Missing college towns

Photo by Blake Israel

Atlanta is an amalgamation of many things: diverse cultures, an expansive food scene, art and museums and years of rich history. It is especially notable for housing the Coca-Cola factory, the Varsity and the busiest airport in the world, to name a few. Of course, among those “attractions” is the bane of most of our existences, Tech. Housed in the midst of Midtown, Atlanta, students have access to nearby companies, cafes, restaurants and concerts while simultaneously having the college experience associated with a continuous campus, contrary to other college town campuses. However, is this city life truly better than living in a college town? 

Athens-lovers would argue for the superiority of their expansive, bar-accessible college town. Friday nights are chock-full of groups “going downtown,” with easy access to college bars and the club scene. This accessibility is not present on Tech’s campus, and going to bars often costs an arm, a leg and then an overpriced Uber ride to get there and get in on a weekend night, let alone the cost to buy the actual drinks. That being said, those same limbs are lost just to get from class to class in Athens. A car is nearly a necessity and the sprawl of the campus is unfathomable to spoiled students like myself who bask in the lazy luxury of a maximum twenty-five minutes walk to class. College towns are extremely expansive and while they tend to house numerous different schools (i.e. law schools, medical schools, etc.), going from one end to the other is difficult and without buses is nearly impossible. Not to mention, the spaghetti-like mess that is the college town bus system, with routes every color of the rainbow and spikes in all 360 degrees, Guy Fieri style. There is no denying there are benefits to living in a college town. From increased safety to aspects as simple as ample parking space, there is a comfort and ease to living in a college town that city campuses cannot always offer. That same arm and leg, plus your firstborn child is necessary payment to find good parking in Atlanta. Of course, being in Atlanta has its perks too. Greek life formals are held at the High Museum, Fox Theatre, and Fernbank Museum. Big-name artists hold concerts walking distance from campus, leaving no need for the parking hassle. Mercedes-Benz Stadium is closer to North Avenue Apartments than Organic Chemistry is to most student housing in Athens. There are numerous coffee shops and cafes nearby, perfect for studying and spending time with friends. There is so much in Atlanta to explore.Of course, this is not to say that Tech’s campus is perfect. With all students back on campus following the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020, the library is bursting at the seams. Every single floor is packed full of students, the air is thick from the crowd-induced humidity, and it is far too loud to get any real work done. Sometimes, I would rather rip off every fingernail and then go rock climbing than work in the library without the sound-canceling feature of my headphones. Furthermore, it is hard to find seating on most of the campus midday. The gigantic college town campuses likely do not face this issue to the same extent. 

There is, however, one single feature of city campuses that blows all of these pros and cons out of the water: the view. There is absolutely no feature that any college town could boast that can overshadow the beauty of a city skyline. Whether it be from the roof of Tech’s library, the terrace of the parking decks, or from campus apartments, the Atlanta skyline is unmatched. The beauty of sunsets, sunrises, and the buildings lit up at night almost makes up for the difficulty of our classes and the lack of mental health resources. When it comes to campus locations, there is no question in my mind; city campuses will always reign supreme.