Anna Castonguay

Geneseo State College, Geneseo

High school: Hamburg

Major: Physics

Undergrads: 5,000

Classes you are taking: Calculus II, Analytical Physics, Chemistry, Introduction to Psychology

Class sizes: 15 to 125

Why did you choose this school? I chose to attend Geneseo because of its amazing reputation as one of the top SUNY schools, its wide liberal arts curriculum, and I really like the size of the school.

What type of student would not like this school? Anyone who does not take their schoolwork seriously would not like Geneseo.

Pros: The classes are small enough where you can have relationships with your professors, the scenery is beautiful, and the curriculum is challenging and worthwhile.

Cons: It is especially windy in Geneseo.

How's the food? For school food, the food at Geneseo is pretty decent, but, as it does on any campus, it can get repetitive.

Social life? Since Geneseo is a relatively small school, students here bond quickly, and since it is in a small town, students usually find ways to entertain themselves on campus.

Activities: There are so many clubs, sport teams and activities to get involved in at Geneseo, from the campus radio or television station to broomball or ultimate Frisbee teams.


Mary Best

St. Bonaventure University, Olean

High school: Alden

Major: Journalism/Mass Communication

Undergrads: 1,967

Classes you are taking: Intro to Mass Media, Intro to Theater, Composition and Critical Thinking, Intro to Statistics, Spanish and Skills for the Good Journey.

Class sizes: All of my classes, like every class at Bona, are small. Each of my classes has fewer than 30 students, except Composition and Critical Thinking, which is taught by two professors who combined classes, and there are still only about 50 students in that one!

Why did you choose this school? First of all, it has an excellent journalism program, and all of the professors are unbelievably passionate about writing and wanting to help their students succeed. From a financial standpoint, Bona gave me the best financial aid package as opposed to the four other schools that accepted me. But most importantly, I chose St. Bonaventure because it was the only college campus I set foot on that made me feel safe and at home. I could see myself not just living there but having the time of my life as well.

What type of student would not like this school? I think someone who doesn't like getting involved in extracurriculars would not like SBU. There are so many things to do here that everyone is involved in something, whether it be related to academics, athletics or recreation. If you never got involved, college would be a very boring experience.

Pros: One of the nice things about SBU is that it's close to home. I only live an hour and a half away from campus. Another thing that I really like about St. Bonaventure is its size. The campus is small enough that everything is within comfortable walking distance, plus there are tons of new people to meet! It isn't as big as a state school, but I come from a small town, so the size is perfect.

Cons: As bad as this sounds, the most annoying thing is probably dealing with the open houses. I have no problem with people visiting campus, and I will even show them around. I am just not a fan of the tour groups that filter through my dorm hallway while I am either brushing my teeth in my pajamas or trying to sleep in.

How's the food? The food here is really good. There are actually a lot of things that I eat here that I never ate at home (scrambled eggs). I have absolutely no problem eating Hickey (the name of the dining hall) food all the time, mainly because we have so many choices (all delicious!). The plethora of options also helps beat the "freshman 15." My favorite meal is Sunday brunch, mainly because they serve strawberry shortcake.

Social life? It's impossible not to have a social life in college. Even within the first hour of orientation, I made many friends that I felt like I had known for years. In college, everyone is the new kid, making it easier to relate to each other and be more open to new things. It's really cool to meet people from different places who not only share your interests but also will introduce you to new ideas and activities. I enjoy having not only one close circle of friends, but plenty of other friends that I have met through classes, activities, or even simply sitting with them at lunch.

Activities: Bona has so many activities that it is impossible to do everything you want! I currently have a radio show with one of my friends on Monday nights from 1 to 3 a.m. called Media Mayhem with Mark and Mary on our campus radio station, 88.3 The Buzz, and I also read the news on the radio. I also write for the Bona Venture, our newspaper; the Buzzworthy, our music magazine; and I am part of the Laurel, our literary magazine. I am also in Glee Club, Concert Choir and I have a part in our fall play, "Dracula."

Anything else? If there was only one piece of advice I could give a prospective college student, it would be to seriously consider living on campus. Despite the expense, it is truly rewarding to realize that you can be independent and self-sufficient. It's important to figure out your budget, learn what it's like to cooperate and live with other people and be in charge of your own time management.


Carl Lam

Fredonia State College

High school: Hamburg

Major: Music Education and Journalism

Undergrads: 1,100

Classes you are taking: 13, including ensembles like Orchestra and Chamber Orchestra and regular classes like Calculus and Music Theory.

Class sizes: 25-28, on average

Why did you choose this school? Financial issues and personal choice.

What type of student would not like this school? A student that wants a busier atmosphere outside of the campus. Fredonia is a very small town. Anyone who wants a metropolitan area would want to look somewhere else.

