The senior survey question flashed on the screen, and I felt my eyebrows furrow.
“If you had the chance to relive your college experience, would you choose to attend Lehigh again?”
My general consensus with opinion questions is to go with my first instinct, which was a resounding “no way.”
I stopped myself from answering too quickly and actually thought about it.
As soon as I got my acceptance to Lehigh, I knew Lehigh was “the one.” My family huddled around our kitchen table as I opened the welcome envelope and read the official acceptance letter. My family was incredibly proud of me, and, for the first time in a while, I was proud of myself.
This moment of joy gets lost when I think about Lehigh.
Instead, I think about how I cried in the Title IX Office asking for help in navigating my case of relationship violence. I think about how I cried alone in my room when no help was provided.
Having this happen so early into my college career affected every aspect of my life. I would take longer paths around campus to avoid student hot spots in case I ran into someone who made me uncomfortable. I lost my self-esteem and confidence when I was supposed to be succeeding.
This semester, I listened to faculty and students talk about similar problems that happened to them, and my disgust with this school grew.
I felt most defeated as I constantly watched the Path to Prominence emphasize a need for more structures, not services. The wellbeing of the people who truly make up Lehigh was lost.
Based on these aforementioned problems, of course I wouldn’t want to attend Lehigh again. I can’t count how many times transferring actually crossed my mind.
However, my adversity to Lehigh’s administration doesn’t encompass my college experience, and it would be wrong of me to not be fair in this analysis.
Underneath my frustration is an air of gratitude.
The Counseling Center worked with me as long as their resources could afford, and I found solace in having someone to speak to weekly.
I was lucky that the departments of my two majors, English and anthropology, valued fostering relationships between professors and students. When I was struggling with mental health, my professors always took time to step out of the academic bubble and help me find a solution.
I reignited a high school hobby of designing by applying to be a designer for The Brown and White. Nights in the newsroom brought me friendships that I’m not sure I would have formed otherwise.
How can I equate my worst experiences at Lehigh to some of the most fulfilling moments in my life?
Happiness and sadness can’t be placed on a scale where they cancel each other out. Every experience is allowed to be as appreciated or grieved as needed.
At the end of it all, it’s an impossible question to answer. I can’t say that I wouldn’t have had the same experiences at a different college, nor can I say that knowing all of these things would have affected my choice.
I created a transfer portal but never had the heart to fill it out. Maybe this was due to my blind optimism that everything would get better eventually or my stubbornness to stick a decision out to the end.
With this particular opinion question, I tried to sift through the facts for guidance. But the fact of the matter is, I can’t imagine a different college experience.
As graduation nears, I’ve been asked countless times how I feel about graduating, and I always end up circling back to that senior survey question.
Encapsulating four years into a concise answer on a survey is impractical. I will never say I fully enjoyed my time at Lehigh.
But to get where I am today, surrounded by people who support and love me and with a soon-to-be degree in areas I have loved studying, I would have to do it all again.
Nicole Walker is the design editor for The Brown and White. She can be reached at [email protected]