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Rural Schools

By Jamey Temple
Media Relations, Cumberland College

You take a break from your reading assignment in economics to adjust your blanket. You always loved the feel of grass between your toes. The only sounds are the breeze, the chirping birds, and other students saying, "Hi!" as they walk by. You are overwhelmed by the antebellum architecture and take a deep breath. No city. No traffic. Peaceful.

Welcome to rural campus life.

When you are not basking in the sun or studying, you could be checking out the hiking trails nearby, perhaps kayaking, skiing, or horseback riding. You could be taking part in the many outdoor adventures awaiting you in nature's backdoor.

At most rural colleges, the school tends to be the center of academic and social life. This helps breed a close-knit community, encouraging a more personalized learning experience and greater interaction with the faculty. Professors typically know you by name (which may make it a little harder to hide out in the back of the classroom). It's not uncommon to find group activities at a professor's home. Students benefit by receiving the full attention of their professors, who are typically willing to help with class work or projects.

What rural campus life does not mean is a lack of activities. Many campuses have reputable athletics programs, which offer sports for men and women, and campus activities’ boards keep students busy throughout the week and weekend. Since rural campuses do not have the luxury of having a city nearby, they work much harder to bring the entertainment to you! Many campuses hold free events featuring entertainment such as comedians, magicians, hypnotists, and some even offer concerts at a reduced cost for students.

Dorm life tends to be an even more critical part of rural campus life. Rural campuses are more residential, meaning that more students tend to live on campus than off of campus. This helps create a much stronger sense of community. You’ll go to the local 24-hour diner to study for finals; you’ll go on a weekend road trip at the last minute; you’ll stay up late listening and singing to bad '80s music – you’ll do this and much more. You'll create memories to fill a thousand picture albums. Tip: Don’t forget the digital camera.

One aspect of campus life you probably haven't thought about, but your parents have is campus security. Parents often worry about their son or daughter running around loose on a college campus and out from under their protective eye. One question weighing heavily on their minds is, "How safe is the campus?" When the "parentals" step foot onto a rural college campus, they may feel warped into an episode of the Andy Griffith Show. They'll even stop, sigh, and grin. (If you don't know what show we're referring to, don't worry, it's to your benefit). One of the advantages of being on a rural campus is this feeling of security. Of course, all campuses have their own security, but a rural campus has a feeling an urban campus can't replicate. A rural campus feels safe because it's serene, it's set apart, and it's a place where people come to know each other personally. Setting foot onto a rural campus gives one an impression that it is a protected environment, because it feels miles away from the hustle and bustle of an urban location. Your parents may be the ones who worry about security the most, but you'll be the one who comes to appreciate a secure feeling in the end.

On larger campuses, you may walk the same route everyday and not see a familiar face. Not on a rural campus. You'll get to know people, and they'll get to know you. Your web of life will extend from your peers to your teachers to the staff of the college. This personal approach and familiarity is one not typically found in a larger, urban setting. If you are looking for the anonymity of a 400-seat classroom, look elsewhere. But, if you are looking for a place where your professors care about you, and a place you can call home, then adjust your shades, kick back on your blanket, and enjoy the serenity of rural campus life.

About the School

Founded in 1889, and with more than 1,700 students, Cumberland College is one of the largest private colleges in Kentucky concentrating on the undergraduate experience. Cumberland students come from 38 states and 14 foreign countries. With a 16:1 student-faculty ratio, a personal approach to learning, and a caring faculty who put their academic credentials to use for the student's benefit, a Cumberland education is one equated with value and high standards.