Perspective on Sewanee after finishing freshman year...

Hey guys I used to look at this site a lot when I was deciding between colleges, so I wanted to write a short summary of my thoughts on Sewanee to maybe help anyone in the future who is trying to decide. I just finished freshman year here, and while it definitely took me a minute to adjust to the environment here, I’m really glad I chose this school. I’ve noticed that Sewanee seems to get some negative attention on here with people asking about drugs, party culture, rural location, etc. Here’s the thing: yes, we’re in the middle of nowhere. But, if you visit the school even briefly, you can easily get a sense of whether or not it’s a good fit for you. I’ve found that as soon as I get tired of the remoteness, it’s about time for a holiday break anyway. As for partying and such, I think it’s been established that we have a fair amount of partying here, but that’s within the party scene (hopefully that makes sense). In other words, if you want to partake, it’s relatively easy here, but if you don’t, there will be people who feel likewise. Also, there is no pressure whatsoever to do anything you’re not comfortable with, our parties are all open to anyone, and while Greek life is a big presence, we have a pretty wide variety (local and national; also rush is very low-key). Otherwise, my expectations have been exceeded with the academic aspect here (we have the BEST professors) and I’m pleased with my decision to go here. If anyone ever has any questions, feel free to reach out! Also, just a side fyi–I also looked at a number of the comparable LACs including our rival and what seems to be our most compared-to school, Rhodes, so I’d be happy to offer a perspective on that too.

Yes, please provide your perspectives on Rhodes, Berry and any other like schools in the area.

Thank you so much for your post! While my daughter is only a sophomore in high school, she has really taken a liking to what she sees online about Sewanee and we will be visiting the campus in April of next year for a visit. We will also be visiting Belmont in Nashville and Mercer Univ. in Macon Georgia. She is curious about the dress code and the lack of A/C in the dorms, though. Any input?

@fedrocker I personally felt that the sense of community was significantly stronger at Sewanee than Rhodes, and now that I’m in my second year here, I know its because our rural location lends itself to a close-knit community. Our open Greek system is really helpful for that as well. It’s not uncommon for someone to be very active in the something like the choir but also involved in athletics and Greek life. I’ve also found that because of the location, most of the professors live on campus or extremely close and will invite students to their house for dinner rather often. Of course, this is not unheard of at other schools, but I think the frequency is less common. Rhodes, Berry, Birmingham Southern, etc., are wonderful schools. However, in the case of Rhodes, it’s a bit larger in student population. There are commuter students, and students can live off campus starting junior year. Their gen-ed curriculum has a lot more requirements than Sewanee’s does. While some people may found these aspects appealing, I felt like it took away from the typical liberal arts experience. I like that everyone lives on campus all four years here and that I’ve had freedom to construct my schedule and classes how I’d like. I’m not trying to speak poorly of any other school, I just got that sense that some of the larger LACs in cities take away from what makes the LAC experience so great.

@Discotish April is a wonderful time to visit! The dress code is an unofficial dress code; in other words, you’re not going to get in trouble if you don’t follow it and there’s not an “official” code. It’s more of a tradition upheld by students. When it’s warm out, girls usually wear casual dresses or jeans and a nice top and then leggings and sweaters as it gets colder. As for the A/C in dorms, there are only 6 out of the 19 dorms that don’t have it but it’s not that bad. The first three weeks are a bit hot, but then it starts to cool off. Also, most of the dorms without A/C are either really close to central campus or have nice suite-style bathrooms, so there are still some benefits.

My daughter is interested in Sewanee for its environmental programs. She feels like she wants a school with more students but she’s not set in stone on that. Her high school is very small less, than 500 students, and I think she’s ready to spread her wings and is worried that a small school will not allow her to do so. We visited the school of 1000 in central Illinois and to be honest it was a total snoozer. We expected to see kids out and about enjoying each other‘s company because it was a beautiful day, but campus seemed pretty dead. On a typical weekend what would you expect to see going on during the day on a Saturday afternoon or evening at Sewanee? She’s a really good kid and she is not a partier. Although some of her friends have started experimenting she has chosen not to. She is however very social and likes to do things. She loves the outdoors, art, and music. Although our family identifies as Christian we are not religious and don’t attend a church. I would say she considers herself a liberal. Do you think she could find a decent crew of kids at Sewanee who are like minded?

Also she is sitting here saying she is worried about the dress “code”. She really likes casual clothes. She does put together some nicer outfits on occasion but doesn’t want to feel like the odd man out if everybody is dressed up. She specifically wants to know if any girls wear shorts or if that is a no-no.

