Appleton, WI: I visited Lawrence University and was quite impressed by the friendliness of the students.
I had been debating whether or not I wanted to go to school far from home, but I knew I wanted a rather small liberal-arts school. Lawrence fulfilled this criteria with 1,350 students and a bit of Midwestern flair. I highly recommend more people from the South and West visit because it deserves a closer look. Right now, most students are from Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota.
The first time I saw Lawrence’s campus, I was in an airplane over the middle of Wisconsin. My parents were embarrassing me, pointing out the window and shouting which got the attention of other passengers. Even though it was already getting dark, I was attracted by the river and the chapel, one of the main architectural features of the campus.
We took a taxi to the 84-acre campus in the middle of downtown Appleton (more of a big town than an actual city – unlike my home town). I was dropped off at the admissions office, which was actually in a small house, and hurried to the conservatory to watch a jazz ensemble rehearse. I play alto saxophone, and so the music scene (one of the best for undergraduates, I understand) was a draw. The jam session was phenomenal.
Then, I met my student host and we chowed down. The food was fairly average, but I could certainly handle it. That night I hung out at the campus coffeehouse and chatted with some sophomores, asking as many questions as I could think of. They all gushed about their experiences. The school just felt right and I could relate well to everyone I met.
The next day I had an opportunity to talk to a professor in the Spanish department, attend a Spanish class, eat lunch with the Christian fellowship and observe a saxophone lesson and wind ensemble rehearsal. In addition, I had a tour of the compact campus and an interview with an admissions officer. I was certainly not going to let any opportunities to slip away after traveling so far!
If you are looking for a strong conservatory of music and an equally challenging college in northern climes, I would certainly recommend checking out Lawrence University.