- Class: Senior
- Major: English
- Gender: F
- High School: Euclid High School
- Transfer Student: N
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.
Professors here are great. You'll never have a class taught by a "teaching assistant." Not only are professors around for office hours, but they're always willing to meet with you another time if you can't make those hours. With most of my professors, I feel like I can go in just to chat; I don't necessarily have to go to talk about a paper. I enjoy seminars more than lectures because they're smaller and discussion-based. I get to know people better in seminars, and that always includes getting to know the professor well, too. It's expected, and common, to participate in class dicussions. Frankly, when I meet a quiet and shy student I sometimes wonder how he or she ended up at Kenyon. Freshman year, I took a seminar in the Integrated Program in Humane Studies (which combines classics, history, and philsophy). We had great discussions, and at the end of the semester the professor invited us to his house for a croquet party. That was one of my favorite classes, followed by a 400-level English seminar on James Joyce. Students definitely get into intellectual conversations outside class, whether it's over dinner or in allstu (all-student, entire student body) emails. I got to know my English professor, Kim, really well when I went abroad. She was the resident director for the Kenyon-Exeter program for English majors, and the group of twelve students spent the entire year studying at the University of Exeter in England. Kim was a teacher, a stand-in mother, and a travel guide all in one. She saved us from dorm rat infestations, got us to 17 different plays, and put up with us without complaint. Study abroad in general is really popular here-- about 60% of the junior class goes abroad. Students are generally non-competitive. While people may commiserate over how much work they have to do, they don't compare grades. I don't know what GPAs my friends have. The academic requirements are great in that there is no single class you HAVE to take. If you wanted to go through college without taking an English class, you could do that here. We have distribution requirements, meaning that you just have to have a unit (two semester-long classes or one full-year class) of credit in each of four areas: social sciences, natural sciences, fine arts, and humanities. There's a Quantitative Reasoning (QR) requirement which requires you to take one semester-long course in something math/science related. Students who aren't into math and science can take courses like statistics, economics, Solar Energy, Science Fiction, or Surprises at Infinity. I'm not a fan of the language requirement (one full year of a language course). You can pass the requirement by scoring a 3 or higher on the subject's AP exam or passing a placement test at the beginning of the school year. I took four years of French in high school but apparently didn't learn enough, because I couldn't even pass out of intro French when I took the placement test here. So I took a year of Latin, which I was dreading. It ended up being okay-- it was a lot of memorization, but it was somewhat interesting. I was pretty much forced to take statistics this year to fulfill my QR requirement, and I've never studied that much for any other class. I was so relieved to pass the class, especially since sophomore year I had to drop economics 2/3 of the way through the semester. In econ, I understood the concepts but would get a test and not know what to do. The professor made it more complicated than it needed to be, and often half the class would go to his office hours for help. You don't have to get to Kenyon knowing what you'll major in. In fact, being undecided is encouraged because you can take a variety of classes and figure out what your passions are. You don't have to declare a major until fall of junior year. As an English major, I'm part of the largest major. There are about 75 English majors this year (compared to, say, four music majors). There are usually some really interesting topics (I'm loving my James Joyce seminar), but the unfortunate thing about having so many English majors is the competition to get into particular classes. The registration system isn't the best. This year, a few English majors actually spent the night in a tent outside the English cottage so they could have the first spots in line for class registration the next morning. It's discouraging to get shut out of a class in that way. Kenyon makes you think critically, and no matter what major you're in you'll get great training on being a good writer. I think these are skills that will be useful no matter what field I go into. The unfortunate thing about a liberal arts education is that the degree may not be as specific as some jobs will require you to have. For example, I want to be a high school English teacher. Kenyon doesn't have an education major, so after college I will have to go to grad school for a master's degree and get certified.
Because Kenyon is an expensive, private, liberal arts college, it's mostly made up wealthy white kids. The "minority" percentage of students is about 14%. However, we have the Unity House which does lots of LGBT programs, the Snowden Multicultural Center, Black Student Union, etc. There are black and white kids in the gospel choir. Students hail from all over the country and a number of foreign countries to, and I'm willing to guess that about the half students come from private schools and half from public high schools. There's definitely some snobbery. For instance, I had a friend here whose dad is the vice president of a major company. Once when we were in his car, my friend asked me what I thought of his car. I said, "It's really nice," and it was. He actually said, "Yeah, this is what happens when your family does very well for itself." However, most people don't shove it in your face if they've got money. Personally, I went to a public school with 2,200 kids. Fights in the halls were common. You don't find too many students from that kind of high school here. I think the people who feel most out of place here are the ones who barricade themselves in their rooms and don't make an effort to get to know people. People aren't just going to come to you-- you have to go to them. At the dining hall, most people sit with the people who live on their hall. I don't mind eating meals by myself sometimes; it's not seen as weird. Students are very politically active. They're overwhelmingly democratic and liberal. I'm sure there were people who voted for Bush in 2004, but I only knew one person and he didn't make it common knowledge.
The Best Things
The enthusiasm students have for Kenyon
The Worst Things