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Finding the Right School
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We don't need to tell you that there's a wide array of colleges, from the sprawling state university in your hometown to the tiny liberal arts college across the country. While most are welcoming of LGBTQ students, there are certainly advantages and disadvantages to each type.
Here are some questions to consider as you're deciding where to go:
Home or Away
If you've developed a strong support network while in high school, then staying close for college might be the way to go. On the other hand, getting out of Dodge can be liberating. Leaving town allows you to explore your sexuality in a fresh environment, one that will provide exposure to a diverse range of people and ideas.
Don't rule out going away for college just because money is tight. There are plenty of work–study programs, financial aid and scholarships out there. Some are even designated specifically for LGBTQ students.
Large University or Small College
When it comes to size, there are the obvious implications. Large schools offer more of everything – more activities, more classes, more living arrangements and more students. Amongst the abundance, you're likely to find a thriving LGBTQ network.
Of course, mammoth universities can feel overwhelming. Small colleges are dedicated to providing undergraduates with a strong sense of community and a first–rate academic experience. Many are extremely supportive of LGBTQ students. However, a smaller student body means that the queer social network will be smaller as well.
Rural or Urban
Rural campuses offer a relaxed atmosphere and easy access to outdoor activities. The downside of going to school in an isolated area is obvious–there's no quick escape. As an LGBTQ student, you might find yourself without a lot of activities specifically tailored to you.
College towns tend to be open–minded and relatively cosmopolitan; they often attract LGBTQ staff and faculty looking for an accepting place to live and raise their families. Not all college towns are alike, however, so do your research before you apply.
Of course, if you're craving anonymity, cities are the way to go. Cities offer greater diversity, in terms of both people and activities. And an urban setting means that LGBTQ resources will be easier to locate and, in some places, actually abundant.
For some queer women, attending a women's college can be an empowering experience. You may feel a stronger sense of community and freedom to explore your identity and sexual orientation. For others, attending a women's college can be an isolating experience with few opportunities to interact with those of other genders or backgrounds.
Men's colleges are few and far between these days, and they tend to be much less accepting of LGBTQ students. Queer men should investigate single–sex schools thoroughly before making the decision to attend.
Don't Ask, Don't Tell
If you're contemplating attending a military academy, you should be aware that the United States currently prohibits openly gay, lesbian and bisexual men and women from serving in the armed forces. That means that you have only one option: to adopt their "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy and remain silent about your sexual orientation. For some, the tradeoff may be worth it. But make sure you fully consider what you're getting yourself into.