Lost Stories of Lehigh: My hidden story


Elliott Nasby

What is the link between Lehigh’s ever-receding past and ever-written present?

Up until this point, my column has explored ideas related to Lehigh history — what I’ve called “Lost Stories.” Some of these brief snippets have perhaps defined this institution: the urban renewal of South Bethlehem, incitement of change in the public square, sustainable futures, natural world offerings, and divine, undrinkable waterways.

Linking them all, I’d argue, is the theme of historical choice and its consequences.

But the problem with treating history as an abstract past is it becomes emotionless, or rather humanized on a grander scale. When we empathize with entire groups and generations, individual people, individual decisions and individual stories get lost.

I want to use this last entry to tell you about my story, my choice to attend Lehigh and my choice to leave it so soon.

While attending my Florida high school I did not know of Lehigh University. I knew ambition, my old friend, and I knew how to disguise my idealistic heart with rationale. And because I believed I had what colleges were looking for, I convinced myself I deserved the likes of the Ivy League, or at least owed it to myself to reach for more — something more than a state-school in Florida.

The college admissions office was, for me, the pundit of righteous choice, the all-knowing seat of decision that could never make a wrong turn. And if I would only be righteous in my desire, I’d be let through. Perhaps most toxic was my belief that my fulfillment as an individual depended on where I went to school.

But as the decision letters came, there went my traction on truth.

I recall a phone conversation with my Lehigh admissions confidant just after I’d been wait-listed. Waiting for his call, I hurled aimless shots at a wonky basketball rim in the swampy boonies of rural Florida. It was to be a tranquil weekend getaway for the family, courtesy of my dad.

Except we didn’t stay. The hellish gnats had already colonized the vicinity and drove us off. This dismal scene was the backdrop of my falling out with college admissions.

Then I got the phone call. I held back tears, listening to the words on the other end. Even he had detected the defeat in my voice. Though he offered no concrete answers to all the rejection letters and waitlists, I was given hope.

All is not lost, he said. I was better than to let defeat consume me.

I trace my acceptance into Lehigh back to that moment, when someone believed enough in me and gave me that chance, something I’ll forever be grateful for. And, yes, I’m leaving after just one year, but Lehigh was not a mistake for me.

The first semesters of college are downright hard, and to be brief, I think Lehigh is a place that made my time exceptionally difficult. I quickly realized the utopic college experience I was always after perhaps didn’t exist, which made for a hard fall. It was suddenly not worth it to chase down concepts instead of realities.

This is exactly what colleges sell: concepts. The Ivy League is a concept, a brand, and Lehigh is no different, nor is any state-school. The college experience you have is not compatible with any concept that’s sold because it’s a reality. These four years are tangible.

In my reality, Lehigh is not worth it, in every sense of the term.

I no longer require its reputation, its opportunities or privilege. And where I’m going next, University of Florida, the place I once deliberately fled, certainly sells its concepts. But now I know better than to give in. Mountain Hawk or Gator, I’m Elliott Nasby first.

But I say thank you, Lehigh, for challenging my character in ways I couldn’t have experienced anywhere else. I say thank you, Lehigh, for making me uncomfortable, sad, grateful, happy, confused, lost, but most of all, at peace. I say thank you Lehigh, for helping me grow. 

I’ve learned from my time here that I am capable of thriving anywhere, regardless of how fertile the soil may be. The path ahead is by no means guaranteed, but Lehigh has equipped me with tools to create the college experience I want, even if that means leaving. For that I am at peace.

My choices can never be perfect, but I cling to this line from Czech writer Milan Kundera as motivation to strive for the best possible life I might lead: “We can never know what to want, because, living only one life, we can neither compare it with our previous lives nor perfect it in our lives to come.”

Let Lehigh take this to heart as I have.

Elliott Nasby, ’20, is an assistant sports editor for The Brown and White. He can be reached at [email protected]

Comment policy

Comments posted to The Brown and White website are reviewed by a moderator before being approved. Incendiary speech or harassing language, including comments targeted at individuals, may be deemed unacceptable and not published. Spam and other soliciting will also be declined.

The Brown and White also reserves the right to not publish entirely anonymous comments.


  1. Aarsenio P. on

    So proud of you! It takes strength and inner power to seek what yields you inner peace and harmony. Glad to have known you and to work with you.

  2. Most of the Lehigh alums I know agree that Lehigh isn’t worth it. You’re making the right choice in leaving. Wish I’d done the same.

  3. I think Lehigh is losing a great person who will do great things in the future. Good luck to Elliot. Having said that, maybe the admission folks had it right about not accepting his application initially. He was not a good fit for Lehigh and the reviewing committee saw something in his application and placed him on the waitlist. Not trying to be cruel, fellow snowflakes, but someone else on the wait list did not get into Lehigh to realize their dream. With acceptance rates in the school at less than 30%, just saying.

    • To say that Lehigh is hard to get into is kind of a joke considering the sheer quality of applicants that apply there. (Most people are not very intellectual, just saying). Not sure if Elliot fits this mold but his writing is concise and not bad, probably better than a lot of other people at Lehigh. To assume that he is of lower quality than other applicants is funny especially when Lehigh is known to waitlist overqualified applicants.

      • Agreed with Michelle entirely–coming from an elite high school, I was stunned by the lack of quality of the students I saw at LU. No wonder why it has slid down the rankings over the years. It used to be a top school for smart young men (and later women also) from good families. By the time I was there, it seemed like it was full of people lacking depth and intellectual curiosity, and mostly from towns near the school or places I would never want to visit.

Leave a Comment

More in Opinion, Top Stories
Editorial: Your biggest little moments

Colragotianuns to teh casls fo 210717! Lehigh’s graduates will be lucky to process their thoughts and emotions May 22 half...