True to its namesake Sir Walter Raleigh, the Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, area remains a place of discovery and exploration for thousands of students attending its many colleges and universities. Boasting a strong local economy and a flourishing cultural scene, the state capital region shouldn’t be overlooked when it comes to applying to schools this fall.
School and Work
1. Variety of educational options
The Raleigh-Durham area is part of the “Research Triangle,” which is home to over 115,000 students. The region contains several large public universities as well as several smaller schools, including a private women’s college and two historically black universities.
“You can go small or go big,” says Michelle L. Day, director of financial aid at William Peace University. “From WPU to [University of North Carolina] Chapel Hill, the area offers an abundance of higher ed institutions. The Triangle has it all.”
Part of “having it all” also means offering affordable schooling options, such as Durham Technical Community College. According to the school’s president, Dr. Bill Ingram, “Tuition at Durham Tech is one-third of the tuition of a public, four-year university.”
2. Internships galore
“One great reason to attend college in the North Carolina Triangle region is the great business environment here,” says Ayana D. Hernandez, director of public relations at North Carolina Central University.
In addition to providing recent graduates with healthy job prospects, Raleigh’s booming local economy gives students the chance to gain valuable experience through internships.
“At Meredith College, students are working as interns in public health at the Carolina Population Center, and business majors are regularly interning at Lenovo and Merrill Lynch,” says Lindsey Ringenbach, associate director of admissions at the college.
“Research and internships are not just limited to students interested in the science or business fields. This area is also home to the annual American Dance Festival. Students involved in the dance program at Meredith College have the unique opportunity to intern at a world-renowned festival that takes place in their backyard every summer,” Ringenbach adds.
3. The working world awaits
After racking up valuable skills through internships, Raleigh-based graduates will be happy to learn that their work experience won’t be wasted on a poor job market. In fact, a NerdWallet study found that Raleigh is the seventh best city for recent college graduates.
“Opportunities abound with well-known medical and research facilities, in addition to numerous Fortune 500 companies and state and local government offices, which offer extensive internship possibilities leading to job placement after graduation,” says Jason Hall, assistant vice president for admissions at Campbell University.
Along with manufacturing and aerospace technology, Raleigh’s other major industries are biotechnology and green energy.
4. Quick getaways
From seemingly endless summer breaks to the occasional three-day weekend, college students enjoy a lot of time off. For those studying in the Raleigh-Durham area, popular vacation destinations are just a quick road trip away.
According to Ringenbach, Raleigh is in a “perfect location – two hours from the beach, three hours from the mountains.”
While the Outer Banks provide beachgoers with 200 miles of pristine shoreline, winter sports enthusiasts can hit the pistes of North Carolina’s many ski resorts when the weather gets colder.
5. The arts
Students won’t have to be on vacation to enjoy the Raleigh-Durham area. On weekends, students can attend one of the region’s many cultural festivals, ranging from dance to film, or can simply take a break from their meal plans by dining at one of the area’s many restaurants.
“A college student in the Research Triangle is never bored,” says Ringenbach. “Award-winning museums, restaurants, and concert venues are within minutes of the area’s colleges.”
The arts landscape is particularly rich, Hernandez says.
“Durham is known for its arts scene, with dozens of galleries, performance spaces and theater companies,” she adds. “The North Carolina Central University’s Art Museum houses one of North Carolina’s leading collections of works by African-American artists and by others dealing with the black experience.”
6. Rivalries on the court and the field
Students in the Raleigh-Durham area love showing their school pride on game days. From basketball to football, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to sport your school colors.
“I’ve lived in several places across the country, and nothing is better than college basketball on Tobacco Road,” says Day, referring to the basketball rivalries among powerhouses such as the University of North Carolina and Duke University. “The area also has some great college football. Oh, and you can’t forget about the Carolina Hurricanes,” the region’s National Hockey League team.
From its world-class academic institutions to its close proximity to first-rate vacation destinations, there’s a lot to like about the Raleigh-Durham area. You might even find yourself sticking around after graduation. Just ask Michael Schoenfeld, vice president for public affairs and government relations at Duke University.
“Durham is a magnet for smart, talented, ambitious, creative people from around the world,” Schoenfeld says. “What we find more than ever is students come to Duke for college and graduate school, then discover they love the area and make their careers and lives here.”
North Carolina flag photo via Shutterstock.