Hi! I thought I’d also give my input since I am an environmental major at sewanee. I cannot speak more highly of the program for environmental science at Sewanee. The domain provides such unique opportunities for learning in that field and there are so many opportunities to get hands on experience with what you’re learning about. As to the campus environment, you will definitely see students outside on a nice day. People will sit and do homework on the quad or pull out their hammocks and tie them up to a tree to relax. It really is an outdoorsy kind of school. Often times on the weekends you can find kids going on hikes around the perimeter trails or if its really nice weather heading to one of the many lakes on campus to swim. People also take day trips to the local cities such as Chattanooga and Nashville to go shopping or do some other activity.
There really is no pressure to drink/party at Sewanee. There are plenty of people who chose to avoid the party scene and are best friends with the people who really enjoy that part of college. In fact, one of my best friends at the school does not partake and I can’t think of a single person who thinks less of her for it. There are also plenty of cool programs and activities the school and/or school organizations put on to fill up your time and engage in. I can also say there is no religious pressure put on the students by the school at all. The school holds church services every Sunday in the chapel but just like any church you go if you want to.
Lastly, to address the dress code- it really is an elective thing. Students encourage it out of respect to professors and the tradition but I can say with some confidence that if you were having one of those days and wore a pair of sweats to class, no one would say anything. For the most part, people wear what you would probably wear to school in high school: jeans and a sweater or jeans and a nice blouse. It really is an up to you kind of dress code. I was scared of it at first too, having worn sweatpants almost my entire senior year of high school, but it really is a laid back thing that shouldn’t discourage anyone from coming to Sewanee.
I hope this helps and you decide to choose the mountain!

Thanks, this is helpful. We are coming for a visit at the end of January and can’t wait to learn more about it!

@1970turkey I agree with everything collegestudent1 said! I’m not as familiar with the environmental programs here but as far as activities outside of class and on the weekends, there is plenty to do. Organizations are always putting on events that don’t include partying, and even if you do go out to a Greek party, there is no pressure to drink. The Sewanee Outing Program leads multiple trips and outings each week, including everything from simple hikes to advanced rock climbing (and this is free; you just sign-up!). As far as religion and politics, it’s a pretty mixed bag around here, so your daughter should have no problem finding a group of like-minded people.

I’m curious if anyone has a perspective on being a student-athlete at Sewanee. My D is considering playing a sport there and was interested to know what the experience would be like (i.e. demands on time, ability to do other activities, reputation of athletes on campus). Thanks!

We have a friend who is on a major sports team there. She has been able to be a campus tour guide and I think studied abroad last summer. Another friend who attends there told us that she is well liked and respected on campus. She loves the school.

There are a lot of student athletes here! Most girls involved in athletics are also involved in academic organizations, Greek life, work study, and other activities with no problem with time management or conflicting schedules. As far as reputation, I wouldn’t say that there’s a specific reputation of student athletes. Since there are so many of them and we’re such a small school, being on a sports team is really just like being involved in another campus activity.

Headed to Sewanee this weekend for a recruiting visit for my daughter. She was at Rhodes two weekends ago, so will be interested to compare and contrast the schools.

As a follow up, she had a good visit/tour and liked the school/academics. Unfortunately, the players on the sports team she was there to visit were not very welcoming. Definitely left a bad taste.

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Hate that for your daughter… My son has been accepted and pondering an official visit - it is a big divergence from his other top choice (larger public) - he’s informally visited and loved the campus. It would be nice to get a more in depth presentation however.

@HesNot I think if athletics weren’t a consideration, she would have the school high on her list. Beautiful campus, class size is right for her and she liked a lot of the other kids she met. It is pretty remote, though.

Do Not Choose Sewanee! Terrible experience.
Look at the Acceptance Rate and the Yield Rate. Very Telling.
Middle of nowhere and Cell Phones with Verizon Service have terrible coverage.
Most of the dorms are in terrible condition and they bill the students for vandalism even if they were not there on the weekend it occured. Absolutley disgusted with this place!

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Sewanee is a “fit” school. It either works for you or it doesn’t. The ones it doesn’t work for — 10 to 12 percent each year, typical of similarly ranked LACs — transfer after freshman year, and the rest stay and most become fiercely loyal to the school.

You’re part of the first group. There’s nothing wrong with that. I hope your next college gives you what you’re looking for. But the overwhelming majority, including me, is in the second group, so Sewanee must be doing something right. It’s hard to find a college that engenders such love and devotion from students and alums. My friends who went to UTK, UGA, Alabama and so forth are highly loyal to their schools’ football teams. Sewanee alums have a deep connection to the university itself.

Regarding your statements about the location, cell service and dorms, yes, Sewanee is rural, and you shouldn’t expect the cell reception you get on I-75 in downtown Atlanta. But it’s not as far removed from civilization as it feels when you’re on campus. Chattanooga is 45 minutes away, Nashville a little over an hour. W&L, Kenyon and many of the popular New England LACs are similar distances from large cities. And unlike some of those schools, Sewanee lets you bring a car starting your freshman year, so it’s easy to get off campus and get your city life fix if you need to.

The dorms, like at most schools, run the gamut. McCrady and Gorgas aren’t anything to brag about, but the newer dorms built this century, along with places like Quintard and Tuckaway, are quite nice. If you keep your grades up you should be able to snag a single in a nice dorm by junior year. And the practice of billing students dorm-wide for damages is common. Don’t be surprised if you live on campus at your next school and see similar charges appear on your student account.