- Class: Senior
- Major: Religion
- Gender: F
- High School: Lakeside High
- Transfer Student: N
Grinnell is definitely small, and it definitely takes less than an hour of ambling in any given direction to hit cornfields. The college does a truly impressive job of bringing cultural activities to campus, however. Look at today's events on the campus calendar. Look at this week's. I couldn't hit all the interesting lectures, films, student groups, and concerts if I tried. Being a small campus does mean you can't get lost in the crowd. I'm a senior, and by now I know a goodly chunk of the students and profs by sight or hearsay. School pride is an interesting question. Most of us love Grinnell, but no one walks around painted red and black, and most people only follow the sports that their friends happen to play. There are no frats and sororities. On any given weekend you can find a dozen wild parties if you want that, and you can find a dozen substance-free gatherings if you don't. There's no pressure to pick a particular style of recreation.
I'm not sure I've ever gone through a class without the prof learning my name, my year, and my interests. If you don't show up and don't email the prof, s/he will contact you to ask what's wrong. Class discussions vary, of course, but generally students are truly engaged, and intellectual life is just as vibrant at the lunch table or on the quad as it is in the classroom. I'm friends with most of the profs in my department. Open curriculum is really nice: there are ridiculously liberal limits to the number of courses you can take in one department or division (most people never have to worry about hitting them), and each major has its own requirements, but you have a great deal of flexibility to follow your academic passions.
Suits, medieval gowns, sweats, t-shirt and jeans--I've seen it all in class. I've found a wonderful, religiously diverse group of friends whose religions are important to them, but I've heard others complain that their religiosity--especially if it's Christian--has alienated them from their companions. What would a survey of four dining hall tables look like? Table 1 is full of geeks. Some of them may be in fantasy or medieval garb, if there's a special event that day. They may be discussing the weekend's Dungeons and Dragons session, the relative merits of different versions of Star Trek, or contingency plans for the zombie apocalypse. Or, y'know, today's class debates, dining hall food, national politics, etc. We're normal people too. Table 2 is the Ultimate Frisbee team. I can't hear what they're talking about, but they're laughing a lot and clearly enjoying each other's company. Someone flings a banana peel down the table and yells, "SQUID!!" Everyone else takes up the cry, stabbing at the peel with their forks as it passes. As soon as it's thoroughly dead, conversation resumes as if nothing happened. Table 3 is a group of environmentally-minded students debating how to make the campus more green. Someone is giving an impassioned speech about how energy inefficient the newly-constructed buildings are. Someone else is talking about improving the (already quite good) dorm recycling program. And that girl from Free the Planet is complaining that Victoria's Secret is still printing thousands of catalogues on old-growth forest paper. Table 4 is a freshman tutorial reunion. They're catching up on each other's lives, talking about relationships, majors, and future plans. Two of them are still close friends three years after their tutorial. Many of them have only seen each other in passing since, or had a few classes together. No one's forgotten each other, though.