College towns impact the big decision


Annabel Chia

Stanford University is located in Palo Alto, California. The area surrounding the school is conveniently catered to the students of the university.

As the seniors begin their goodbyes to their childhood homes, they’re also about to open up a new chapter in their lives. 

However, there are difficult decisions to be made first. After all, they’ll be calling this new town their home for the next four years. 

Some seniors will soon find themselves living in the middle of an eccentric town, commonly known as a college town. College towns are usually catered to the students attending the nearby universities.

The lives found in these towns are quite different from the suburban life found in family-oriented cities such as Belmont. 

College towns by Annabel Chia

“It’s really interesting and fun living in a college town. Shops and food are definitely more accessible,” said Ashley Zheng, a former Carlmont student who now attends the University of California Berkeley. “We have many restaurants open until 2 a.m. catered towards college students, and convenience stores are well-located.” 

According to Turkan Kartal, a former Carlmont student who now attends the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB), living in college towns such as Isla Vista is like living in a giant student-dominated community.

“The energy in my college town is incredibly different from the energy back home in Belmont,” Kartal said. “Everything seems to be so much more fast-paced with people crowding the streets at all hours of the day. I’m constantly hearing music and voices coming from parties as the weekend approaches.”  

Besides the vibrant energy among the younger residents, the changes from the suburban lifestyle are seen at first glance with the shops and businesses that mark the town as the territory of college students. 

“Even the names of the restaurants cater towards students with these supposedly hip names like Dank Bowls,” Kartal said.

However, along with the exciting changes in pace, rising college freshmen will have to adjust to the downsides that come with such a dense population.

“Petty crime rate is probably a lot higher than back home; bikes get stolen and messed with, wallets that drunk people lose out on in the town are never returned,” Kartal said. “Sexual assault is also a lot more common, or at least more talked about when it does happen, and campus alerts are sent out to everybody.” 

Everything seems to be so much more fast-paced with people crowding the streets at all hours of the day.”

— Turkan Kartal

Incoming students must also prepare for pricing changes. According to both Zheng and Kartal, the prices for food and housing are higher.

When factoring in all of the upcoming changes, students will discover a lot to consider when making a decision. Despite the fact that all college-oriented communities have some commonalities, students are unlikely to get the same experience at every school.

“Students need to consider what they’re looking for from the college. At San Jose State, I’d say I was more isolated compared to students who’d attend a larger college town like the University of Oregon,” said Robert Tsuchiyama, a math teacher at Carlmont High School. 

Students must also decide if they’d prefer to be farther from home or not. 

“Location was a huge factor, and I wanted to be in an environment I felt comfortable in,” said Zoe Byun, a senior at Carlmont High School who’s committed to attending the University of Texas at Austin. “I was aiming to leave California for college.” 

The school’s location also relates to the social experience that students will get from the school. 

“I really love the beach and going outdoors and hiking, and Isla Vista is within close proximity of many beaches and hiking spots,” Kartal said. “I like how close [UCSB] is to LA since this allows me to attend festivals and concerts, which I also love.” 

However, at the end of the day, it’s up to the students to create their own experience in the town they’re living in. 

“At San Jose, I mostly stayed in my dorm with my friends because I was shy. However, even if I went to college in Oregon, I would’ve probably stayed in the dorms because that was my personality in college,” Tsuchiyama said. 

All in all, whether they’re close to parties or cities, college towns will always share a common factor: the presence of youth.

“The noise is also something that is different from back home,” Kartal said. “No matter where you live in the town you can pretty much hear when the weekend has begun.”