I have been out of town for the past two weeks - I apologize for the lack of posts I managed to complete on the road - on a whirlwind trip to six different colleges. My lovely mother organized quit the itinerary for us (tours, info sessions, shadowing students, going to lunch with vague aquaintances to get the "inside scoop," etc.) but of course, the first thing I noticed at all the schools was the clothing. I suppose that is superficial, but that's why they say to dress for success: there is no way around the fact that your outfit is your first impression. But is this an accurate way to measure anything about the student body?
Without naming any names (of colleges, that is), I observed two very different scenes at the two schools I saw last week. One was brimming over with the typical female collegiate: Northface jacket and Ugg boot wearing ponytailed prepster, with a slight look of sleeplessness to offset the starched polo shirt. There were also the usual male suspects: pastel polos, kacki shorts, topsiders, etc. There is nothing wrong with this look, and in fact, I have started to realize that it suits college life quite well.
I personally, however, have never been very practical, or satisfied with the "classic look," so I liked the second school's style a bit better. There were plenty of students who fit the discrpition above, but there was a much higher percentage of everything else you can think of. Most people looked artsy, alternative, trendy, hippie, or even a mild sort of punk. I saw a lot of guys in skinny jeans and scarves (but not in an emo way...in most cases) and with an unusual amount of facial hair.
So what does this mean? Do the stark differences between the fashion senses of the student bodies reflect differences in their personalities, interests, focuses, or social demeanors? I think they might. After talking to several students from each school, I got the sense that most of the kids from the "School A," we'll call it, came from similar backgrounds, had a common view of what college life was all about, and seemed to participate in the same social scene. Students from School B, however, talked about how yes, there a lot of "alternative types" at their school, but that is because of the wide spectrum of ideas and opinions. Nobody there dresses unusually for attention, but to reflect their individuality, but at the same time there is no pressure not to be too "mainstream." It is just a very eclectic mix of people and everyone is respected for what he or she brings to the table.
Is one school better than the other? That depends entirely upon the prospective student and what they're looking for in a school.