Honorable Mentions

students smiling and laughing

By Lindsay Caplan, 2011 graduate of Carver Center for Arts and Technology: Towson, MD. Photo of School of Visual Arts.

This summer, my college visit turned into an extended stay when I enrolled in a pre-college program at my #1 school, School of Visual Arts, to get a more hands-on feel of what the school was like. This is a photo that was taken during my photography class. To me, this photograph represents college for two reasons, the first reason being that college is all about making friends and experiencing new things with them. While I was at SVA, I met the people in the photograph for the first time, and they became some of my best friends in just three short weeks. Together we experienced many new things, like exploring NYC by ourselves, getting lost on subways, and mostly living on our own in a new place. The other reason that I feel this photograph represents college, is because of its technical aspects. This photograph was taken on a medium format camera with a polaroid back, which I had never used before. Being at SVA gave me amazing opportunities like this to learn more about photography, which I want to major in. Going to college will allow me a greater opportunity to explore the world of photography.

ivy covered campus building

By Kevin Dam, 2011 graduate of Westwood Regional Jr./Sr. High School: Washington, NJ. Photo of Princeton University.

All ideas start with some sort of basis. From that point on, progress is made by adding to the existing foundation. Eventually, once everything is completed, the idea comes to fruition.
As I visited the beautiful campus of Princeton University, my eye was drawn toward the ivy on this building. The ivy gave the rather worn out and aging façade a refreshingly new air of prestigious and reinvention. That’s what I want my ideal college to do: to be able to take the ideas of yesterday and turn them into innovations for tomorrow. I want to create something that will better society as a whole.
College is a unique experience that grows on you. You make new friends, you educate yourself about the real world, and most importantly, you find new inspiration. I couldn’t help but get the feeling that if I attended Princeton, I would have so much opportunity to pursue my dreams and make my ideas tangible.
college students sitting on grass monument

By Miranda Ehrlich, 2011 graduate of Wayzata High School: Plymouth, MN. Photo of University of Dartmouth College.

To me, the ideal college should have a blend of strong academic traditions and an artistic, creative flair. My friends and I came across the sculpture in the photo while wandering around campus at Dartmouth. At some schools, such sculptures are shut up in galleries with glass barriers; however, this one was interactive and integrated into the campus. This sculpture was a free spirit, a symbol of the greater creative elements of the college. Yet, in the background, an old brick building served as a reminder of the centuries of academics pursued by previous students. As a college student, I don’t just want to learn from others; I want to add to the pool of ideas. I feel that the sculpture, literally lifting up the trodden ground and pointing it towards the sky, represents that desire well.
college stadium filled with fans

By Brooke Gentry, 2011 graduate of Memorial High School: Houston, TX. Photo of Texas A&M University.

For me, college is about being united with a group of people despite any differences. It is about sharing a mutual love for a school and finding your separate future in the same place as your neighbor. Texas A&M is the perfect fit for me because it represents everything about a college I want to be a part of. I took this picture at an A&M football game because the student section of the field portrays the tradition and love of Texas A&M. The Twelfth Man tradition began when E. King Wood was called from the stands, suited up, and stood ready throughout the rest of the football game when his team needed an extra player. This tradition remains today as each student stands, ready, for the Aggie team. It is because of this and many other traditions which bring the Texas A&M campus together that I want to be a part of the university.
handmade flier posted on tree
This photo was taken on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Asheville. Looking for the perfect college has been and continues to be an extremely difficult process and I have come to realize that academics it just a fraction of what is important to me in the perfect school. Atmosphere. That is what this picture represents because a large part of what college means to me is atmosphere. It’s a different environment from that of my home or my high school and I want to find a school where I feel comfortable. Asheville has a very artsy and radical atmosphere which has appealed to me greatly and is a key factor in why Ashville is currently my top choice of colleges.
campus directional sign post

By Lauren Griffith, 2011 graduate of De Paul Catholic High School: Wayne, NJ. Photo of Dickinson College.

