Sewanee University This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

May 20, 2008
Sewanee, TN: I recently spent time with a group of friends from high school. It was a year after graduation, and we had all attended different colleges across the Southeast. Of course the question arose, which school was best? Was it the right choice after the first year?

I could comment on a liberal arts education or give stats that any college guidebook or website would contain, but it’s what they don’t say that really matters. When I first came across Sewanee in the newest, thickest, most daunting guide to college, the book labeled Sewanee as a “rural” setting.

At Sewanee you find yourself on a mountain in the middle of Tennessee, but it is more accurately described as a domain. You leave behind the hustle and bustle. It was hard for many at first, myself included. Surrounded by neo-gothic buildings and looming oaks, there is little urbanity. Sewanee is a place where the sidewalk disappears, as if the infamous fog that settles over the mountain stole it. But that’s what Sewanee is all about: You can’t be afraid to wander into the fog, even if you can’t see more than five feet, to find the rest of the sidewalk. There might not be urbanity, but there sure is a lot of humanity and self-exploration.

Have I found myself? Not yet, but I feel closer. The liberal arts curriculum leads students from science to English, to philosophy, to forestry. And it all ties in. A discussion of religion in a math course? It’s not unheard of. Even more common are double majors: French and Biology, English and Geology. The professors encourage this type of academic pursuit.

When I left high school, I was afraid that I would lose the close ties I had with teachers. Thankfully, at Sewanee, this is not an issue. It is traditional for the students and faculty to meet outside of class for coffee or dinner.

Tradition is another element that sets this university of the South above others. Students wear academic gowns as an honor. Visitors tap the roofs of their cars to free their Sewanee “angels,” because it is said that you never need protection on campus. Above all, the honor code, which prohibits lying, cheating, and stealing, is upheld with great respect by all. I’ve never locked my room. I leave my detergent in the laundry room. I can happily report that nothing has been stolen.

Respect for others instills a sense of self-respect. It’s impossible to walk away without feeling the strong community present here. So what if our football team only won one game last year? That didn’t stop most of campus from coming to games. Everyone gets ­involved, from supporting each other to building houses for those who need them.

In times like these when modernity is crashing upon us, Sewanee is a nice change of pace, especially for your college years. It’s a place where you can explore and spend time with others, the natural world, and your own inner world. Sewanee is home to the unexpected: a cheerleader who is a chemistry major, a bagpipe-playing president of a fraternity (there are 12 fraternities), a model who happens to be a published author, and people who met ten minutes ago and are now good friends.

I told my high school friends I would defend for the rest of my life that Sewanee is the right choice for me. Even though the sidewalk has disappeared, Sewanee is going to help me get through the fog. I’ll conclude with the school motto, “Ecce Quam Bonum” (Behold how good!). Look and you will find just how good it really is.

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This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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This article has 7 comments. Post your own now!

Andrew1 said...
Dec. 17, 2011 at 7:09 pm
Wow great review I am going to look into this school
nancydrewgirl said...
Dec. 13, 2010 at 2:26 pm

I am a freshman who lives in Eastern Tennessee, but for two years, I lived in Sewanee. You have indeed captured the essence of what it was like to live there. When I lived there with my family, we never locked our doors, and we knew many people within the first 6 months of living there.

For anyone wishing to attend:

Sewanee is indeed a place set apart from anything you have ever seen. The beauty is astounding, the teachers are amazing, and the ciriculum, from what I hasve heard,... (more »)

Ellen Dawson said...
May 25, 2010 at 8:03 pm
First and foremost, thank you for taking the time to write this. I'm a sophomore in high school, and Sewanee is in my top five schools. I plan to visit next year, and this review has moved Sewanee up to my top two.
ReflectionsofYou said...
Dec. 29, 2009 at 11:22 am
I love the way you describe it:] sewanee was one of my first choices but I decided I liked to go to a college that lined up better with what I believe. But still, beautiful place, great review.
chlodaven said...
Jan. 19, 2009 at 10:07 pm
In your review, you did capture the very essence of Sewanee.. however, you forgot to mention the spellbinding beauty of the trees in autumn, the gorgeous scenery that accompanies the good education and the diversity that you see. I plan to attend Sewanee myself, but if at all possible, I would like you to report on that aspect of Sewanee, as you have already covered the major, personal points.
cathyellisonline said...
Jan. 5, 2009 at 9:25 pm
I am a 54 year oold"teeneager" who is a class of 1976 graqduate of sewanee. I found this on a google search of the two words ecce and Sewanee. what a delightful account of a place I love so dearly. I'm glad you are nowq part of the Sewanee family. Ecce Quam Bonum to you too!
cramspam said...
Dec. 11, 2008 at 8:50 pm
I wrote this article and I would like to point out a correction. It is not "Sewanee University" but as I indicated in the original copy, the name is "Sewanee: The University of the South". Please fix this. I've been abroad and haven't really had access to my email, but I would like to see this fixed.
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