Quantifiable factors fail to communicate quality

by Sena Hughes

I have recently seen the posts of high school seniors rolling in on Facebook wondering, contemplating, fretting and panicking about the notorious college decision. They wonder if they should attend big schools, small schools, private schools, public schools, schools close to home, or schools as far away as possible.

I chuckle a little bit as I read the anger of those students, but not because their feelings aren’t legitimate. Indeed, it is a big decision to choose where you will spend the next four years of your life. I remember those feelings of indifference, frustration, and excitement. I remember the sting of a rejection letter and the satisfaction of an acceptance. I remember restless nights of wondering how on earth I would ever get to the bottom of what seemed to be the abyss of factors, feelings and fears.

But now I chuckle because I know the deep relief and joy that comes once the decision is made, freshman move-in day is over and community has blossomed all around me.

I recently told a struggling high school senior that I have never been more thankful for the rejection letters I received.

Somehow the idea of a “name,” a reputation of a school, held a lot of weight. The lower the acceptance rate, the more famous the alumni, and let’s face it, the higher the tuition, had some appeal, as if those are the things that make a school “good.”

As I finish up year two here at Whitworth, I am willing to argue that so much of what I love about this place and so much of what I have experienced here will never fit in statistics, rankings, reports, tours or promotional materials.

That is not to say Whitworth does not excel in those areas, but I know my “why Whitworth”, as I sense is common for many students, isn’t in the numbers.     Whitworth is the 2 a.m. conversations with hallmates and the lazy Friday afternoons spent lounging on the grass in the Loop. Whitworth is the times when my professors don’t just say hi, but actually stop and check in with me when I run into them across campus, and those moments in class when I am finally able to articulate what I longed to my whole life, but didn’t have the tools to do so until the said moment.

No school is perfect. There is still hurt and conflict and final exams are a real thing too.

But I think it’s important for us as students to remember the immense blessing we have in being able to attend an institution with quality administration, faculty, staff and fellow students.

Whitworth is a phenomenal example of not only selecting a school on reputation and numbers, but on overall quality of life. It is that value that makes Whitworth quintessentially Whitworth.

Contact Sena Hughes at shughes15@my.whitworth.edu

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