Carleton College's student newspaper since 1877

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Here, it’s the little things

<st people don't know this about me, but I hadn't planned on going to a liberal arts college until halfway into my senior year of high school. I was going to go to Business school. I was going to be an ad-executive and fly around the country telling people to synergize and think proactively. I was going to get paid a lot of money to do this.

After almost four years at Carleton, I think I made the right choice. Not simply because I love our academic programs, but also because of the community we have.

I think about this every time I return from visiting a big state school, as I did from the University of Illinois this past weekend. Surprisingly, it’s the little things that I notice that make our school distinct from a larger university. For example, while I was there, I went to a grocery store to pick up a few things. I walked in and noticed something very odd: every single customer was under the age of 25. I did a double take. A crowded supermarket with no soccer moms, no elderly couples, no harried single fathers.

I realized why: this was a college town. Most of these students live off-campus. It’s weird to think about that. Carleton is such a residential community, living and studying on campus is hardly distinct. It used to freak me out that I couldn’t leave my dorm without running into three people on the way to class. Now, I’ve come to appreciate it.

Moreover, if I do venture out to Cub or Econo, I’ll probably recognize a few faces. At the University of Illinois, it’s likely you meet people and never see them again. That is virtually impossible at Carleton.

While at the U of I (I’m so hip right now), I got the impression there was less communication between strangers. I think back to freshman year when I was walking across the bald spot and talking to my friend at Tulane on the phone. I asked him,

“Sam, how many people are on the quad right now?”

“Uh, a few hundred probably.”

I responded, “Guess how many are on Carleton’s? Four. I know two of them.”
Because of Carleton’s size, just being a student here is enough to bring people together. But I think the ultimate example of why Carleton is special comes from my mom back in St. Louis a few weeks ago:

She’s running an errand and walking to her car in the parking lot. She sees a man waiting by her car, peering in the back window. My mom, understandably, is a little concerned.

“What the hell are you doing?”

The man replies, “Oh, I’m sorry. I went to Carleton and saw the bumper sticker; I just wanted to see who was driving.”

My mom calms down; she gets it.

Now, if this happened over an Arizona State bumper sticker, my mom probably would have gone for her pepper spray. Instead, she trusted that the guy was genuine and didn’t go for her purse.

If that doesn’t show how tight-knit Carleton is, I don’t know what does.

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