27 April 2015

Lewis & Clark

Okay, sappy post time.

It being April 27, all of you prospective students planning on going to college this coming fall likely have less than a week to commit to a school. The number one piece of advice I give to prospective students is to follow your gut, which I did three years ago when I committed to Lewis & Clark.

A couple of nights ago I was talking with one of my friends on my program here in Chile (who also goes to LC) about how much we love and miss Lewis & Clark. I was reminded of all of the reasons I feel I made the right choice by choosing LC. Let me count the ways...

1. The size: Campus is relatively small and beautiful and is one of my favorite places on Earth. There are about 2,000 undergrad students, and about 500 in each class. This means that I at least recognize almost everyone that I'll be graduating with, as well as a lot of people in the classes above and below me. Even though most people have their "groups" that they hang out with, it's all pretty flexible and for the most part everyone is friends (or at least friendly) with everyone. While at the same time this means it can get hard to avoid people, I haven't really had anyone I've wanted to avoid because pretty much everyone who goes to LC is great. Likewise, a small student body means small classes which means more professor/student interaction, leading me to...

one of many pictures I have of our beautiful campus
2. The professors: Almost all of the professors at Lewis & Clark that I've had have been amazing. They're all friendly, extremely smart, and care about you as a student. They're available in office hours and it's common for students to go into office hours just to chat. I've had professors have students over to their houses for end of semester dinners, send me emails just to ask how I am, and remember details about my life that they could easily forget. Their students are more than just faces in their class, they're people.

3. The student body: I love Lewis & Clark as a collective student body. The students as a whole are creative, caring, compassionate, and eager to move forward. When there are problems, students band together and peacefully seek change. Beyond this, LC students are creative (from leading poetry slams to a capella concerts to sticking plastic flamingos in the trees of the ravine [because we have a ravine on campus]), academically motivated (we have some of the [objectively] best student run symposia in the country), and kind. I always feel so much support from my peers whenever I do anything, even from peers I don't know very well.
ukulele orchestra back in 2013- look at that creativity!
4. The activities: Besides the aforementioned poetry slams and a capella concerts, there's always a ton to do on campus. Plays, sports games, movie screenings, art making, game nights, music (often with live bands), speakers (like Bill Nye or Sonya Sotomayor)... there's always so much to do right on campus.
my ticket from when Bill Nye came this past fall
5. The location: I love the Pacific Northwest. Portland is an hour and a half from the ocean, an hour and a half from the mountains, right next to the Columbia River Gorge, and all around beautiful. Even though it's pretty rainy in the winter, it's manageable- more like a constant misting/light rain than constant downpour. Plus, it just makes the sunny days even better. Spring in Portland is my favorite time of the year- flowers bloom everywhere and it's warm and sunny and perfect. Because it's in such a great location, College Outdoors can take outside you to pretty much whatever climate you're longing for- mountains, ocean, beach, cliffs, desert, rainforest, waterfalls... Plus, campus is only twenty-five minutes from downtown Portland, meaning it's super easy to get off campus if you feel like you need to.
some of the wildflowers of the Columbia River Gorge in the spring, seen on a College Outdoors trip!
6. Portland itself: Portland is definitely exaggerated in Portlandia, but by less than you'd think. It's "weird" (and proudly so), but offers the best parts of any city: bookstores (especially Powell's), movie theaters, a ton of restaurants (and food carts), museums (Portland Art Museum is my favorite!), parks (including a state park right next to campus), concerts, and celebrity sightings (namely Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein).
one of the many places to go in Portland- a glow-in-the-dark minigolf place right downtown
7. The academics: Getting a liberal arts education means I take classes both within and outside of my majors, which is helping me to become a very well-rounded person. Knowing a little bit of a lot of things (in addition to the in-depth knowledge of specific things gained through my majors) means I have a better understanding of the full picture and better understand how every issue is complicated. It also means I have can better relate to other students, professors, and their interests. I've definitely become a better student and thinker through my time Lewis & Clark.
studying for said academics my sophomore year with my friend Daphne (namely for climate science)
8. The community: This is kind of a culmination of all of the above points, but deserves its own spot. Almost everyone lives on campus for two years, and a chunk decide to stay on their junior/senior years as well. This means that you get to know everyone very well, to the point where you kind of feel like a giant family (especially with the people in your dorm). I especially felt this with the dorm I lived in my first year, Akin. Living on campus makes it super easy to go to all of the on campus events, and it's essentially like a year long summer camp with academics and schoolwork. I love it. As much as I love living off campus, I do miss feeling as close to my classmates as I felt my first two years at LC.
part of my floor in Akin my first year, making up "A" signs and pretending we were a fraternity (in reality LC doesn't have greek life)
9. The flexibility and understanding: I had some pretty rough stuff happen to me in my personal life during this past fall semester, and my professors were all very understanding and compassionate. Their first concern was how I was doing, and they all were flexible with their attendance/homework policies for me. I ended up going home for a few weeks, and when I got back my professors all met with me personally to figure out a plan for getting caught up. Throughout the semester they all continued to check up on me and ask how I was doing. I really appreciated it and knew that it all worked out the way it did in large part due to the small size and great faculty of Lewis & Clark.

10. The opportunities: I've had countless leadership opportunities in my time at Lewis & Clark, some of which I've taken up (project leading for Spring Into Action and MLK Day of Service, co-chairing the Environmental Affairs Symposium, leading ukulele orchestra, working with College Outdoors) and others of which I haven't. I've been encouraged by professors to apply for various scholarships, some of which I've gotten, and some of which I wouldn't have applied for had I not been encouraged to. I've been put in contact with potential employers and given opportunities to volunteer around Portland and gain experience working in fields I'm interested in. Everyone at Lewis & Clark wants you to succeed, and there are entire departments (like the Career Development Center and Student Leadership & Service) that help you find and take advantage of opportunities around Portland and the country. I couldn't be more grateful for the opportunities I've had!
me as a project leader for Spring Into Action my first year at LC
I could go on and on, about the study abroad department and the library and the dorms and the dining hall and the beautiful campus, but I have to stop somewhere and 10 feels like a good number.

The important thing to note, as prospective students, is that these are things that I (and many other people, but this post is from my perspective) love about LC. The same thing that I love could be something that someone else hates. I like being able to know everyone in a small school, but someone else might like the anonymity that comes with a large student body. I like getting a bit of knowledge from a ton of different subjects, but someone else may want to choose one topic and stick with it and not bother with other departments. Everyone needs to figure out their preferences on their own, and go with their gut feeling about a school- if you visit it and hate it, then you probably shouldn't go there. Likewise, if you visit a school and get a wonderful, magical feeling in your gut, then that very well could be the place for you. That said, I would love for everyone reading this blog to come to LC and experience this place that I, and so many others, love so much. My friend's and my conversation ended with us realizing that one of the things we most love about Lewis & Clark is how enamored the entire student body is with the school. Everyone loves it for different reasons, but everyone loves it. Few people tolerate life at LC, because almost everyone is head over heels in love with it.

If you want to hear me ramble more about why I love LC, want last minute advice before committing, or have a funny joke to tell me, email me at rekidder@lclark.edu!