The following reviews are the views of students or alumni at this school and are unrelated to the school data and other editorial content on usnews.com. These reviews neither reflect nor impact a school's position within the Best Colleges rankings.
Kenyon is a tiny school in a tiny town - it's too small and isolated for me, but that's obviously something of personal taste, though that tends to be the feeling after four years. This lends itself to an excellent academic atmosphere in which students and professors interact outside of the classroom when they bump into each other getting coffee or at performance, etc. Unfortunately, this also creates a very intense social situation in which you live in closes quarters for four years just over 1000 people. The best thing about Kenyon is the small classes and the professors. I would change the Greek system, either by getting rid of it, or adding legitimate, NATIONAL sororities to give girls an option equivalent to the entrenched fraternity system, which controls much of the social life (basically, the school needs to make up its mind, since it is very Greek, but pretends not to be). When I tell people I go to Kenyon, they either have never heard of it (most often), or know someone who went there/have no strong reaction. Well, I spend just about all of my time on campus, like everyone, and on campus, I am outside when it's nice, in the coffee shop, bookstore, or study lounge working and socializing, or in my room trying to snag a bit of time alone. The town of Gambier and Kenyon really aren't separated; in fact, Kenyon's campus exists on either side of the main drag of town, so it's all basically the school. It has a couple of bars and a deli, coffee shop, etc, but nothing else. You NEED a car, even just to go to a movie or to buy toiletries. Kenyon's administration seems to be a bit out of touch with the reality of the school, maybe trying to make it into some "New Ivy" cookie-cutter school. The most recent campus controversy was over the proposed addition of swipe-card entrances to dorms, which was loudly and overwhelmingly opposed by students. The administration wanted to appease parents, and students want to keep Kenyon the small-town kind of community that it is. There is a certain kind of school pride - not in athletics, except for from athletes, but in its quirkiness. I'm not sure if Kenyon is all that different from a lot of small, rural liberal arts schools - they all have their traditions and quirks, but I will say that that experience is very singular and bonding. You could take two kids from the same class who are different and never meet, and in ten years, they would have very different memories.
The best thing about Kenyon is how students stick together. It's a small community , and the students are definitely their own little group within it. Unfortunately, the school is trying really hard to be an Ivy-type school with less personality. It used to be that most people at Kenyon were really unique, smart, and usually quirky people, but now it's pretty cookie cutter students from New England prep schools. Again, most people haven't heard of Kenyon, so when I tell them I went there, they kind of go blank. It's OK, I know how good of a school it is, even if they don't. There have been a LOT of recent controversies at Kenyon, most of them to do with the administration making unilateral decisions about student life. I spent most of my time at Middle Ground, the coffee shop on campus, or at the Cove, which used to be the only bar in town. There are a lot of unusual things about Kenyon -- its basically in the middle of a corn field, so you're going to have your unique experiences.
The best thing about Kenyon is the academics. Come rain, come shine, the academics make everything else worth it. I spend most of my time in my room or at the library, alternately doing homework and taking a break from doing homework by chilling with friends, watching movies, etc. Then on the weekends we spend a lot of time at the coffee shop, MiddleGround, which is sort of a social hub, or out at parties in dorm lounges and apartments. There is often a lot of drama surrounding the administration--I think the student body feels that they don't listen enough to student input in making decisions, but really I just think that Kenyon tends to be afraid of change. For example, the whole school is in an uproar over the pending installation of a proxy card security system on the outer doors of the residence halls. It's really just to quell parent fears after stuff like Virginia Tech, but everyone's got their panties in a twist because it's going to be tough to get used to carrying a card everywhere. We LOVE the whole "Kenyon community" thing. We love being able to brag that we don't have to lock our doors at night. I think that's one thing that people have a lot of pride about. The small town close-knit community thing is really what makes us Kenyon. I swear, the admissions brochures aren't lying. We have so much school pride. Nearly everyone who's ever been affiliated with Kenyon--students, faculty, alumni--we don't just like Kenyon, we LOVE Kenyon, and we will talk to you about it all day. If you meet a Kenyon grad on the street, you're automatically best friends. From talking to friends who go to other schools, I think it's rare and very special to love your school as much as we do. And you'll see more spirit wear on campus than you can shake a stick at. We love that purple.
Most of the time when I tell people I went to Kenyon, their response is "Where?" You most likely won't score any impressive looks from people who ask where you go to college as most people have never heard of it. But if you're among the more literature-versed of crowds, chances are they know about Kenyon and their reaction will be "Wow. That's a really good school." Don't go to Kenyon because you want to impress everyday people on the street with your undergrad credentials: go because you want to be there. If you do, you will have the best four years of your life. I guarantee it. In response to the large boost in applications received every year, the administration has slowly been taking steps to bring Kenyon "up to date" with other colleges in the country. Most of these changes have been met with large volumes of student protest--students want to keep Kenyon feeling like Kenyon. People don't lock their doors, all dorms are open at all hours of the day and night, and a sense of trust exists among the community in Gambier. Some of the biggest controversies in recent memory include the Master Plan to completely overhaul the layout of Kenyon's campus, the proposal to sell the bookstore to Barnes & Noble (which didn't happen thanks to student protests), and the forthcoming installation of ID card readers on all academic buildings and dorms. The students take a lot of pride in Kenyon and its atmosphere and any proposals to "update" the school to be more like bigger state schools have been met with immense opposition from a very vocal student body. At Kenyon, your passions in life probably already have their own club--and if not, start one! There are more traditions--both school-approved and not--than I can recount in one little article, but suffice to say you'll learn them all by the end of your freshman year. The dining hall food isn't the best, but it's available all day and the school recently created a partnership with local farmers to help promote the local agricultural economy. As for what I miss the most, I will never again see an autumn as beautiful as one at Kenyon.
