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Articles / Applying to College / Visiting Campus ... Newspapers

Visiting Campus ... Newspapers

Dave Berry
Written by Dave Berry | Jan. 28, 2016

There’s lots of excitement on the horizon over the coming months. College admission decisions will be issued. Along with those “fat envelope” (or should we call them “fat email”) verdicts comes another big decision: where to enroll.

Even those of you who have already been accepted via Early Action have until May 1 to make your enrollment decisions. One of the key ingredients in making that decision is finding out, in greater depth, your compatibility with a certain campus and its student body. Many of you may have applied to schools you know only by reputation or through anecdotal information provided by friends or what you’ve read, perhaps on College Confidential.

As you probably know, one of my ongoing mantras about making an enrollment decision is: “You’ve got to trod the sod!” which means that you must physically visit a school’s campus before making your decision to go there. I won’t get into the details of my rationale for saying this, but suffice it to say that your “gut” can tell you many things about a college  — both blatant and subtle — that you can’t discern from “virtual” tours, viewbooks, and marketing materials.

So, is there a viable alternative, short of a trod on the sod? One of the best, in my professional opinion, is exploring a college’s student newspaper. These sometimes extremely revealing publications can give you direct insight into the hearts and minds of a school’s student body, along with a look at what’s happening on campus and with so-called “town and gown” (student and community) relations.


Okay, then. So how do you do that? Here’s a Google page that has a great list of links to student newspapers. You’ll see some superb info, such as …

– List of student newspapers in the United States

– Best College Newspapers ..

– Top 50 College Newspapers

– Student Newspapers in United States

– College Newspapers: An Exhaustive List Of Campus Publications Maintained By University Students

… and so on.

Now, how can you get special insights about a school from merely reading its student newspaper(s)? Well, let’s start with student editorials. It’s always good to check the pulse of campus attitudes and the opinion page is a good place to start. Let’s check a few examples.

From the Swarthmore College Phoenix:

A response to “Privilege Doesn’t Exist” —

Around a month ago, an op-ed in the Daily Gazette raised some eyebrows when it claimed that privilege does not exist. It cited privilege as a “social construct”, and argued that compassion “is not a natural phenomenon.” While the mere utterance of the phrase “social construct” may cause eyes to roll, I would contend that everything is a social construct. However, the reality of something exists not in its construction, but in its effects.

Let me begin by saying that I am a sexist …

Nice opening, huh? Read on if you’re intrigued.

From the Penn State University Daily Collegian:

Suppression of freedom of speech on college campuses is unconstitutional —

I am writing you in regard to your editorial the other day about the regulation of free speech on collegiate campuses. The editorial this paper put on display is a brash contradiction to the meaning of the Constitution and clear advocacy for the suppression of Constitutional Rights …

From the Brigham Young The Digital Universe:

President Obama’s “New Executive Actions to Reduce Gun Violence” ignited a wave of conflicting public opinions this week. Meanwhile, North Korea’s nuclear testing claims left journalists asking, “What next?” …


That’s just a tiny sampling of the variety of attitudes you can review from the opinion pages and editorials in student newspapers.

How about what’s happening on campus? Even if you do an official visit and tour, you probably won’t be able to get an idea of the depth and variety of activities a school offers. That’s where their student newspaper can be a big help.

Here are some events from the University of Alabama’s The Crimson White:

“Bama Dining chefs teach cooking class on sauces” —

The Crimson Kitchen cooking series began Jan. 26 with their first class, “Learn Your Mother Sauces.” Chefs from around the UA campus gathered in Fresh Foods to teach students and community members the five basic sauces: Espagnole, Bechamel, Veloute, Hollandaise and tomato sauce.

LaShana Sorrell, marketing manager for Bama Dining, said she wants participants to have fun, but also to know that cooking can be easy …

That sounds cool … and delicious.

How about what’s happening at the University of Wisconsin, via The Badger Herald:

“Finals week: Top spots to cry on campus” —

… In the midst of these trying times, don’t feel like you have to hide your feelings of misery and despair! Having a good cry is a natural and deeply cathartic practice, and some experts suggest it may even be beneficial for your mental health.

At the same time, one must exercise discretion with their weeping. It’s inconsiderate to your peers to disturb their studies with your racking, anguished sobs.

Luckily, we’ve compiled a concise list of convenient and secure places to let out your wails of desperation. Good luck with finals! …

Ha! See? A student newspaper can meet many of your needs, even the need to weep about finals!


I just scratched the surface of how student newspapers can give you a unique look at a college’s atmosphere, attitudes, and happenings. You don’t even have to wait to get that admission decision to begin your exploration.

Get a jump on which schools seem more of a match for you. Read a student newspaper today!


Be sure to check out all my college-related articles at College Confidential.

Written by

Dave Berry

Dave Berry

Dave is co-founder of College Confidential and College Karma Consulting, co-author of America's Elite Colleges: The Smart Buyer's Guide to the Ivy League and Other Top Schools, and has over 30 years of experience helping high schoolers gain admission to Ivy League and other ultra-selective schools. He is an expert in the areas application strategies, stats evaluation, college matching, student profile marketing, essays, personality and temperament assessments and web-based admissions counseling. Dave is a graduate of The Pennsylvania State University and has won national awards for his writing on higher education issues, marketing campaigns and communications programs. He brings this expertise to the discipline of college admissions and his role as a student advocate. His College Quest newspaper page won the Newspaper Association of America's Program Excellence Award, the Pennsylvania Newspaper Publisher's Association Newspapers in Education Award, the Thomson Newspapers President's Award for Marketing Excellence and the Inland Press Association-University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Mass Communications Inland Innovation Award for the Best New Page. His pioneering journalism program for teenagers, PRO-TEENS, also received national media attention. In addition, Dave won the Newspaper Association of America's Program Excellence Award for Celebrate Diversity!, a program teaching junior high school students about issues of tolerance. His College Knowledge question-and-answer columns have been published in newspapers throughout the United States. Dave loves Corvettes, classical music, computers, and miniature dachshunds. He and his wife Sharon have a daughter, son and four grandchildren.

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