Imagine…walking across a parking lot being warmed by the fall afternoon sun.  A gentle breeze ruffles your hair, birds are chirping in the trees, and from a distance, you hear the distinctive wail of a bagpipe.  You have two options:  stop in your tracks and wonder what a bagpiper is doing in the middle of Ohio, or excitedly run toward said bagpiper to record some footage because no one will believe you saw a bagpiper in rural Ohio!  I chose to run and enjoyed the unofficial welcome by The College of Wooster.

Visiting colleges is not only important for students in order to get a sense of what type of campus community will make them happy and successful, but visits are also important for high school college counselors to acquire an understanding about a college that goes beyond statistics and glossy marketing materials.  My visits have a different focus than those of prospective students and families who are searching for a match — I am researching a college for its ability to “naturally fit” Academy students.

When I arrive on a campus, I come with internal information about our students both academically and socially, and as I poke and prod around a campus, I ask myself several questions:  “Which of my students can I see here?”  “Are they providing the opportunities I expect for my students?” and “What are the downsides to being at this college for my students?”
Armed with these questions, I began the all-important task of putting The College of Wooster under a microscope.

I wasn’t sure what I would find in the small college town of Wooster, Ohio, but I followed the advice I give Academy students — keep an open mind.  In the end, I discovered a college that doesn’t just give lip service to mentored undergraduate research, but produces results to back up its philosophy across all majors.  Through the well-designed faculty mentorship program that begins freshman year to the senior-year Independent Study (I.S.) research project, each step of the process helps students not only gain knowledge and critical thinking skills, but a body of work to prove it… and a Tootsie Roll to celebrate!

The college has the quintessential college campus layout and appearance for which our students are searching, green space in which to study, and modern architecture dispersed among traditional buildings.  It has quirky traditions specific to the college (cricket match homecoming, anyone?) and homey touches (Mom’s is a dining option) all within a college town that boasts unique restaurants and small businesses.

After sharing a delicious meal with my admission and counseling colleagues in downtown Wooster, I left with a real sense of the Academy student who would thrive at this recognized “Colleges That Change Lives” campus.  As I drove the 60 miles north to Cleveland for my next visit, I continued to contemplate the Academy students’ whose Naviance lists would receive my addition of The College of Wooster, and who might be willing to call Ohio home.

Is it on your list?

Learn more about Harrisburg Academy on our school website.