My college search was one of the most thorough things I have ever done in my life—I worked with a professional counselor, visited about 14 schools, read plenty of books that detailed the “500 best colleges in the U.S.,” and bought more college t-shirts that would ever be deemed necessary for the normal human existence. By the end of the process, I thought I had it all worked out. I was committed to a big school in the South with a great scholarship and was confident that it was going to give me exactly the kind of “college experience” I wanted. Everything was coming together perfectly, and I was dead set on my plans—until I visited Grove City.
One of my best friends was going to Grove, and multiple people told me it was a school I really needed to check out. And so, mostly unwilling and uninterested, (at that point not even having finished my application yet), I went to visit at the end of April. As soon as I got there, something about Grove City felt different. Our flight got in really late that night around 2 a.m., but the campus safety guard who showed us where we were staying was incredibly nice and helpful, and that was only the beginning of seeing what makes Grove City so special. I saw that students (and even prospective students!) were valued and treasured as individuals, not just for the tuition they pay or the numbers they add to the school. Professors knew my name when I sat in on their classes; I had a meeting with the volleyball coach (whose team I play on now); I got to talk with an upperclassman who was also from Colorado; and even though I had given the school no warning and hadn’t even finished my application, I felt so welcomed and wanted.
Every encounter I had around campus just breathed community. There was something different about this school, and as much as I wanted to brush it off and stick with my plans, I simply couldn’t. I kept telling myself, “This isn’t what you want, you’re set,” but that sense of community, of being known, was unshakeable. That was exactly what I had been looking for at all the schools I visited, and it was not something I was going to get at my big Southern school.
After that first day visiting Grove City, I told my mom I needed another day there. I couldn’t leave yet—Grove City was giving me serious doubts about my plans and what I thought I wanted from a college. We left campus the next day with me saying I was going to stick to my current plan, trying to convince myself that Grove City wasn’t for me. But, looking back, I think I knew I was going to return. Sometime in late June, after finally finishing my application, I decided to rescind my acceptance to the other school and commit to Grove City. It was crazy—all that planning and visiting, all those tours and scholarships, everything I’d done all year, and here I was going to a school that had never been on any of those lists, a school that I had only visited once! I had a lot of explaining to do to everyone who knew my plans before, but even then I had no idea what I was going to get from Grove City. It’s nothing like what I thought I was looking for in a college, but, as it turns out, it’s everything I really wanted.
Here, I can call my professors friends, and talking with them about both school and life is a normal part of my week. Classes are fascinating and I feel like I’m legitimately learning, not just memorizing for a test. This campus comes to life through authentic community and good conversation, and the number of nights I stay up in the student union discussing faith and life with my friends are more than I can count. We have a stunning campus that makes walking to class a beautiful experience, as well as many other splendid things that make Grove City great. But the thing that first struck me and continues to astound me about this school is the people who inhabit those buildings—the Admissions Office, Campus Safety, Athletic Department, faculty, and students themselves—you won’t find another community like the one we have here. Trust me, I looked just about everywhere, not knowing what it was I was searching for, and no one else had it.
This is all coming from someone who never had any intention of going somewhere like Grove City, and these are words I never thought I would say. It turns out that the real, deep, heart-stirring community of this school was exactly what I had wanted all along, even though it took me until the very last minute to realize it. That is not something that is easily found, but it’s what makes all the difference.
Student Author – Brooke Sorenson, ’22