Pros: The campus is relatively small, which makes for easy navigation.

Cons: Living situations your first year can be horrible.

How's the food? Food isn't bad, if you can choose the right dining hall to go to.

Social life? Very easy to make plans and just spend the night watching movies or even heading into town whenever you please.

Activities: A wide range of clubs are on campus -- Latin Jazz, a cappella groups, rugby and student government.

Anything else you'd like to add: Don't let anyone or anything take away from your dreams and college experience. Choose wisely!


Julia Birkinbine

University of Wisconsin-Madison

High School: Williamsville North

Major: Journalism

Undergrads: 29,000

Classes you are taking: French, Nutritional Science, Modern American Literature, Introduction to Psychology, All-University Symphony Orchestra

Class Sizes: Average lecture -- 300; average discussion section -- 20

Why did you choose this school?: My dad is an alumnus, so he encouraged me to visit the campus. Once I visited, I loved the campus, academic programs and sense of school spirit here at Madison!

What type of student would not like this school? Madison is a big university, so students who would prefer a more intimate and personal school setting wouldn't like this campus.

Pros: Very social school, great sports teams (especially football), big atmosphere, never boring, big array of majors/programs, great professors, classes and academic programs.

Cons: Large lectures; teaching assistants teach most discussion section classes; known for being a party school.

How's the food? Great! So much selection, made-to-order hot dishes, take-out and delivery services.

Social life? The social scene on campus is always exciting! There's so much to do every day of the week; student organizations, Greek life, concerts/shows, parties, football games, restaurants and shopping.

Activities: Two daily student newspapers (the Badger Herald and the Daily Cardinal).


Hans Glick

University of Chicago

High school: City Honors

Major: Sociology (hypothetically, anyhow)

Undergrads: 5,134

Classes you are taking: Philosophical Perspectives, Calculus I, French 202

Class sizes: Most classes have less than 30 students

Why did you choose this school? The campus. My approach to the whole application process was relatively relaxed: Apply to six or so schools, visit them if at all possible, and let my credentials do the talking. No early decision, no first choice, no hundred-school laundry list. But then I set foot on campus in December of my senior year, and all that ambivalence went out the window. This was the middle of winter vacation, mind you -- no students milling around, nothing to influence my opinion other that the physical entity of the university itself. Did it ever. For me, nothing says "college" quite like an Oxford-inspired (and 100 percent walkable) urban campus with no shortage of green space and the nation's third-largest city in its backyard. Past, present and flat-out futuristic styles of architecture collide here in fascinating ways. It's the perfect balance of self-containment and intricacy.

What type of student would not like this school? Those who dislike work, and a lot of it.

Pros: Along with the aforementioned campus, UChicago boasts a rigorous yet surprisingly flexible curriculum, and a sterling reputation to match. The faculty here is said to be among the best in the country. You'll be learning alongside some of the brightest kids around. And let's not forget the city itself. Chicago is an incredible place -- the Loop, Hyde Park and just about everywhere else -- and UChicago students know how to take full advantage of it.

Cons: Being nine hours from home is no small thing for a lot of people, from a logistical as well as familial standpoint. Also, the university operates under a quarter system; instead of the traditional semester breakdown, our academic year is cut into four pieces (which essentially boils down to three quarters per year, unless you opt to take summer courses). This turns out to be a bit of a double-edged sword: You'll love having to take fewer classes at a time, but might not be too pleased when midterms happen a month into the school year. Oh, and let's not forget the $50,000 asking price.

How's the food? Not bad. The three dining halls recently made the switch to an all-you-can-eat style of service; suffice to say, putting on that "freshman 15" shouldn't be a problem if you're so inclined. The quality of the food is passable. There's plenty of variety (in a cyclical sort of way) and enough healthy options to justify me gorging myself at the ice cream bar every other meal.

Social life? I'll just go ahead and address the elephant in the room: UChicago is not, in fact, the place "where fun goes to die." Granted, we do use that as a self-disparaging slogan every chance we get, but otherwise it's baloney. Kids here certainly burn the midnight oil at the library but, when all's said and done, UChicago students know how to have a good time (as well as how to debate inconsistencies in Socratic thought regarding civil disobedience, as it were). Central to all of this is the House system. Think Harry Potter except that the plates at our House-specific dining hall tables do not refill themselves, regrettably.

Activities: Everything and more. Musical groups galore, a plethora of student publications and more intramural sports than you can shake an inner tube water polo ball at. My personal favorite? Midnight soccer on the F.L. Olmsted-designed Midway Plaisance.


Marc Luko

Boston University

High school: Hutch-Tech

Major: Health Science

Undergrads: 18,534

Classes you are taking: Biology, Chemistry, Writing: The Lyrics of Bob Dylan, Music Theory, Intro to Health Professions

Class sizes: 20-250

Why did you choose this school? I chose this school because of its diversity and its reputation in terms of the health sciences. Every program here is highly ranked.

