[oasis] [columns]



January 1998

Fat envelopes. Skinny envelopes. The last few weeks at my school have been full of talk about envelopes. For some seniors applying early decision a fat envelope meant very good news, while others will have to wait until spring to see if they got into the college of their choice.

Applying to college can be a very daunting experience. With so many colleges to choose from, each one with countless programs of study to offer, how do you find the one school that is perfect for you? I, for one, am of the opinion that there is no such thing as the one perfect school. Every student has a number of schools at which he or she would get a good education and at the same time be productive and happy among new friends and new surroundings.

The important part is narrowing down the seemingly infinite number of schools to a select list to which you will apply. Most people head out during junior year to visit prospective schools. You go on the tour and maybe even attend some classes and spend a night with a current student to see if a school feels right.

If you're gay, lesbian or bisexual, you probably have an additional concern that your straight friends don't have to worry about. You'll want to find a school that is a positive environment for a glbt student, whether you're in or out of the closet, or just thinking about being more out once you get to school. So what kind of questions should you ask about your prospective schools?

Is the school known as "gay-friendly?" Certain schools just seem to have reputations for creating a positive environment for gay students. I have friends at both New York University and Yale who say that those schools are great places to be gay. NYU, in particular, has a very large gay population and an administration that is responsive to their needs. Among other things, NYU runs workshops at the start of freshmen year to acquaint new students with the resources available to glbt students. You might want to hunt around a school's web site to see if there's any mention of what's available to gay students.

Does the school have an active glbt group? These groups can be a great resource for gay students. If you've attended a youth group at home, you'll probably want to find a similar place once you get to school. And if you're still in the closet, it's nice to know that there's a place on campus you can go to when you feel like taking that first big step out the closet door. You can find a couple of sites on the web that list schools with groups. For starters try LGBT Campus Resource Centers.

The "gay" aspect of a school is just one thing to consider when you're choosing where to apply, but for most of you it's worth factoring into the equation. Take a little time to look at what it's like to be gay at a particular college and you may add a few schools to your list that you might not have otherwise considered. No matter what schools you decide to apply to, however, I hope you get lots of fat envelopes!

As usual, you can send comments to me at BCEagleguy@aol.com. And if you want to find a glbt youth group near you, try the directory on my web page.

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