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Posted at 11:08 AM ET, 01/ 3/2011

Preparing for college life in the big city

By Jenna Johnson
Jenna Johnson

Today's guest blogger is Valerie Roder, a senior at Marymount Manhattan College who is studying English and creative writing.

Originally from Minneapolis, I came to "the big city" to attend college with high expectations and what I thought was a perfectly mapped-out plan for my future.

DSC_0021.jpgNew York is like no other city in the world, as it has many great networking opportunities, including internships and schools with well-rounded faculty equipped with experience working in their field of expertise.

I encourage those considering going to school in a large city to take comfort in knowing they are not alone; thousands of students do it every year, and the rewards are so much greater than any risks. First and foremost, remember that you'll never know if you will like something new if you don't try it; you just might regret not taking the chance to move somewhere new and exciting and college is a great time to do that.

Making the move to a new city, especially one as large and intimidating as New York, requires some research. It's important to learn about the area surrounding the school and the place where you will be living so you can be as safe and comfortable as possible. Do some research on the Internet, talk to friends and/or family members that are familiar with the city, and read books on the area.

You can also acquire a lot of helpful information about both school and your surroundings through the college's Web site or by calling the office of admissions. Blogs and Web reviews are another great way to find out about fun and exciting things to do that will help you acclimate to the city. I also suggest learning about student discounts offered throughout the city. Museums, restaurants and movie theaters are just a few places that offer student discounts. Remember to inquire about weather conditions so you can be sure to be prepared for the regular conditions in your area.

While it's important to know where the locations of your school, job and apartment, don't plan too much. Remember that half the fun of changing locations is exploring it on your own; travel books can only take you so far, and new residents have a great opportunity to dive into their city at their own pace and enjoy the unique aspects it has to offer. Although it is often seen as a boring requirement, orientation week is a great way to adapt not only to your new school, but also to your new city. Living in student housing is an excellent way to meet tons of people who you can explore the city with, and you might even meet some lifelong friends along the way!

The best piece of advice I can offer to those interested in furthering their education in a big city is to take a chance. Creating your own path can be a little scary at first, but you might be surprised to see where each brick leads you. Just remember to always be safe, and never be afraid to ask questions. Your school adviser, employees of student services, resident advisers and other college representatives are there to help you. Be productive and open to the many opportunities in your new city. You'll be surprised how many find their way to you after you make your way to whichever "big city" calls your name.

As for my journey to New York, I chose Marymount Manhattan College after researching many well-rounded, liberal arts colleges in New York City. As I finish up my senior year, I am proud of my decision to move so far away from home, and am grateful for the opportunities both the college and New York City have presented me.

Do you have questions about dorm life, admissions, studying for finals or anything else college related? Join my weekly online chat, Campus Overload Live, Thursdays at 1 p.m.

Campus Overload is a daily must-read for all college students. Make sure to bookmark http://washingtonpost.com/campus-overload. You can also follow me on Twitter and fan Campus Overload on Facebook.

By Jenna Johnson  | January 3, 2011; 11:08 AM ET
Categories:  Admissions  | Tags:  Marymount Manhattan College  
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