Lebanon Valley College

Annville, PA: One day I was looking online for a small Christiancollege with a marching band and ran across Lebanon Valley College. Even though I’d neverheard of it, it caught my attention.

Lebanon Valley is a liberal arts institution affiliatedwith the United Methodist Church and has 1,560 undergrad students. It is located in the heart ofAmish country, and while Annville gives the impression of being in the middle of nowhere, it isonly ten minutes from Hershey, half an hour from Harrisburg, and about two hours from Philadelphiaand Baltimore. The campus is rated one of the safest in the nation, and Lebanon Valley has beennamed by U.S. News and World Report and “The Princeton Review” as among the bestcolleges in the region.

My mom and I decided to visit, and the admissions office scheduledus for a cold Saturday last December. Driving up there was an adventure in itself, and I quiterelished getting out of my overcrowded surroundings and riding on two-lane highways through thehills of southeastern Pennsylvania.

Annville turned out to be only two hours from home,even when we weren’t sure where we were going. The town was quaint, and the surroundingsbeautiful.

After a short time in the admissions waiting room enjoying muffins and hotchocolate, we were shown a power-point presentation about the school, followed by aquestion-and-answer session which I found quite informative. The scholarship program was especiallyinteresting to learn about because LVC awards scholarships based on class rank rather than SATscores. Students in the top 30 percent of their class receive scholarships that cover one-quarterto one-half of tuition. I was also delighted to find that the marching band is quite renowned. Infact, music is one of the college’s top programs.

Then came the campus tour given by asophomore who was informative and courteous. She even showed our small flock her dorm room -something I doubt would be done at a large university! The campus was a beautiful mix of old andnew buildings; it was a well-maintained and idyllic place with a trio of ducks strolling across thelawn in front of the dining hall. Apparently not much goes on in Annville, so most of thestudents’ activities are right on campus. The only drawback I found was the fact that a trainruns behind some of the residence halls. Our guide, however, said that most people quicklyget used to it.

After the tour, my mom and I had brunch in the dining hall. In terms ofcollege fare, the food was top notch. Additionally, the lunch ladies were patient and friendly -imagine that! In fact, food orders were announced by the students’ first names, an odditythat added to my impression of Valley being a big family in many ways.

About a week aftermy visit, I received a postcard from the student who had given us our tour. This is yet anothermorsel of personal attention that I doubt would come from your average big-name university, and itimpressed me.

All in all, my visit left me very satisfied. I was somewhat surprised to heara few foul-mouthed students, but apparently that’s a fact of life at any college. From what Iobserved, they are in the minority at LVC, and the dining hall conversations that I heard werepristine – a delightful reprieve from the coarse chatter that plagues my high-school cafeteria.

I conducted a little research on the academic programs that interest me, namely history,music and religion. Their history program is strong, and Lebanon Valley is one of a few colleges inthe country to offer a historical communications major, designed to prepare students for careers injournalism, communications and the media. The only real letdown was the religion department – myimpression is that it’s too theologically wishy-washy for my views, although I could bewrong. The clubs, especially the vibrant religious activities and service opportunities, interestme a lot. I was also glad to learn that fraternities and sororities do not have a negative,pressuring effect on the campus, and there are no frat residence houses to break up the familyatmosphere.

LVC is drug and smoke-free, but it is not a dry campus. However, in order foralcohol to be in a dorm room, both residents must be 21. On the subject of dorm rooms, the collegetries to match up compatible roommates, a definite plus from my perspective as I, a self-proclaimedprude, would certainly not want to share a room with a party animal!

From what I have seen,Lebanon Valley College is an all-around excellent school, and definitely a contender in my collegesearch.

You can find out more at: lvc.edu

Reviewed in 2005