As high school seniors, searching for colleges and finalizing your application list, many students find themselves considering Lehigh. The university boasted exciting academic opportunities and stellar extracurricular activities. Tours exhibit an excellent location and a beautiful, vast campus.
Lehigh also consistently scores highly in the nation’s “best colleges” rankings from educational media outlets like U.S. News.
Everything presented to a prospective student indicates the next four years at Lehigh will be the best four years.
Now, as current Lehigh students, can we still say those enticing promises held up?
Lehigh recently ranked 49 on the U.S. News 2022 Best National Universities list—out of nearly 400 universities. Lehigh was also ranked 29 in Best Value Colleges and 13 in Best Undergraduate Teaching.
These rankings are determined through several factors. Forty percent of the score is based on post-graduation outcomes, 20 percent on faculty resources and another 20 percent on “expert opinion”— which includes a peer assessment score.
The other 10 percent is divided between student excellence (high school class rank, SAT and ACT scores) and alumni donation.
With 80 percent of the score dictated by factors other than student opinion, these rankings are primarily an outsider’s perspective. If students were the ones deciding these rankings, it’s debatable whether Lehigh would be ranked nearly as high.
It has not been all sunshine and rainbows from the inside. From experience, so far this year, that highly esteemed value isn’t necessarily here.
With an annual tuition of over $70,000, the university imposes a steep financial barrier to entry that students are willing to surmount to attend Lehigh. Often, however, we’re left wondering where university resources are going— and if they’re even for the benefit of students.
While COVID-19 is a factor, many campus resources are not being used efficiently for students, while the university maintains their stance that we are back.
Almost a month into the semester, dining is takeout only. Taylor Gym is held to a strict capacity with hours severely restricted. The Health and Wellness Center is closed on weekends and appointments for both COVID-19 testing are limited. The counseling center remains 100 percent virtual, with no appointments in person to provide support to students.
Amid the pandemic, Lehigh has still put money into the planning of large, in-person events while campus resources struggle.
Students can’t enjoy a meal in Rathbone, but they can attend a Fetty Wap concert hosted on the front lawn, jam-packed with hundreds of students.
Students struggle to schedule a COVID-19 test at the Health and Wellness Center, but high school students considering Lehigh can experience a full, in-person tour.
Students can’t experience the full benefits of therapy and exercise — two things that are crucial to the mental wellbeing of students.
Lehigh is making little effort into further reopening and bettering the resources that are essential to us.
Tuition money isn’t going back to the student body, but instead to things that will present Lehigh as “the place to be” to outsiders and potential students.
Current students should relish their time here without the university’s shortcomings consistently presenting themselves.
Lehigh should be seen as a desirable institution to attend, there is no doubt our school has a plethora of unique academic programs and Lehigh alumni find success within their fields.
Lehigh fails to recognize that we don’t just study and attend class here—we live here.
We, as insiders, are not even scraping the surface of satisfaction on campus. Meanwhile, the university diverts its attention to outsiders looking for more money—money that will not be spent on current students.
The experience students are currently receiving doesn’t feel like the 29th in best value.
How could Lehigh pride itself on this ranking when the majority of students would disagree?
All of the focus is set on money and the outsider perspective, instead of the genuine happiness and well-being of students. Lehigh needs to focus on its current students first and provide for them.