More Than Just Sunshine: How Weather Shapes Your College Experience

Unpack the unassuming role of weather in shaping your college experience. From influencing campus architecture to study habits, discover how climate can subtly impact your student life and decision-making process.

When considering your college options, one of the things that won’t come to mind is the weather. There are more demanding things on the list, like affordability, extracurricular options, and student life. At first glance, you may think it’s because it doesn’t matter. In reality? It does!

You do care about the weather. You’ve already thought about your future university’s relation to the weather without knowing it. Some qualities impact an entire experience to the point where it blends into the experience itself. Taking a step back, we can look at how weather truly affects your college decisions.

Weather refers to the atmospheric conditions of a specific climate on a day-to-day basis. Even if you don’t think about it often, everyone has a personal preference regarding the weather. Depending on what sort of climate you’re used to, this can vary significantly between individuals. Two people who grew up in a hot climate might clash in their opinions of snow — either adoring the rare experience or dreading the vast decline in temperature. It may not be immediately apparent, but climate impacts everything. 

Have you ever seen a school building and pinpointed exactly what weather occurs most in that part of the world? Architecture is a vast difference between universities, and the climate typically determines the layout and structure of campus buildings. Don’t lie; your first inclination when looking at a new school is to check out how cool the campus is. We all do it. Envisioning yourself in your new school is an essential part of the process. The campus aesthetics are usually interwoven with functionality, and this is where weather plays an enormous role. 

Compare a school in Phoenix, Arizona, to one in Boston, Massachusetts. The materials of the buildings are intentionally different. Massachusetts winters are rough, so you’ll likely see more stone or brick buildings that are tall, insulated, and walkable. A campus might be split into unrelated buildings within a major city like Boston. If it has its campus ground, then the trails are often laid out with snow-clearing tactics in mind. Buildings in Phoenix, however, must be built to withstand the heat. Cement, Clay, and Concrete buildings protect students from the hot sun; generally, any walkways are covered in necessary shade and are well-ventilated. Even the flora and fauna are different in these climates. Hopefully, if you attend a school in Boston, you’re not itching to see a cactus. 

If you like watching the year go by in fragments, you’ll opt for a northern state that experiences all four seasons. Switching out your wardrobe and engaging with seasonal activities can be fun for some and tedious for others. Harvard in the fall is gorgeous, and after a classic Boston winter, it comes to life in the springtime. Everyone rushes outside on the first 50-60 degree day, enthused by the sun.

Temperature can also affect how you study. This isn’t often expressed on its own, but rather, in a list of things a student might be reminded to consider when developing study habits. If you’re a fan of studying outside, states with colder winters, year-round chill, and scorching places might not be ideal. Enjoy studying in a cozy dorm hall or an air-conditioned library. Adapting to the weather for practical study sessions will be easier for you in these extreme climates.

The weather dictates significant components, like transportation, clothing choice, and even the available activities in the area. It can also be as simple as how you envision your ideal college experience. In specific ways, your time in higher education will be as great as you make it, but don’t be afraid to consider these critical factors when making your final decision. 



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