Sewanee, The University Of The South
TENNESSEE COLLEGE TRIP STOP #2, February 2019
Sewanee, The University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee (50 miles from Chattanooga and 90 miles from Nashville) has 1,700 undergraduates, of which 80% are from out of state. 98.5% live in residence halls, and most of the weekend life is on Sewanee’s 13,000-acre campus where students explore all of the campus’ surrounding wilderness by running, mountain biking, rock climbing or caving.
The Fiske Guide notes “it can easily be mistaken for an Oxford or a Cambridge plunked down in the highlands of Tennessee”, and I definitely felt a unique level of respect and academic ambition on campus. While it is not as diverse as it is striving to be (15% self-identify as a minority), it is working on this with more Pell grants and scholarships. Traditions are important, including its honor code (students want their degree to have been earned not stolen) and the “order of the gown” where students can earn (and wear to exams and presentations) their academic gown beginning sophomore year. All students dress up a bit here gown or no gown (no one goes to class in their sweatpants, our tour guide told us).
They rave about their scratch kitchen with fresh local produce and a food literacy program where students are taught how to buy and appreciate food. They have a new neuroscience major, creative writing certificate, and offer a Young Writer's conference in the summer. All classes are discussion-based classes and popular majors are Economics, English, Psychology, International Relations, Creative Writing, and Environmental Studies. All seniors participate in comprehensive exams in their major (some are oral and some are written) where students have to complete and pass as a senior. 30% participate in varsity athletics.
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