Canton, NY: The last weekend in February I visited the open house at St. Lawrence University. The drive was a long seven and a half hours from south central Massachusetts, but the scenery and the mountains were worth it. At the university, my first impressions were of community and friendliness. All the students were smiling and made me feel welcome and a little less nervous. The first night, all the guests and prospective students were invited to the SLU hockey game against Princeton. The fans from the school, as well as many people from town, all cheered and yelled throughout the game, which was really fun, with SLU winning 6-4.
I stayed at a nearby hotel in Ogdenburg, and just to give you a better idea of the location of the college, I could see Canada over the frozen St. Lawrence seaway outside the hotel window. Most of the weekend the temperature was between 20 and 30 degrees below zero, and there were huge piles of snow everywhere. I was informed that eventually you become used to the numbing weather, and the snow was a nice touch to the campus.
The next day was very busy and organized, but not boring, rush-rush, or too confusing. I learned about the campus and the surrounding town and how everyone can interact with many volunteer projects, like Big Brother/Big Sister. More important, I learned about some special programs like career planning services offered at St. Lawrence, the Study Abroad Programs in countries like Kenya, and the unique and highly-praised First Year Program especially for freshmen. There were seminars where parents and prospective students were separated to discuss subjects from the different points of view. We met with professors and students while the parents met with professors and students’ parents.
At the end of the day, everyone took tours in small groups, again with parents separated from their high school students. My guides were very friendly and helpful, answering every question we could possibly fire at them. The campus is large, without the hike from class being too long, and there is a pleasant small-town atmosphere. The dorm rooms are the normal small size, but they can be arranged for more space. There are also a few extra spots to eat at if you miss a meal, an art gallery, a theater for current movies and play productions, a large library, and several computer facilities. Several quiet places to go and study alone were pointed out, one of which is one of the oldest buildings in Canton, nicknamed “the Morgue.”
The small town may make it seem as if there is not much to do, but there are many sports teams, both varsity and intramural, many Greek houses, plenty of opportunities for volunteering, and many student groups and organizations to join. If the group doesn’t exist, the opportunity is there to create it. St. Lawrence students stressed that managing time well is very important to accomplish all studying necessities, as well as to try to do all the extras.
St. Lawrence University is an impressive institution in a safe and beautiful area where the students come first, and a great education and independence are inevitable for the right student. n
Reviewed in 1993