By Simon Boes
Most Sewanee students call the The University of the South their favorite place in the world. It may take a few days, several weeks, or a couple of years, but the praise that our school receives from alumni astounds many. I myself saw a tear in my mom’s eye as I accidentally referred to Sewanee as “home” over my first break.
Sewanee consistently comes out on top of Alumni Factor’s rankings. The website, which surveys alumni to uncover graduate success based on fifteen key areas, has uncovered the extraordinary outcomes of the experience of living, learning, and creating friendships on the Domain. Alumni testify to Sewanee’s contributions to their intellectual development, social development, friendship development (second place), and overall assessment (ninth place), meaning that when students leave, they adore the college experiences they accrue in four short years on the Plateau. This puzzles some people because Sewanee is relatively “under the radar,” considered a gem of the South.
Recently, the school’s acceptance rate has dropped from the mid-sixties to the high thirties, sparking a discussion about the school. These current student journalists relay their thoughts, marking a checkpoint in the progress and state of The University of the South.
“Sewanee has made me mentally stronger,” Frances Marion Givhan (C’18) says. “I know how to handle myself in a wider community, and I feel confident in the decisions that I make.”
Robert Beeland (C’18) says, “Sewanee has made me a happier person. I feel like I am constantly in contact with the nicest people on Earth. I feel like I go to school in a Utopia. Sometimes I think, ‘Oh, there is a lot of things I have to do,’ but that reversion to the mean still makes me think I am in the best place on Earth with the best people. And things are still alright.”
Hadley Montgomery (C’18) says, “I’m more well-rounded, even in areas that may not be my forté. I no longer avoid subjects that are outside of my element. I engage in conversation.”
In one conversation with Jon Meacham (C’91) Lam Ho (C’17) recalls, he said, “The small liberal arts environment introduces you to so many different characters. I can honestly say there is not one situation I was unable to handle after coming to Sewanee.”
Ho adds, “Sewanee certainly isn’t easy, but the difficulties force you to hold yourself accountable to represent the best version of yourself, no matter where you end up in the future. The hardest moments of my life have happened while I’m physically here, whether the difficulties were coming from family and friends in Georgia or at the heart of the Domain, but most of the time I’m thankful that I’ve had to face the person in the mirror and realize that I can overcome hardship, usually with the help of my Sewanee family. On the other hand, I have questioned during each semester of my time here whether or not this is the right place for me. I wish I could respond to this question, which pummels my conscience almost every day, with positivity. All I can say is that Sewanee certainly teaches a number of valuable lessons, which might hurt a great deal, and hopefully we all come away with memories that keep us coming back, year after year.”
I don’t think our four years here are necessarily a battle. However, it is about learning about yourself, your environment, and your work, and finding your ambition, your passion, and your power.
Photo courtesy of University of the South Flickr