Before arriving on the campus of Dickinson College campus I had done enough research to have an idea of what should be expected. The notes looked something like: 1) small liberal arts college, 2) located in the quaint town of Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and 3) has an emphasis on “going green”. I was fairly excited to tour the campus and to hear the students’ opinions of the school, since reading the school’s own website can only tell you so much. My expectations were certainly met over the course of the day as I saw the scenic layout of the school, heard the enthusiasm of both students and staff, and learned of the unlimited possibilities available to a Dickinson student. What took me by surprise, though, were the frequent references made throughout the day to obtaining a global education. In a quickly changing world Dickinson has accomplished something that many other colleges are still striving to do by not only teaching students the basic facts of their field, but also educating them on cultures beyond the back door. When I saw this sign while walking around the value of the emphasis placed on educating a global citizen became quite clear to me.
Oxford University

By Allison Hanrahan, 2011 graduate of Randolph High School: Randolph, NJ. Photo of Oxford University (Oxfordshire, UK).

College is memorable, beautiful, important, and life changing.
Just from this visit alone to this beautiful university I saw college in a completely different light. It is not about partying or cramming or just getting by, it is about the experience and the beauty of freedom. It is about loving where you are and realizing how wonderful life is,now that you have made it somewhere and are a part of somehting bigger than yourself.
After I took that picture, college as I knew it changed for me, and I hope when you look at this, it will change for you too.
empty college stadium

By Kelsey Klarman, 2011 graduate of Notre Dame Preparatory: Towson, MD. Photo of University of Florida (Gainesville, Florida).

I have always been a huge Florida Gators Fan. When I finally got the opportunity to visit the University of Florida campus I was beyond excited. With all the hustle and bustle of getting to Florida, finding a hotel room, and planning a tour, the last thing I expected was to actually go inside the Florida Stadium where my favorite football team plays and practices. On our extraordinary tour of the University of Florida the tour guides sat us down in the stadium and told us a story about their last home game of the season. The stadium was packed with more people than had ever fit into it before. The cheering was louder and with more enthusiasm than ever heard. This abundant show of school spirit actually caused a reading on The Rictor Scale of a small earthquake because of the vibrations coming from the stadium. This to me is what college is about, the extreme school spirit and support for the teams that represent your college.

college corridor adorned with international flags

By Gigi Leal, 2010 graduate of Notre Dame San Jose: San Jose, CA. Photo of University of Southern California (Los Angeles, CA).

My brother always talked highly of University of Southern California. I remember when he got there in his freshman year and called home to tell us how beautiful the campus was and how it was like entering a whole new world. He said everything was so different from high school, the class, the people, the clubs, the diversity. After four long years of waiting to visit his campus, our family was able to kill two birds with one stone when my brother’s graduation date arrived and I was visiting campuses to get a feel of different college environments before embarking on my upcoming college journey. I walked the campus of University of Southern California and studied the buildings and the people, but one building stuck out to me. Along the sides of this building were dozens of flags from all over the world blowing in the wind. I was mesmerized by the gorgeous portrayal of acceptance USC was representing.
NYU buildings

By Diana Tao, 2011 graduate of C. Leon King High School: Tampa, FL. Photo of New York University.

Speckles of dirt and sand were being blown into my eyes as I walked down the longest street in the United States. I was by myself exploring the city whose limits I knew better than the one I currently resided in; New York. Strolling along Washington Square one wouldn’t initially take into consideration the gargantuan burnt-orange buildings which protruded proudly from the sidewalks with New York University’s signature violet and white flags. These majestic buildings would first blend into their surroundings among skyscrapers until one took the opportunity to observe.
Some say NYU‘s campus is too vast, outstretched, intimidating, etc. However, to me the campus brings a sense of home and relaxation. For the first time in nine years, I can see the vivid hues of emeralds, rubies, golds and ambers as the maple leaves change from season to season. I can already imagine the people from diverse and international backgrounds conglomerating in Waverly Place and masses of new freshman, just like me, who will walk around the campus in a spellbound and flummoxed trance. The college experience is all about finding a place which fits you and not being afraid even to be that one lost freshman.
stone monument featuring roaring lion

By Corina Walbert, 2010 graduate of Mongomery Area High School, Montgomery, PA. Photo of Savannah College of Art and Design.

