College Feature: Touring the University of San Francisco

By: Rose Mannas

Campus Sherpa Staff Writer, University of San Francisco

Do you ever look back at photos of yourself, and think about different things were when you were in the picture? The photo above was taken in May 2013 when I was a mere 17 year old trying to make a college choice. I am pretty sure that shirt ended up in a charity donation bin and those sunglasses fell in the lake years ago. Save that ‘Freshman <3’ photo album on Facebook, no matter how embarrassing the photos inside of it are (don’t worry, you can set it on private if you no long want your aunt seeing you on a very awkward welcome weekend trip).

I am from Texas, which is needless to say not close at all at USF. I had only been to San Francisco once in my life. Pretty much all I remembered was getting a dorky hat from In-and- Out (oh so ‘Californian’) and going to Ghirardelli Square. Obviously this was before college was on my mind. When I told my parents I want to check out a school in California, they were obviously surprised. Coming from a hardcore Longhorn family, was I expected to be in love with UT Austin. Luckily for me, my older sister ended up at UT and I was a bit more free to break away from the status quo.

We booked our trip for a Friday—Sunday to see the school and check out the city. We spent Friday just getting into the hotel and adjusted to the time zone, but first thing on Saturday morning we were rolling into the USF camps, the street banners egging on the anticipation. I knew we were approaching the school when you could see the church tower from over the steep hills. I practically ran up the steps in the photo you see above as soon as my parents could snap the picture to get into the admissions office to take my tour.

Although I recommend getting an official school tour, it felt very stiff. My tour guide was not in the major I wanted to be in and did not take us inside any of the buildings. However, he did have great information and could answer most questions I had. Two things really shocked me about the school, and my thoughts sounded something like this:

  1. Where in the world am I?

  2. Where are the students? I said ‘where in the world’ because USF’s campuses are separated my a small, privately owned neighborhood. You sort of have to walk through people’s yards to get to the two different sides of campus.

I said ‘where are the students’ because.. it was a ghost town. I get it, people are hung over or exhausted and are not ready for breakfast at 10am. But, really? There was maybe 10 students I saw total on my tour. This SCARED me. I immediately jumped to the conclusion that students at USF all went home on the weekend. I understood that many students are local & from the bay area. I, on the other hand, would be 1500 miles from home and can’t make quick trips home on the weekends for birthdays and such. Would I feel abandoned? Where were the students?

It took me through the first month of freshman year to answer my own question: Yes, some students go home. But most students just enjoy San Francisco on the weekends! Why would you stay on campus when you can have an entire city at your disposal. Students are at festivals, farmers markets, exploring new neighborhoods, trying iconic restaurants, and taking day trips around the Bay via ferry and BART. But, like I said, that took until I was a student to understand. I beg you not to let the ghost-town appearance of campus on the weekends intimidate or disappoint you. There is a reasonable reason!

I have some tips on how to know if the school might a good choice for you after you finish your tour…

• YES- Did you see yourself there? I mean REALLY SEE. I could picture myself taking classes in these buildings, studying on the lawn, and utilizing the great library.

• NO- Did you have a positive attitude during your tour? Did you keep having negative comments creep into your head while you were looking at things?

-I don’t like that

-These students don’t look like people I would like to hang out with

-When is this tour going to be over

My tour experience really made me see myself at a school I had only experienced through the photos online. Ultimately, the tour was vital to my decision. I think it is unwise to choose a school without stepping on the campus. Make time for yourself to see the school, and especially talk with students!

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