By Lamonte Gambrell, Senior Admissions Intern
When students are looking for their dream school, they’re often encouraged to gauge institutions on their academic programs, career placement rate, and sports. All of which are important, but I believe one of the MOST important factors is where your school is located.
I’m from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and when I told my dad that I was going to Champlain College in Burlington, VT, he basically pictured me in the middle of nowhere. One of his first questions was, “Do they even have a Rite Aid?” There definitely are some people, including my dad, who might wonder why a small city like Burlington is recognized as one of America’s top college towns. My answer to them is simple: Burlington is just too great not to be on every “best of” list.
Let me tell you why. Here are three of my top reasons Burlington is an awesome place to go to school.
- YOUTHFUL VIBE + OPPORTUNITIES
One of the best things about Burlington is the vibe you get from the people here and the opportunities that arise when you’re a part of the community.
Near Champlain’s Lakeside campus, in the South End of Burlington, there is a place called ArtsRiot that provides an amazing space for young people to express their creativity. They have local musical acts perform concerts, trivia nights and Moth storytelling, plus they are one of the main venues you can go to for bigger events, like the South End Art Hop, a 3-day festival featuring art, music, food, fashion shows and more.
If art isn’t your thing, there are plenty of places a short walk from Champlain’s main campus in downtown Burlington that could catch your interest. The Vermont Comedy Club hosts local and out-of-state stand-up comedians and improv acts and the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts has many different types of live performances, from professional dance to plays and musicals.
The town of Burlington is filled with life and thrives off of a happy balance of college students and youthful locals of all ages. It is also a great city for young aspiring professionals, and during your time in college, you should take advantage of all the opportunities Burlington has to get involved in a variety of industries and endeavors. It’s highly likely that you will work alongside alumni from Champlain, UVM and St. Michael’s (among many more Vermont colleges), and you can be a part of important changes affecting the local community.
For example, in my first year here, a friend of mine became a pretty well-known rapper, not only on campus but also around Burlington. He began doing shows in clubs downtown, making music with local producers, and even started performing at music festivals like the Otis Mountain Get Down, a weekend music festival in the Adirondack Mountains in New York. I can tell this is just the beginning for him. Personally, I’ve been a part of change within the state’s restorative justice department. In fact, I was one of the first people to work on the pilot program for court diversion that would help youth who have small offenses or are at-risk to stay out of court and the criminal justice system. Not only did I get to make a difference, but I made some connections doing so.
- GREAT LOCAL EATS
One of the most important things to me wherever I go is the food, and I’ll be honest with you, Vermont has some of the best food I’ve ever had.
Burlington is seriously focused on all aspects of “local,” especially when it comes to food. Every Saturday, from late spring to early fall, local farmers and vendors come to town to sell their fresh produce and artisan products at the farmers market in the park in front of City Hall. On Friday evenings, local bands play music while people socialize and eat great food from local food truck vendors at Arts Riot’s Truck Stop. Many of our restaurants pride themselves on buying from local farmers and making farm-to-table cuisine. You may think it’s silly, but it makes a difference in quality. For any of you whose highlight of the day is dinner, or if you have ever posted a picture of a delicious entrée on your Instagram or Snapchat, this is the place for you.
- BEAUTIFUL SCENERY
The highlight of my four years in Burlington will without a doubt be the beauty of this great state.
Whether it’s the sunset in the summer or the leaves during the foliage season—hands down best time in Vermont—or the moment they turn on all the Christmas lights on Church Street, Burlington is ALWAYS beautiful. The slower pace of Burlington builds a sense of appreciation inside of you as you become interested in the the world around you. Some of the time it is cold, but you grow to love the snow and the ability to sport some the the sickest sweaters ever. You also get the chance to boast on Instagram with some gorgeous shots of a winter wonderland.
I invite you to come visit our little town and experience all these things for yourself. Go to a hockey game, talk with a local or an alumni, eat a creemee and watch the sunset on the beautiful lake. College will be one of the most exciting times of your life, so why not pick the best? But don’t take my word for it, there are plenty of days/times you can take a tour of Champlain or come to our upcoming Winter Open House.