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Kenyon Magic

finalchildfinalchild Registered User Posts: 847 Member
edited June 2013 in Kenyon College
Over the last 4 years spanning 2 college searches I have visited well over 50 colleges/universities, most of them in the elite category. I also have read in detail about more than a 100 of the usual suspects. I attended a pretty special LAC in its own right, one "ranked" higher than Kenyon.

Kenyon is a special, magical place. There is time for what Kenyon doesn't offer (urban environment, perhaps some specialty areas) in grad school or in one's early career, but for my money Kenyon is tough to beat for an undergrad experience. I am sure there are a few out there that compare, but there are not many. I cannot recommend the school highly enough.
Post edited by finalchild on
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Replies to: Kenyon Magic

  • GottabemeGottabeme Registered User Posts: 7 New Member
    I'm considering Kenyon and comparing it to an in-state, highly reputable university. Of course, the cost is dramatically different. Can you expand on the "magic" please? Is your opinion based on academics as well as environment? Are you a student and if so, will you speak a bit about student life? Thank you and I hope I'm as convinced about my final decision as you are!
  • finalchildfinalchild Registered User Posts: 847 Member
    I'm a parent and I do have a bit of a nostalgic, movie-like view of what college should be all about, so while eventually earning a living is important, I am not so much of a pre-professional guy and ideally I think undergrad years are a time for growth, thinking, developing, etc. For me Kenyon is the perfect spot for that...gorgeous, plenty of space and woods, intimate setting for smart kids and outstanding, dedicated professors in an overall environment that the President of the college calls "unpretentious excellence." Some would worry about the isolation, but the truth is most kids never leave the campus and don't think about it either. Mt Vernon 3-4 miles has all of the normal civilization things but kids don't even go there much. Everything you want and need is right in the tiny "town" of Gambier inside of a campus that expansive but easily walkable from any point and in any direction. There is a good mix of kids, from artsy hipsters to English majors to pre-meds to athletes to internationals. The kids are smart but unpretentious. You don't worry about what you wear. There is plenty of room for activism and causes but they also are not in your face 24/7. Students seem to have a rich social life, built largely on really good friends. There is partying but also not a lot of pressure to socialize in any particular direction. Most kids can find their niche and the vast majority of kids seem very happy even though most of them are probably working harder academically than they imagined. The academics are serious but the environment is definitely more collaborative than competitive. But getting back to the magic, you simply cannot walk up and down Middle Path without feeling like you are in a dream of what college is supposed to be like. And the dream is not a mirage. My kid wasn't 100% convinced when he committed but he's been 100% from 2 weeks in to 2 years later.
  • GottabemeGottabeme Registered User Posts: 7 New Member
    Thank you. You're input will definitely weigh in when I FINALLY make my decision. Congrat's to your son on his super successful Kenyon experience!
  • itsallgood1itsallgood1 Registered User Posts: 55 Junior Member
    What a great description of the Kenyon "magic". Went there for a college visit with my son this past Fall and I just loved the place. I've got two more kids that will go through the college application process - maybe one of them will wind up at Kenyon. Strolling down Middle Path had me wishing I was the one applying to college (MUCH nicer than my alma mater in New Haven, CT!)...
  • hopmom74hopmom74 Registered User Posts: 24 New Member
    So glad I got back on this forum one last? time before my son makes his decision for school. Finalchild, it was so great to hear you thoughts on Kenyon. It was one of the first schools we visited last year and has lasted through the searching, application and decision process to be THE choice. There is definitely something that gets in your blood with this school. I totally agree with your opinion that there is time for the city and other things after undergrad. For me, I only wish it wasn't quite so far from MA, but I have no doubt that it is the place for my son and your words have reassured me even more. Thanks for taking the time to write.
  • elle232elle232 Registered User Posts: 109 Junior Member
    I will second and third that! I am a Kenyon parent. On the first visit, it did indeed feel magical, something just comes over you in that town. When we went back for drop off, I will never forget that night, it was warm and the trees were lit and the band played at the kenyon inn, and as a parent, I knew my son was in the best place. The convocation gave me chills, as a dad I just met while waiting leaned over and said, "our boys are in good hands I think." My daughter and I went just last week to visit my son, and despite no leaves on the trees and biting chill...the same thing, peaceful...serene...happy kids. It's got vibe. The dining hall is unreal, and it makes me happy as a parent to imagine my kid at a big round table of friends, snow coming down, discussing the ordinary and deep. My son, not a drinker or partier, found his people there and is very, very happy. I feel happy to picture him there.
  • elle232elle232 Registered User Posts: 109 Junior Member
    I wanted to add that my S and a friend have done a John Greene-ish vlog project over this last year on their youtube channel, but recently a potential Kenyon student asked for a video about Kenyon, and he did this video tour of the campus...I think showing some of what the magic is to him :-) 87. Tour de Kenyon - YouTube
  • ResearchmumResearchmum Registered User Posts: 109 Junior Member
    Thank you everyone for your posts, they just make me feel that K may well be the place for my son. Finalchild sums it up perfectly: there is a time and a place for everything in life. That is my ethos, and I really want my children to enjoy the undergrad experience. It is a time for finding yourself, having relationships, getting over broken hearts, making long lasting friendships whilst also getting a good education.

