Once you hit 17 or 18, the questions start flooding in. “Where do you want to go to college?” “Which schools are you looking at?” “What kind of college do you want?” And while all the friends and family have good intentions with their questions, it can also be a bit tiresome. So to save time, I developed a bit of a catchphrase. Whenever anyone would ask me about schools, I’d say I was looking for a mid-size, Midwestern school with good journalism and English programs. It sounds a little rehearsed and oversimplified, but it didn’t make it any less true. It’s kind of like being a contestant on The Bachelor where the ladies will say they just want someone to laugh with or want a man who’s good with kids. You just have to find some repeatable phrase to latch onto while you search for your “soul mate”/university.
While each component of my university checklist was important, I really latched onto the mid-size qualifier. I toured some amazing Midwestern schools with good programs, but many of them had more students than a Beyoncé arena concert. And when I toured those big schools I realized that’s never how I wanted my college experience to be. I didn’t want to spend hours trekking across campus or not know any of the students in my class. I didn’t want to get lost on a campus the size of a small town. In short, I didn’t want a big school.
But I also experienced the other side of the spectrum, and turns out, a small school wasn’t for me either. I couldn’t even fathom attending a university with fewer students than my high school. And I knew I wanted the experience of learning from multiple professors and students, not just a few. Plus, if I did something embarrassing and fell down on the first day, how would I redeem myself if everybody on campus saw me?
With these and many other thoughts in mind, I finally settled on my epitome of mid-size: Drake University. There are about five or six thousand students total at Drake, including grad students. (I mean, don’t quote me on that. I’m very bad with numbers). But the point is, it’s just the right size. There’s enough variety of people and situations to keep things interesting and fun while also still being comfortable and homey. My professors know me, but everyone doesn’t know everyone around here. I get to walk a few minutes across campus, but not miles. I always see friends and classmates around campus, but there are also constantly new people to meet. In all, for me, Drake is just right.