Oct 08, 2006
The following article was published in the October 2006 College Spotlight, a newsletter distributed by Collegewise.
The adult version of a boring class is a tedious conferenceyou look forward to the free coffee and baked goods and try to stay awake. Fortunately for us Collegewise college nerds, we love spending a day at a convention center soaking up information about colleges. At the 2006 California State University Conference, the java and muffins were an added plus to the scintillating college presentations. And our favorite school by far was Humboldt State University in Arcata, CA.
The 7,500 students that call Humboldt State home relish the fact that their campus is a serious trek from Los Angelesa 12 hour drive to be exact. Arcata, California is an outdoor adventurer’s paradise. Outside magazine recently voted the town one of the best places to live for outdoor adventurers. From kayaking to whitewater rafting to rock climbing to mountain biking, even students with the most insatiable hunger for the outdoors wont be disappointed. So you don’t own a sea kayak or Frisbee golfing gear? That’s alright. Rent your equipment right on campus and be on your way. And if you yearn for the city (and the smog) once in a while, there are regular non-stop flights from the Arcata airport to Los Angeles International.
Are you looking for a hands-on learning experience? Does the idea of changing the world get you going? Students in the Environmental Resources Engineering major explore renewable energy sources every day, installing solar panels atop classroom buildings and researching natural wastewater treatment processes at the Arcata Marsh and Wildlife Sanctuary. Oceanography majors have the Coral Sea research vessel (the only truly undergraduate research boat in the United States) at their fingertips to take advantage of the natural laboratory that is the Pacific Ocean. Humboldt’s commitment to improving the environment is present in small and big things alike, like the copy machines that use only 100% recycled paper and the new, entirely green Behavioral and Social Sciences Building (set to be completed in January 2007) that will employ natural light and ventilation as well as a storm water recovery system.
So, do all Humboldt students sleep in tents in the forest and mountain bike to class? No. In fact, Humboldt is a completely residential school, meaning that all students have the option of living on campus. Student dwellings, while nestled among giant Redwoods, are equipped with oodles of modern amenities, like new kitchens, movie screens, and offices. Aside from your traditional college dorms, future Jackson Pollocks can set up house in the Art Colony where theyll have access to local artists and art-making trips. Students interested in music and social movements can vibe with like-minded peers in the Rhythm & Resistance house, where opportunities abound for taking in live music and participating in on-campus social initiatives.
We’re lucky to have students and parents from all over the country reading our little newsletter. So, why did we just write a college spotlight about a public school that services almost entirely California students? We did it because even though we’re college geeks, even though we spend way too much time talking about colleges, and even though we were already familiar with Humboldt, we had to go to a particular session at a local conference to find out what we were missing.
What areyou missing?
Is there a college out there that you haven’t heard of yet that might be right for you, a college that you cant find on the US News rankings or in the most popular college guidebooks? We bet there is. We can’t tell you what that college is, but we can tell you that you should spend as much time looking for great colleges as you do trying to get into the ones that you already think are the best. In the meantime, we promise to keep looking, to keep sharing, and to keep enjoying the free muffins.
Christina Wright is a 2003 graduate of Columbia University. She is currently planning a trip to Arcata in hopes of using her hiking boots for more than just looking rugged and cool.