What type of student would not like this school? If you are not open to spontaneity, then this is not a place for you. Boston University is engulfed in the city so things change all the time, including the weather. While it is a big school, it is made up of many colleges based on majors. So, essentially anyone that wants a big or small school could get it in one package.

Pros: Diversity, Boston area, high-level education, access to resources (stores, clothes, etc.).

Cons: Easily distracting, traffic, no "real" campus feel.

How's the food? The food here varies depending on where you are getting it and what you are getting. West Campus has by far the best food at BU. BU is good in a sense that they accommodate for certain food needs, such as kosher meals, which are offered at the Hillel House. There is also an unlimited plan, which many schools don't have, mainly to prevent the "freshman 15."

Social life? Boston is a place where there is so much activity all the time, and since BU is in the heart of it all, the possibilities are endless. Fenway Park is right behind BU, and there is a Regal Cinema within a 10-minute walk. For all the shoppers, Newbury is where you can get all your shopping done, while enjoying the beauty of downtown Boston.

Activities: BU has a huge selection of activities/clubs. On a daily basis, there are things going on. Whether it is Free Hugs, a lecture from Elie Wiesel, or a seminar by a world-renowned musician, there is always something to do no matter what you are into.

Anything else you'd like to add: BU is, in my opinion, the most diverse school you can find. In terms of ethnicity, it has a 51 percent international rate and in terms of education, it is ranked well among the fine arts, the health sciences, business and many other areas. Because it is a big school, the thing that determines how good of a time you have here is really up to you.


Joey Polino

Emerson College, Boston

High school: Canisius

Major: Marketing Communications with public relations concentration

Undergrads: 4,000-plus

Classes you are taking: Introduction to Writing, Speech Communication, Ethics & Justice, Culture of International News and Media

Class sizes: My largest class is 40 students, but the rest of my classes run about 15 students.

Why did you choose this school? The programs are so intertwined that even though I'm a PR student, the classes and extracurriculars make it so that anyone from any major can be involved. It's a great way to make connections with people and work together on different projects. Not only that, but because of the experience that these activities give you during your freshman year, you're groomed to take over the top positions by sophomore year. For instance, my editors-in-chief at the fashion/lifestyle magazine are both sophomores! The list of alumni is absolutely incredible (heads of major movie studios, famous actors, novelists, Passion Pit!). Emerson is like this little gem of a school. It's an art school, and therefore so much fun! When I visited it for the first time, I knew the moment that I walked in that it was a fun place to be. Orientation week was one extended dance party at the beginning of September. You'd walk into one of the mandatory events, and the orientation leaders would be dancing all-out, getting people excited. It was amazing.

What type of student would not like this school? Math or science people. There's a joke that "We don't do math, we go to Emerson." Our BlackBerrys are our calculators, if for some reason we need them. Also, if you want to go to class in sweats, you might not like Emerson. It's a rather fashion-forward school. To class, girls wear heels, tights, headbands; guys where corduroys, ties, scarves, etc.

Pros: So many opportunities to get involved in professional-level positions. As a sophomore, you can be the editor-in-chief of a campus magazine, a top producer for the television station, a DJ for the No. 2 radio station in Boston, etc. I'm a vegetarian, and the food options here are perfect. Campus is located directly across from Boston Commons, Boston Public Gardens and Beacon Hill. Newbury Street, the North End and Quincy Market/Faneuil Hall are all within a mile of campus, and the two lines of public transportation run directly next to us, so you can get ANYWHERE in Boston in a timely fashion.

Cons: We don't really have any green space on campus. We're a section of Boylston Avenue in metropolitan Boston.

How's the food?: The food is of a very nice variety. Every night they have entrees and side dishes, pizza, burgers, a deli, salad bar and the vegan section always has great risotto or pasta!

Social life? I live in the primarily freshman dorm so you meet EVERYONE! I also have a class of all juniors and one with sophomores so it's not hard at all to become best friends with someone two years older than you. Everyone is also so welcoming and really one big family, which I think is rare in a college. Your class year doesn't matter. My two best friends and I are freshmen, but we're always hanging out with our friends who are juniors or sophomores (and even a few seniors). Also, Boston has over 60 colleges! Everyone in Boston is a college student, it seems, so it's not hard to go to a party at Harvard, BU or MIT. Every night of the week (and especially the weekend), there's something fun to do.

Activities: Magazine writer, Fashion Society

Anything else you'd like to add: This is an art school, so if you're a theater or film student or love talking about books, Andy Warhol, indie music or the like, this is the place where you can break into song-and-dance or wear the most radical thing and no one would blink an eye. It's actually expected.