This is a photo of a monument in Chippewa Square in Savannah, Georgia. The lion is one of four guarding each corner with a larger statue on the pedestal behind it. I took the photo in February 2010 on a visit to the Savannah College of Art and Design‘s campus. To me, this photo represents college as a milestone of life that is to be honored and remembered, much like the figure honored and remembered with this monument.
It is a very significant event in one’s life, a time of learning, new experiences, and most importantly, self-discovery. One must also consider the fact that college is just one period of time within your life (unless, of course, you go on to graduate school.). It is important to remember the real reason you are in college, and that is to find a direction for your life after graduating from college. Those who forget this fact, often don’t finish college or get less out of the experience than they should, and therefore their monuments are less majestic and durable.
covered campus walkway

By Emily Wong, 2010 graduate of Santa Monica High School: Santa Monica, CA. Photo of Stanford University.

I was walking through the halls of Stanford University, chatting with my father about what it would be like to attend Stanford. I was glancing back at the Memorial Church that stood impressively behind me.
A small shout from ahead of me willed my attention back to the road in front of me, however, and that’s when I saw it.
There she was, a girl of about four years old, riding her tricycle and anxiously asking her father the same questions I had just been asking my own father. This young girl exuded a confidence that I found enrapturing- “When I go to Stanford, daddy, I’m going to change the world.”
As I learned from this young girl, the true spirit of college lies in learning how to carve out a life for yourselves, rather than succumbing to the wills of your parents and friends. After all, we’re all headed for that light at the end of the tunnel- it’s the path that we take to get there that defines us.
puddle reflecting tree

By Emma Young, 2010 graduate of Rampart High School: Colorado Springs, CO. Photo of Seattle Pacific University (Seattle, WA).

This picture was taken on the campus of Seattle Pacific University after a rainstorm. Coming from Colorado, where droughts are common and it is often so cold during fall, winter, and spring that any precipitation falls in the form of snow, experiencing the near-constant rain in Seattle was a welcome and refreshing change.
Welcome and refreshing changes are what define the college experience; you learn to look at the world with a new point of view, you step outside your comfort zone, and you experience life in a new place.
Your entire perspective of yourself, life, and the world is turned upside down, much like the view of the campus from this puddle. The transition from high school to college is a significant one, and being forced to see the world from another point of view can reveal beauty and new insight in ordinary things. You may learn to appreciate things you previously took for granted, and you may find that the new independence introduces you to new things to love about life.
College is about discovering yourself and the world, so take the time to look at your college campus, and life, from a new angle.
Yale University's Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library

By Yalun Zhang, 2012 graduate of Walnut High School: Walnut, CA. Photo of Yale University.

To me, college provides the keys to the countless doors of Knowledge. While visiting Yale University on my college hunt, I came across the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. Once I entered, I was immediately inspired by the 6 story glass paneled tower of books at the core of the building representing knowledge as the core of college. The building’s translucent Danby marble walls let in subdued light while the humidity and temperature of the tower are strictly regulated to protect valuable Knowledge. As I was told by the librarian that books are accessible but must stay in the building, I was relieved to hear that Yale not only preserves and protects Knowledge, but also promotes the expansion of it.
Walking around the library, I appreciated how the imbalance of the floors’ heights represented the path to unlimited knowledge. The first floor’s stairs led to the second floor, the last floor outside of the book tower which contains 5 stories of the 6 that make up the tower. Much like the nature of education, one must first take many steps above primary education before gaining access to the endless amount of knowledge available in college and beyond.