On education in Europe and the USA

Clever Magazine
Parents United Kingdom Schools Kirill Delikatnyi

Location - an Overlooked Factor When Choosing Your College

I am sorry, I know you have already spent months, if not years, choosing the perfect school for yourself. You have looked at the rankings, the teachers, the students, and so many other things that are undoubtedly higher on your list of priorities than the co-ordinates of the school. I am not telling you that your priorities aren’t in order, I only want you to know that the location of the school will inevitably affect the experience you will have of student life there. The location of your school shapes the community that resides there. This is determined by the surrounding residents who send their children to the school, other schools and students you will encounter in the area, and the competition you will experience throughout your academic progress.

The student circle

The reputations of schools do determine the academic circle that attends them, to an extent: for example, Darwin studied at one of the most remote schools in the country, which undoubtedly earns the school its reputation. However, the fellow Darwinians who follow in his footsteps make up a significantly lesser proportion of the student community. What makes up most of the student body are the children of local residents, many of whom will have long family traditions of attendance.
Schools with campuses closer to big cities, like London, Manchester, Birmingham, etc., will comprise a more diverse community, especially of foreigners.
If your mission is to assimilate into the culture, counter-intuitively, studying close to the UK’s major cities (its cultural hubs) may actually harm your chances.
This is because most families relocate to the UK due to their businesses here. The UK itself is structured very compactly - there are huge metropolises here and there with vast farmlands in between. Therefore, the urban jungles are fundamentally more opportunistic areas for residents and newcomers.
The more remote private schools are usually found in rich areas, old towns where the rich city folk reside in their country houses or where the British aristocracy looks after their castles.
There, you are more likely to encounter native Brits, who are most definitely a different breed from those you will encounter in London. Simply put, a remote private school is the better choice if you want to immerse yourself in an old-money lifestyle. New money = industrial city.

Nevertheless, private schools offer a variety of arrangements, such as full-boarding, semi-boarding and day-boarding options. If you commit to a remote school on a full-boarding basis, it will probably offer you more options in terms of accommodation over long holidays, and the student community will feel closer together and more personal, considering it is the only community of teenagers in the several-mile area. Contrastingly, schools closer to bigger cities would encourage students to get out of school grounds more and will be inevitably intertwined with many student communities in the area. How?

The teenage circle

Children are extremely social creatures, and the community that surrounds them encourages friendships, relationships and competition among them. Despite private schools mostly resembling some extremely secluded asylums, the student life beyond school grounds is a bigger contributor than most like to think.

Firstly, schools like to organise fixtures against their competitors in the area, maintaining a long line of traditions, an eventful occasion for parents and upping their reputations nationally. This exposes children to occasions where they can make friends beyond the school grounds, learn sportsmanlike competitiveness and explore friendships in their area. Remote schools, on the other hand, can offer a lesser variety of competitors and social events, but this can also play to an advantage. Firstly, it may incite greater pride in your school, having fewer challengers in the area, yet may pose greater inconvenience of day-long rides to and from nearest schools halfway across the country. Secondly, there is another cross-school event that is a private school tradition: socials.
Traditionally, private schools in the UK are gender segregated, and historically, where there would be a boys’ school, there would also be a girls’ school in the area.
In order for the genders to mingle, schools organise visits to one another where students would dance, have dinner or have sporting events also. With teenagers being teenagers, remote schools pose an advantage of eliminating any other competition to mingling in the area.


Different locations of schools will appeal to differing personalities. Rarely would you find a several-acre private school grounds right in the middle of a busy city, most private schools that offer boarding options will be removed from the bustle. You will still find private schools within city centres but with fewer boarding accommodations and a bigger presence of day-to-day attendees. Such urban-immersed schools practically impose lesser ties between the student and his school colours, as the student will consider the school only to be an educational environment and not their living environment. Removed schools will exhibit more culture and identity, which traditionally is a beneficial factor for further networking, employment, and long-lasting friendships.
However, although some removed schools can be found hundreds of miles away from the closest settlement, those that are just 40 or so minutes away from London still struggle to incite this identity association between the student and the school. A short commute to London is a more attractive option for students who can visit their home and other friends as well as meet partners there in a more natural setting than a forced school social event. A short commute is also an attractive opportunity to leave school every weekend, once again reinforcing the idea that school is something removed from ordinary life. Farthest remote schools, however, cannot offer such an opportunity to students, with many choosing to stay on school grounds during weekends and consequently orientate more of their life around the college. This encourages closer friendships to emerge between students, and incites a more habitual attitude to life at college. On the other hand, the lack of this freedom to leave school grounds to spend time in the “real” world may make some students feel “imprisoned” on school grounds. More importantly, such environments can harm students’ awareness of interaction in the real world and inflict social awkwardness on their behaviour outside school grounds.


The location of your chosen college may play a small part in your college experience; however, in my perspective, it is crucial. An interesting observation I have made during my experience with colleges is that those that are more remote experience less rebelliousness among students than those closer to big cities. I cannot explain the reason behind this, but it may be due to students' feeling more removed from the school if they find themselves outside of it more often.
I advise that the campus of your chosen college should speak to your personality.
If you are more outgoing and do not like to be locked down in a single place, schools closer to urban environments may be your fancy. On the other hand, if you prefer a quieter atmosphere and focus on forming stronger and more personal ties and acquiring close, life-long friendships, remote schools may be more suitable.

Each school will have its own identity which is another factor to consider when choosing a college that tends to your character.
Location alone should not be your key criterium, but rather an accompanying aspect to the school's identity that you observe from its rankings, student and teacher communities and academia.