I remember going on college tours as a junior and senior in high school. Because of my sport, I had received offers to play at schools in every athletic division from one coast of the United States to the other. At times it was exciting; other times it was overwhelming. I would arrive on campus for a tour, and as I walked with the other wide-eyed prospective students like me listening to the tour guide, I remember making mental lists of pros and cons of the college I was visiting.
Like any other prospective student, I waited for the usual “this is home” moment that every undergraduate uses to answer the “what brought you to this college?” question. But as one college visit after another passed, I left with more questions than answers. One of the most commonly occurring questions was: “ok, this tour has shown me great things about this college, and it seems pretty cool, but what is it really like living here for months on end?”. This question faded in and out of my focus over the months as my time to make a college decision was running out. Finally, I had my “this is home” moment. It wasn’t one of the schools I had visited in California or even in Tennessee, but instead it was a school in my home state of Michigan and so happened to be the last one I visited along my journey.
It was a fairly large DII university and before I knew it I had committed to play volleyball there and my first year of college education had begun. Now, if you’re like me, you absolutely love people and being around them. But, at times, you need personal space as well. The science community nowadays calls us “ambiverts.” Neither total extrovert nor introvert, we’re kind of like the omnivores on the carnivore-herbivore spectrum. We need to be able to settle into a comfy chair now and then and read a book of our choosing in a quiet space and simply allow our minds to slow down from its usual pace. At my large university, I could find that space anywhere I wanted. But as time went on I also noticed something that today makes me appreciate Northwestern College all the more since I transferred. You see, while at my university I had a certain anonymity amongst the majority of the student body, I also noticed that with the anonymity of a large university sometimes came empty pangs of loneliness. Sure, I always had my friends and roommates, but at a school of 10,000-plus people, it didn’t matter how social of a person I was, I would never be able to know even a third of the faces I passed by on the way to class each day.
The God-designed part of humans that craves authentic community was surfacing within me as I realized that I wasn’t living in a community of authenticity but rather in a community of complete strangers. Not everyone will feel the same way that I did. I have friends who thoroughly enjoy that anonymity! But if you’re reading this and you recognize that hunger for authentic community in yourself, Northwestern College is truly a great investment.
As I mentioned before, I thoroughly enjoy being around people most of the time. But in other moments I need to have my own thinking space or time to improve myself! If I’m honest, at Northwestern I find that I have the opposite problem than I did at my university. Whereas before I had too much privacy, at Northwestern I almost can’t get enough privacy when I want it! We all know it’s a small college in about every sense of the word. But the beautiful thing is that as much as we students joke about how often we use the word “community” to describe Northwestern College on campus, underneath we are all thankful for the reality of it that we experience every day.
I have found that even when I am looking for personal space, I am glad that I always feel loved by my friends who somehow manage to interrupt my much needed “me time.” For me, feeling a little too loved sounds much better than feeling alone and anonymous. So, to answer the question that I know all students ask as they consider colleges, being here month after month is a blast because of the sense of community I’ve described. You will know the faces you pass by every day, and what’s more: they will know you. You may not have everyone’s name down pat, but you will be recognized as a member of the Red Raider family. This isn’t some marketing tactic from the college that you can only half-trust. This is the real testimony of a Northwestern student who has seen both sides of the coin. Consider it a sneak peek into the daily life of a student on this campus!
If you’re looking for authentic Christian community with students and professors, I can guarantee that NWC is the place to be. For me and many others, Northwestern College is home.