College visits teach students history, culture

Ben Files

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The city of Lewiston Maine has been a hotspot for Somali immigrants over the past ten years. Maine is one of the least diverse states, so the city is a very interesting place in contrast to the rest of the state.

The coronavirus social restrictions have allowed for some rising seniors to get ahead on their college research and application work amidst all the craziness we are dealing with today. From attending virtual info sessions to learn about particular colleges to watching campus tours on YouTube, students can now more easily access information from home about colleges than they could a year ago. 

For many colleges, however, exploring the surrounding area can reveal unique aspects of the history of the school as well as what is currently happening near campus — details that are hard to come by online or during a campus tour. 

While visiting my grandmother in Maine this summer, I visited Bates College, a small liberal arts college in Lewiston, Maine. While there, I learned how the relatively recently combined cities of Lewiston and Auburn have seen a great influx in immigration from Somalia over the past decade. Bates students are very involved in programs that support the immigrant community close to campus. 

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In Alabama, students can visit University of Alabama-Birmingham and Tuskegee University and also learn about historically important areas involving the Civil Rights movement along with memorials and historic sites surrounding the movement. Student reviews of a service, Campanile, that leads high school student trips to the area were positive, including one by a student who said that they, “have learned more things about history than I have during all 10 of my school years.”

Just about an hour from WJ is Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania, surrounded by historical battlefield sites from the Civil War. The college attracts students who are interested in history, serving as an outlet for students who appreciate these topics to explore them while they are studying in college.

It may not be the main reason to go visit a college, but it is interesting to know the history and campus-community relations of the surrounding area. This kind of exploration would be helpful during any year, but it can be especially insightful now when it is difficult to see colleges in person due to the pandemic, and for many seniors it would be beneficial to pursue information about the schools they are looking at.