alternative magazine, and ICTV.
UNIVERSITY OF ROCHESTER
Student: Margaret Zupa High School: Nardin Undergrads: 4,904; 495 at Eastman School of Music Major: Health and Society, Pre-med
Class Size: Ranges from about 300 in Chemistry lecture class, to 40 in Medical Anthropology. Upper level and more specialized classes are much smaller with about 10 to 20 students.
Students who would fit in well: Students who are highly self-motivated and wish to explore many new interests in college, while being open-minded and meeting people who come from very diverse backgrounds.
Students who might not like this school: If you are looking for a less rigorous academic experience in college or require teachers to be on your back about handing assignments in, this is not the place for you.
Why I chose this school: It is the perfect size for me, with the opportunities of a huge research university, and the personal advising and approachable professors of a small liberal arts college. The wide range of classes allows me to fulfill required courses for med school while exploring my interests in humanities, social sciences, and the arts.
Class selection: While UR tends to be known for its strength in sciences, there is a huge variety of classes in all disciplines.
Pros: There is a huge variety of fascinating clubs and organizations to join; a beautiful and relatively small campus that is easy to get around; and the Eastman School of Music, which offers free concerts.
Cons: It is pretty academically challenging, the tuition is fairly high, and intro level classes are rather large at first (recitations break classes into groups of about 12 to work with a teaching assistant).
Food: The food is fairly good, with a wide variety of healthy options from salad bars, a vegan food station, many vegetarian options, and even sushi. We have the state's largest Starbucks on campus.
Social life: There is always something fun going on on campus, whether you prefer to attend the parties on the Fraternity Quad on Friday and Saturday nights, or take in a movie in one of the giant lecture halls. They also run buses to many off-campus events around the city, such as plays downtown, Rochester Americans hockey games, etc.
Nearby Town: UR is located in the City of Rochester, so it is fairly close to the fun shopping districts and different cultural experiences the city has to offer, along with the nightlife of downtown Rochester.
Courses I am Taking: Biology 110, Chemistry 131 (required for pre-med), Math 162 (Calculus II), Anthropology 102 (Introduction to Medical Anthropology)
Activities: Copy editing for The Campus Times newspaper, mentoring youth in public schools, Charles Drew Pre-Health Society, Newman Community, Swing Dancing Club.
Student: Caitlin Dewey High School: Sacred Heart Academy
Major: International Relations, Magazine Journalism Undergrads: 12,000
Student who would fit in well: Anyone fits in here, and anyone can find a niche. Of course, this requires that you embrace a really diverse environment, keep an open mind, and drive yourself to find where you belong.
Student who might not like this school: Students who were really sheltered in high school tend to suffer here. While there are a lot of advising and support services, you have to be willing to make your own way, and you can't be intimidated by the school's size.
Class Size: My smallest class is a discussion with about 12 students; my largest lecture has about 60 students. Some survey classes run much larger.
Why I chose this school: Coming from a relatively small town and fairly cloistered high school, I really wanted the worldly college experience. Syracuse offers all the diversity and opportunity I could have imagined, and it's less than three hours from home; I can meet people from all over the world, encounter a thousand new viewpoints and perspectives, participate in every type of club and activity, and still go home on the occasional weekend. I was also lured by the reputation of the journalism program.
Pros: You will never, ever be bored at SU.
Cons: Both the weather and the tuition here are a little bit ridiculous. The advising process is difficult to navigate, and I have to climb 132 steps just to get up the hill to my dorm.
Food: Everything is edible, but the food repeats a lot and some of the dishes are definitely sketchy. There are several good, affordable restaurants on Marshall Street, a block from campus, and chains like Sbarro's and Dunkin Donuts in the Kimmel Food Court and Schine Student Center. Best of all, there's a non-profit coffee shop in the basement of Hendricks Chapel, where, for about 50 cents, you can get both really good coffee and a quiet study space.
Social Life: Freshman socialites will never tire of our vibrant party scene (unless, of course, they wear high heels) and many students attend football games and performances on the weekend, as well. The Carousel Mall is, hands down, the destination of choice. I'm a big fan of free yoga classes on Saturday nights and free weekend movie screenings in Gifford Auditorium.
Nearby town: People who think Buffalo lacks culture or nightlife clearly have never been to Syracuse. There are a few museums, shops and restaurants downtown, but don't get your hopes up. In Syracuse, Wegmans is considered a destination.
