I know there are definitely mixed feelings about Sewanee. I would love to hear from someone who had a great experience. I really want to like Sewanee but reading all the negative reviews is making me question if I should. I would be grateful to hear some positive things about the school. Thank you!!!
I graduated from Sewanee and had a fantastic experience. The academics are top-notch, with engaging professors who want to see you succeed and students who genuinely want to learn and expand their worldviews. The social scene is robust. Yes, there’s a heavy Greek presence, but the vibe is much different from SEC schools. There’s a place for everyone, and even if you don’t pledge, you can attend and will be welcomed at just about every party on campus except for the once-per-semester closed formal held by each frat. The campus is stunning. If you haven’t visited, you must do so before writing off the school due to a few malcontents on a message board. It’s rural, but it feels more isolated than it is. Chattanooga and Huntsville are each less than an hour away, and Nashville is less than an hour and a half. Sewanee is no farther from city life than Kenyon, Grinnell, Middlebury, Colgate, or dozens of other top-rated LACs. Several small towns (Monteagle, Decherd, Winchester, Cowan, South Pittsburg, etc.) are 15-30 minutes from campus and can provide your fast food/chain restaurant/Walmart fix.
Most students on campus are in love with the place and continue to be long after graduation; few colleges engender the level of alumni devotion that Sewanee does. The freshman retention rate usually hovers between 88-90%, though it might have been slightly lower this year, just as it was at almost every other school, because of students taking a year off to wait out Covid. But, and this is key, almost no one who comes back for their second year leaves. The smattering of students who’ve posted negative reviews here are likely part of the first group for whom Sewanee simply wasn’t a good fit. But that group is the minority, and the members of the other, much larger group, the students who love Sewanee, don’t post on here because they’re too busy studying and enjoying their college experience.
It’s also worth noting that the most recent negative review dealt mostly with how the administration has handled Covid, including strict social policies, restrictions on leaving campus, and so forth. I agree that the policies, at least from what I’ve read, seem draconian, especially for a libertarian like me who from day one has advocated protecting the elderly and letting everyone else continue their lives as they see fit. But, once again, Sewanee’s approach is the same as every other rural LAC I’ve read about. All of them are capitalizing on their natural bubble by sealing it off as best they can. It shouldn’t be an issue beyond Fall 2021, if that, given the pace of vaccine development and herd immunity.
If your gut is telling you Sewanee is a good place for you, it probably is. My recommendation is to schedule a visit and try to talk to as many students as you can — on campus and in person, not through the anonymity of a message board. Good luck!
Thank you so much! I am glad to hear about a positive experience at Sewanee. It seems like a very special school. It also seems like they were able to offer a very normal fall semester even with COVID because of the bubble. I am going to tour in a couple of weeks and I am super excited!!
Thank you for asking. I too read the latest negative post and had an ‘uh oh’ moment. I think @TripMcNeely post is helpful as a reminder that nearly every college has stressed, unhappy students this year. I know many who have come home or never went because of the issues pointed out at schools from ivy’s, T20, big state schools and other LAC’s. I know many high school students who also feel the same. I will keep focused on the positives and hope things will smooth out as COVID becomes more manageable. I know the rules etc are not ideal but do think it’s awesome that they are having as robust an on campus experience as they can under the cirgumstances