There are multiple versions of ‘college towns’

Published by adviser, Author: Joseph Szalinski - Rocket Contributor, Date: April 6, 2017
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Slippery Rock is an ever-burgeoning small town that will forever be associated with the university that shares its name. Although the area is replete with a mixture of “mom and pop shops” and bigger, corporate entities, as well as mining operations, Slippery Rock will always be thought of as the place where people go to learn about exercise science and teaching. But with all of the academic connotations, is Slippery Rock really a college town?

Talk to anyone who was a student in the 70s or 80s and they’d tell you that it is/was. With rampant, wild parties, and not much else to do, the college took priority in the town and served as one of the only reasons why so many people ventured so deep into Butler.

But when compared to a place like Ann Arbor, Mich., Slippery Rock doesn’t hold up, in the same regard. Ann Arbor is more of a suburban/urban environment, with significantly more money and opportunity; the fact that the university has more of an established “pedigree” helps too.

Similarly, Pittsburgh (another urban environment) is crowded with institutions of higher learning. Between community college campuses and a myriad of four-year universities, Pittsburgh definitely benefits from serving as a hub of education, especially since the city is focusing more on science and medicine. But few would jump to consider Pittsburgh a “college town” because there is much more to the city than simply going to school.

The question to ask is, what is a college town, really? Most people conjure up thoughts and images of towns like Ann Arbor. But non-traditional towns/cities should be considered too! In time, Pittsburgh will come to be recognized as a titan of higher education, allowing people to learn in an environment where opportunities abound!

Any town that benefits from playing host to a school/schools should be a considered a college town. It doesn’t matter the population, or how well-known the school/schools are. Slippery Rock is the perfect case study for this too! Truth is, without us college students cluttering up the streets and renting properties and being employed at local businesses, Slippery Rock would be a much different town.

Being located in a rural area noted for farms and/or its woodlands does not create opportunity for everyone, but opportunity for different kinds of college students, making the prospect of offering “different” majors, like parks and recreation, possible. Not to mention college is about more than just finding a job after graduation, it’s about creating connections and having a meaningful experience while enrolled. As long as a college and, to an extent, the town it’s in, can facilitate this, then it should be included as a college town.

Keep in mind, as Slippery Rock University becomes more well-known because of its alumni, distinguished faculty/staff and the programs offered, the university and town will grow to accommodate the attention and ballooning diversity, as it has from its inception until now.

 

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