I like the campus a lot. It is very open and pretty, especially South campus. The athletic center is very good - it has a range of things to do and it's still new, so all the facilities are state-of-the-art. I like the size - I don't know everyone who goes here; it's always nice to meet new people who happen to be acquainted with friends or people who are completely outside your circle. Fortunately, the small campus gives Kenyon a more community feel - there are less cliques and more openness than at my high school, which had about 700 more people crowded into a smaller space. I think I would change the administration. Although I do not know them very well (or perhaps because I don't), I find it hard to connect and agree with things that they do. I do not feel respected by the President of Kenyon and some of the Deans. People Nugent has hired seem to view college students as young children. I feel a huge disconnect between the administration and the students. I also feel like there is some disconnect between the staff and the administration. This does not create an aura of trust. Kenyon may have problems accepting change, but this is not necessarily a bad thing - the administration, however, seems to think it is. Any project they want to initiate that the students do not is blamed on our inability to change, even if the students have a legitimate argument. For example, the administration has felt pressure from parents to put in swipe cards to get into the dorms and possibly the academic buildings. They claim that it is for our safety; it could prevent bomb threats and incidents like Virginia Tech (VT had swipe cards, however). Obviously, swipe cards are not going to prevent bombs or bomb threats. Kenyon residents hold doors open for other people, which could give someone with a bomb access. Swipe cards are definitely not going to protect students from bombs placed outside the building, either. The moral here is that if someone wants to gain access to a building for good or ill, they will. Swipe cards are easily stolen, lost, or bypassed. This is logic, not inability to accept change. -the swipe card issue may be more about liability than anything else. If something does happen, Kenyon leaves itself vulnerable to attack if it does not have swipe cards. This is a logical reason, even if the people who attack are not being logical. If the administration would just admit this, I think Kenyon students would be less annoyed. At the moment, we feel lied to and belittled. Overall, I do not think Kenyon students are happy with the administration. We believe they are taking Kenyon to a place we don't want to go - we want to remain unique, but it is hard when the charm of Kenyon is being wiped out by modern-style buildings, conservatism, and an era of mistrust. However, I may be a little annoyed because the tuition is so high, which I (perhaps mistakenly) blame on the administration. If I am on campus, I usually am in an academic building or one of the study lounges. I also like to go to the garden at the Brown Family Environmental Center when it is warm out, which has wireless internet access, so I can do work and be outdoors. Gambier is mostly Kenyon - there is access to food, books, school supplies, mail, etc., but unfortunately to buy more exotic things (like non-Kenyon clothing), we must travel to Mount Vernon (a five-minute drive). I prefer this, though, because it means that I am not tempted to buy too much and going to pick up something simple like an air freshener turns into a road trip with your friends.
The best thing about Kenyon is the sense of community. I first got a taste of Kenyon when I came here for a two-week writing program the summer before my senior year of high school. Even though there weren't many students around at the time, I loved the fact that everywhere I went people smiled and said "hi" to me. Gambier is super small (only 350 full-time residents), and the village doesn't have a single traffic light. Everytime you go outside you see someone you know. Students share post office boxes with other students and run into professors while checking mail at the post office, and you'll inevitably go to dinner at a professor's house at least once during your time here. People are here because they genuinely want to be here. Students are curious, ambitious, and open to seeing things from a different angle. I've never met anyone here who hated Kenyon, and that enthusiasm is contagious. As a result, students and professors care intensely about the current state and the future of the college. When something doesn't seem right, students get talking about it. Recently there's been some controversy over the possibility of installing a proximity card lock system on the dorms. As it stands right now, the dorms have never been locked. Each dorm room has a lock, of course, but you can walk right into any building here. Overall, Kenyon and Gambier are extremely safe. I've walked home alone at night and not felt scared or threatened, there are blue light emergency phones all over campus, and security vans are always patrolling the streets. However, the administration says that installing locks on the dorm is a liability issue. Students are concerned that having the locks will take away from Kenyon's character and its trusting environment. Instead of just whining about it, students held a protest when the trustees came to campus to discuss the locks. Lately it seems like there have been more issues than ever with the administration. There's been turnover in some of the higher-up offices, and I suppose that naturally you'll get people who are unhappy with the "new regime." I think the biggest problem with it is that sometimes it doesn't seem like the administration really talks to the students or informs us about its plans until after those plans have been put in place. Kenyon was also in a news in 2004, when students stood in line until 3am to vote in the presidential elections. The village had only allotted two voting machines for students and residents, and some people stood in line for ten hours. That's a sign of Kenyon students' devotion. I went to a high school which doesn't send many students to liberal arts colleges. When I tell people from Euclid that I go to Kenyon, they usually say "What? You go to school in Africa?" (Amusingly, Kenyon's bookstore sells a shirt that says "Kenyon is not near Uganda.") However, Kenyon is pretty highly regarded among liberal arts colleges and the academic world in general. On campus, I like to hang out at Middle Ground, the cafe/coffeehouse. It's a great place to study or meet up with friends, and they make incredible breakfasts.
Emily SeniorReviews provided by: Unigo