One of the things I miss most about my college days is dorm life. Don’t get me wrong, I love having a place to call my own in the southern Georgia cotton fields surrounded by pecan orchards. But I don’t think I will ever experience community like I did those four years I spent residing at 100 Campus Drive in Grove City, PA.
One of the unique things about Grove City College is that students are required to live on campus all four years, unless you are a local resident commuting from home. When you’re accepted, you are guaranteed a bed in one of our 10 residence halls, including the Colonial Hall Apartments (for upperclassmen), for your entire four-year college career. With 96% of Grove City’s students living on campus, there is a vibrancy to life on campus that simply cannot be put into words. The purpose behind creating a residential campus stems from Grove City’s belief that learning does not exist apart from the two C’s of Christ and Community. Even if you’re commuting, though, you’ll still benefit from our tight-knit campus and abundance of opportunities to get plugged in.
Before my years as an admissions counselor for Grove City College, I spent close to 10 years in full-time youth ministry. I often joke with people that I grew more in my faith during my four years at Grove City College than I did as a youth minister. At Grove City College, transformation starts freshman year on a freshman hall, each of which has one to two upperclassman Resident Assistants (RAs) whose responsibility is to support the academic, social, and spiritual development of the students on their halls. From a personal stand point, I cannot tell you how important of a role my RAs played in displaying Christ and helping to foster community on my hall.
This Christ-first mentality continues throughout your time on campus at Grove City College. I have countless memories of the times that my friends were there to pray with me during some of life’s toughest moments. When my grandmother passed away during my sophomore year, it was my roommate who heard the voicemail and was there to comfort me. When my family was going through a tough time and I went next door to ask for prayer, my fraternity brother – who was in the middle of competing for a swim conference championship and bogged down with engineering homework – suggested we stop everything and pray right then. A couple friends of mine even offered to take time out of their weekends and drive to Pittsburgh to meet with my brother and his fiancée to help with marriage counseling, though they were complete strangers. “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17 NIV). This verse is a reality for the Grove City College community, where students are constantly shaping and encouraging each other into godlier men and women.
I truly believe this community is so vibrant in large part due to our residence life in the context of a very engaged campus community that extends from the classroom, cafeterias, and career services into the sports fields, performance stages, and mission field. I miss the conversations shared in Hicks Dining Hall, as well as the leadership and ministry opportunities I had through various clubs – such as my experience leading an Inner City Outreach (ICO) Trip to Malawi. The lessons I learned on and off campus are still impacting me today. The Grove City College campus community welcomed me as an awkward 18-year-old, a little on the shy side, and turned me loose into the world as an outgoing, confident, 22-year-old with a firm faith foundation, well prepared academically and socially to successfully tackle what lay ahead.
One of the strongest memories I have from my four years at Grove City College will help to paint a picture of what this all looks like. My freshman year started in August of 2001. Less than a month later, our country would never be the same again after the terrorist attacks on September 11. Though I lived a little more than an hour away, I remember feeling shocked and scared, wanting to go home. As the day unfolded, students huddled together in front of lobby televisions. Strangers prayed together. Since Grove City College is in Western Pennsylvania and many news outlets did not have the exact location of the plane that went down in Somerset County, many parents of out-of-state students frantically called their sons and daughters to make sure they were okay. I remember passing a fellow classmate as she walked along the Quad, cell-phone in hand, tears rolling down her face. Could I pick her out of a crowd today? No. But on that day we embraced after she finally got in touch with her parents confirming she was indeed okay.
That’s the beauty of the culture created at Grove City College. Students and faculty come together. Students meet for impromptu study sessions, to plan events, and to help each other through trying times, all within the context of a Christian community founded on the belief that all knowledge comes from God. When you go to Grove City College, you’ll leave with a top-ranked education. Moreover, you’ll experience transformation that will carry with you for the rest of your life.
Paul Scheeser is a 2005 graduate of Grove City College who served as our Southeast Regional Admissions Counselor from 2015 to 2017. Paul now works as a residential academic advisor and coach in his home state of Georgia, residing with his wife, Hayley, and son, Warren.