Class Selection:There are a million really fascinating classes to choose from.
Classes I'm taking: Intro to Mass Communications, Intro to International Relations, Spanish 3, Tolstoy and Dostoevsky, Honors Seminar.
List of activities: Debate Team, Jerk Magazine
JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY ( Baltimore, Md.)
Student: Natalie Berkman High School: Clarence Major: Undecided Undergrads: 4,400 Student who would fit in well: An academically strong student with a desire to learn would fit in well here. While Johns Hopkins is most famous for its pre-med program and med school, not everyone here wants to be a doctor and the other departments are all incredible as well.
Student who might not like this school: If a student is just looking for college as an excuse to socialize, this isn't the best place. To succeed in your studies, you need to work hard.
Class Size: My only really large class is Physics 101, which is a 300-person lecture. My French and Writing classes both have around 15 students.
Why I chose this school: I wanted to go to an academically challenging school with a lot of opportunities. Johns Hopkins Homewood campus is in the middle of Baltimore, but doesn't seem as though you're in a major city. I also wanted a school with music opportunities, and the Peabody Conservatory is part of Johns Hopkins. The campus is beautiful.
Pros: This is one of the nation's top research universities. As a result, there are a lot of opportunities for research and studying abroad. Being in the middle of Baltimore adds opportunities for education and fun. There are people from all over the world - I've made friends from Monaco, Germany, France, Jamaica, and all over the United States. I had heard it was competitive here, but that doesn't seem to be the case at all.
Cons: The academics are difficult, but that could be seen as a pro to someone who likes a challenge. You will have to spend time studying if you want to do well, and if you're used to getting great grades in high school, don't be overwhelmed if you can't do just as well right away.
Food: Johns Hopkins used to be known for its bad food, but it's improved greatly in the last few years. I enjoy the variety at the Fresh Food Cafe. There are restaurants around the campus that accept "J-cash," the way students can pay with ID cards.
Social Life: There are fraternity parties all the time, plus a ton of clubs and organizations that have activities for everyone. They show movies in the quad every week, there are shows and concerts, guest speakers and much more.
Nearby town: Baltimore is a thriving city that is filled with plenty of things to do. A shuttle takes students to a nearby town called Towson. There's a huge mall with a movie theater and nice restaurants that are all just a short bus ride or walk away.
Class Selection: Johns Hopkins is smaller than many schools, and the class selection somewhat reflects that, but there are a ton of classes to take in all areas of academic interests. There are also opportunities to take music lessons at the Peabody Conservatory for credit and to study abroad.
Courses I'm taking: Physics 101, Honors Multivariable Calculus, Introduction to Fiction and Poetry, Intermediate French, and Minor Flute Lessons at Peabody
My Activities: Wind Ensemble, Flute Choir, Chamber Orchestra, Entertainers Club (including fire twirling!), Newspaper, DDR Club, and the Refugee Youth Project (I tutor elementary school refugee kids from Turkey)
UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND, COLLEGE PARK
Student: Ryan Brown High School: Clarence Undergrads: 25,000 Activities: Crew Team My Classes: Oral Communications, Elementary Calculus, The Student in the University, Intro to Writing, Microeconomics.
Many people say choosing a college is a big decision, but I've learned the decisions made while at college are just as important. The University of Maryland has everything, and it's a common saying around here that if we don't offer it, you can make it. This refers to starting a club or creating your own major, like famous alumnus Jim Henson creating his puppeteering major.
At a big university, there are some easy tricks to meeting people, but usually, it just happens naturally. One way my roommate and I met a lot of people was by leaving the room door open and saying hi as people walked by. It's hard to meet people in classes because most are so large (200 to 350 students). I joined the crew team a couple weeks into school and that really helped me meet upperclassmen and find a close-knit group of people.
The University of Maryland has general education requirements that all students must complete, called CORE classes. While this seemed unappealing, it now makes a little more sense. Many CORE courses fill major or department requirements so sophomores and juniors can easily change their majors and still graduate on time, something all parents and students paying their own tuition love.
The Food: Most students try to avoid the dining halls, although the town surrounding campus has surely made up for it with a variety of local restaurants and many restaurants allowing orders online.
Nearby town: Washington, D.C. and Baltimore are minutes from campus.
Next Week: College commuters talk about the pros and cons.