    Re another LAC, posters were saying they were crying themselves to sleep because of the stress they were being put under. That is such a shame. These same posters implied that there was an expectation of, and strive for perfection. At that age! I thought that was a recipe for mentally unbalanced adults in the future.

    K however, just seems 'perfect'. Thank you all. I just hope my son appreciates what we seem to.
  • MomzieMomzie Registered User Posts: 846 Member
    Wondering if anyone could compare and contrast Oberlin and Kenyon for us? Our liberal and musical son will be looking at both this weekend.
  • NROTCgradNROTCgrad Registered User Posts: 1,730 Senior Member
    @Momzie

    Oberlin vs. Kenyon

    Oberlin has a great music conservatory for you son. Kenyon's music programs might be fine, but not in the same league.

    Oberlin is more political; meaning that it has significant liberal activism on campus. If you or your son are even slightly conservative, Oberlin will be uncomfortable. Kenyon is basically liberal, but not hostile to conservatives, and activism is very mild.

    Oberlin is not too far from Cleveland and the kinds of things a big city can offer. Kenyon is basically rural, and a full hour away from Columbus. Kenyon's campus is serene and relaxing; like the perfect summer camp. Kenyon is great for introverts.

    Oberlin has relatively quirky students (which they wear as a badge of honor). Kenyon students are basically normal, well-adjusted, upper class kids.
  • GamerGal27GamerGal27 Registered User Posts: 531 Member
    My quirky daughter loves Oberlin. She even lives on Sci Fi Hall. Personally it fits her very well and I am proud of her activist tendencies. Kenyon was actually too conservative (middle of the road is probably a more apt description) and too rural. And the Obie Conservatory offers a ton of music opportunities. She started as a Creative writing major and is now a dual major in Classics/Sociology and Politics minor. She hopes to be an editor.

    This shoe fit her just right!
  • MomzieMomzie Registered User Posts: 846 Member
    Thanks. That is very helpful.
  • finalchildfinalchild Registered User Posts: 847 Member
    Disagree strongly with the suggestion that Kenyon is too conservative or middle of the road. Listen, Kenyon and Oberlin are both great schools, and when talking about differences between the two we're talking about shades of difference. Oberlin obviously has the superior music program, as it has a full-fledged conservatory that is arguably the best in the country. Beyond that, they have their strengths and weaknesses. What I prefer about Kenyon is that almost any kid can feel comfortable there, from liberals, to super liberals, and even conservatives (although conservatives to the right of moderate might have a tough time). It is an incredibly comfortable and still challenging place to be. My bias is that schools like Oberlin as so attached to their reputations for being "out there" that it can seem a little Karoake-ish in that regard.
  • isaelijohjacisaelijohjac Registered User Posts: 332 Member
    @finalchild could you please elaborate on your comment about conservatives to the right of moderate having a tough time. thanks.
  • MarieTMarieT Registered User Posts: 8 New Member
    My son is a junior at Kenyon. He is a registered republican (his parents are democrats) and campaigned actively for Romney. He thinks that there could not be a better school for him than Kenyon. Although he is in the minority, politically, he has found plenty of like-minded students and professors. It does not trouble him at all that there are many who do not share his views; rather, it promotes more interesting conversations.
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