Leaving Shreveport after celebrating an uncle’s 92nd birthday, I headed an hour south to Natchitoches, LA on a tip from one of the party attendees that Northwestern State University was a campus not to miss. I like to visit college campuses. I like to feel the vibes of a campus and see how the university interacts with the community. I am glad I went and plan to return to Natchitoches to spend time in what I found to be one of the most charming small towns I’ve visited. Natchitoches was voted #1 Best Southern Small Town by USA Today.

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Natchitoches is the oldest town within the Louisiana Purchase territory, established in 1714, and its intact downtown stretches out along the Cane River, reminding one of a stroll through New Orleans French Quarters. Complete with B&Bs, their Christmas celebration was in full swing; shops, a basilica, and even a French fort are within walking of both downtown and NSU. NSU grounds were first a catholic school and then became the state’s normal college – that’s an old name for teacher’s college. What I found intriguing about the grounds were the mix of old buildings with new. Some colleges don’t strive to have the new buildings mesh with the architectural style of the old, but NSU managed to finesse the process. Their team mascot for Division I sports is the Demons – a bit ironic considering the school’s beginnings.

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Admission for all students requires students to meet the Regent’s Core Curriculum, have a 2.35 high school GPA, and with these criteria met, no minimum ACT score is needed. Students must also need not more than one developmental course. They can have a 2.0 GPA with an ACT composite of 20. Out-of-State students can qualify for in-state tuition if students have a 2.75 GPA and a composite ACT score of 21 or SAT score of 990.

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NSU awards a variety of scholarships based upon standardized test scores (ACT/SAT) and high school GPA. Performance scholarships are also awarded by class rank, GPA, standardized test scores, and participation in extracurricular activities. Scholarships are awarded via completing the FAFSA. NSU is also a Louisiana Scholars’ College, a comprehensive interdisciplinary honors curriculum in liberal arts and sciences. Find out more at www.nsula.edu/scholars. There are multiple scholarship deadlines.

A Division I school, they compete in 14 sports. They have a new state-of-the-art wellness center. Dorms choices include on-campus apartment style residence halls and an on-campus apartment complex. Students under 21 are required to live on campus unless exempted, as are all students attending schools within the University of Louisiana system.

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Cost of attendance is approximately $3400 a semester. Out-of-state not qualifying for in-state tuition can expect to add $8800/semester. An affordable education for students and parents!

Want to know more? Check them out at www.nsula.edu. The woman who sent me to NSU knew what she was talking about when she said I should go check out the campus. If you’ve been to Natchitoches or attended NSU, please share your experiences.

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Kira Janene Holt writes an blogs on college planning at www.CollegePlanCoach.com. Find her books on college planning at https://www.amazon.com/Kira-Janene-Holt/e/B006Q9ZCZ2/.