Puget Sound on short list of “life-changing” colleges

In the summer of 2012, Puget Sound was named part of the 2013-2014 edition of Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College, originally published in 1996 by former New York Times education editor Loren Pope.

The book is a region-based guide for high school students looking for “more in their college experience than football and frat parties,” providing admissions standards, educational philosophies, curriculum information and more.

The news was met with little fanfare (largely due to most of the campus being away for summer vacation), but it is an accolade worth restating.

Pope asserts that many liberal arts schools offer just as much to prospective students as Ivy League institutions; Puget Sound is listed among colleges such as Reed and St. Mary’s, all similar in that they may lack the name-recognition of the almighty Ivies, but make up for it in the quality of education and undergraduate experience.

Described as having a “smart, fascinating curriculum” and professors who truly care about the students (six of our professors have been named Professor of the Year by the State of Washington, an unmatched record), the segment on Puget Sound provides a fairly accurate and complimentary snapshot of the school.

And yes, the obligatory quips about the rain are included: Puget Sound is referred to as a “bright spot on the map of American higher education,” despite the wet weather.

The section concludes with the impression that Puget Sound gives its students “plenty of pats on the back and the occasional swift kick in the pants,” which I suppose isn’t entirely false.

In response, President Thomas is quoted as saying, “We are delighted that Puget Sound is being recognized for the distinctive educational and personal growth our students experience here.”

Beyond the prestige of being featured in a highly regarded college guidebook, as students it couldn’t hurt to take a moment every once in a while to appreciate Puget Sound.

Maybe you have a problem with the administration, with the food at the S.U.B. or the dismal record of our football team, but when you are an alumnus, I doubt that’s what you’ll remember. You’ll remember exactly what you made of your own undergraduate career, and the relationships you formed in the process.

During a recent scan of my Facebook newsfeed, the “Class of 2017” page caught my eye. Needless to say, I felt awfully old. I remembered joining the “Class of 2013” page four years ago, being rather new to Facebook and terrified at the prospect of cyber-meeting my fellow Loggers.

I stuck to browsing the page occasionally, wary of my future classmates who posted on the wall with wild abandon, already scheduling coffee dates and admitting their greatest fears about starting college. The Class of 2017’s posts aren’t so different from ours, aside from the addition of numerous requests to follow one another on Instagram. I’ll admit, I’m a little jealous of the incoming freshmen.

You would be hard-pressed to find a senior who wasn’t just a little jealous of Puget Sound’s newest students who, in a few short months, will be listening to Ron Thom’s orientation speech and counting how many times he says the word “home.” But after four years on campus, we now know that he said it for a reason. Puget Sound is home.

“When I think about Puget Sound, I don’t see the classrooms I’ve sat in for the past four years or the events that I’ve had the privilege to be a part of. I see faces. So many people here have impacted who I’ve become,” Elisabeth Young said. “The professors willing to work with me outside of class, the financial aid counselors who have eased my worries, the people in every office who were so concerned with my success. I will be leaving with not only a degree, but also endless gratitude.”

“In a place like Puget Sound, I’m surrounded by students with skill sets often more extensive than my own. I’ve come to realize how much my peers have added to my life, even when my first impressions initially suggested otherwise,” Max Cohen said.

Puget Sound has been an integral part of Chris Putnam’s life since elementary school. His father worked on campus, and he often accompanied him to work. Some of his earliest memories are of eating doughnuts in the S.U.B. and looking up at the mural of Paul Bunyan, thinking he must be the tallest man on earth.

When it came time to apply to college, there was really no question in his mind as to where he would be spending the next four years. “Graduating from this University is going to be one of the most bittersweet moments of my life. I will always remember the way the campus community has positively changed me, though, and will instill genuine care for my peers, along with an avarice for the acquisition of knowledge, wherever life after college takes me,” Putnam said.

Perhaps Mariah Snowden says it best. “I just want to do college all over. But I wouldn’t change a thing.”