How to Pick a College: Part 5 Special Collections

opened book with arabic lettering on sheets
Empowerly Team
Empowerly Team

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Academic life changes greatly from high school to college. For example, think back to the difference after transitioning from middle school. As you did, topics and assignments grew more refined and specialized. The same jump will occur because of the vast intellectual offerings and facilities that can support academic inquiry. At Empowerly, we encourage in-depth research to uncover all of the unique collegiate opportunities. Similarly, informed college decisions should weigh academic potential, like special collections access.



Not all libraries are created equally- some afford special access to students. Library collection differ in content as relics of the past often deteriorate beyond recognition or simply disappear. In contrast, universities typically house special records across discipline with requests processed search engine or in-person query. This is different from typical book requests as aged manuscripts and documents line their shelves.

Stanford’s Hoover Institute offers special access to 20th century political developments as well as countless artifacts. Students interested in international relations for example could revel in the handling of archival transcripts, including American diplomats’ interviews on Iranian-American relations in the ‘60s and ‘70s. Access to such contents is rare and sometimes draws students from around the world. College decisions certainly come with their (dis)advantages.

Historical Tools

Academic and personal interests frequently overlap. Music is one such space wherein universities offer rare opportunities to engage with instruments. Imagine sorting through musical compositions from the 17th century. Universities vary in the contents of their historical vaults sometimes house unique hardware. Students can pair archival exploration with musical instruments. For example Stanford’s Fisk-Nanney Organ allows skilled students to recreate authentic Baroque sounds in the style written on antique musical sheets.

Research Laboratories

Government funding supports much of the academic research at universities. They sometimes house special laboratories dedicated to specific inquiries. UC Berkeley’s Lawrence National Laboratory is one of many labs where developments across the energy, bio, computer and sciences as well as  physical technologies prosper.

These labs often make significant strides in specialized areas like particle acceleration. During the summer, internships open for students under the direction of the overall organization. Students apply for positions and work alongside renown researchers. Pairing academic studies with unique university-specific offerings is important. So consider those special collections. These factors often prove to be a compelling case in college decisions.

Questions? Let us know!