When people ask me why I picked St. Lawrence University, I look them dead in the eye, smile, and don’t miss a beat.
“I came for the chocolate milk and stayed for the people.”
This usually elicits some laughter and rolled eyes. Of course, I laugh along, too. The whole situation seems ludicrous. What kind of self-respecting student gambles such an important investment on some quality beverage? I’d like to say I found the Visit Day academic panel intellectually stimulating or that the campus tour had me in tears of joy (the deserved responses), but what actually sold me was a visit to campus seven years prior to making my decision.
To be honest, on the Visit Day I attended, I stuffed myself full of too much mac-n-cheese in Dana Dining Hall and slipped into a food coma during one of the panels. I awoke in a panic, grasping at everything around me for dear life. My foot whacked the chair in front of me and 50 prospective students turned in unison to find the cause of the commotion.
Then came the tour, where I missed my second chance to get a good look at campus by freaking out the entire time and simultaneously forgetting everything I saw.
I’m living… here?! Without my parents or sisters?
I have to leave home FOREVER?
“Oh, Dana! I love that place. Neat!”
This looks like where big kids would live and stuff.
I was clearly out of my element. For the first 16 years of my life, I had the odd ability to get homesick just by walking out my front door. So, I was two strikes deep and clearly failing any semblance of model student status. St. Lawrence was about to majorly take me out of my comfort zone, and let me tell you, now as a rising senior equipped with hindsight, I’ve never been more grateful for an institution.
My first year came and I was forced to mature in many ways. I finally conquered the pointless homesickness by living a grand total of 20 minutes away from home. I met people I consider lifelong friends in my First-Year Program. We bonded in our Boys Only Fort (the pillow castle we built under my friend’s bunked bed), played countless video games, and explored campus together.
I learned how to study carefully when I received my first test back and spotted a giant “76” next to my name (I flipped that test over quickly). College made me apply myself and reach a new level of dedication in my studies. Face-time with my professors sparked a wakeup call. My papers looked like something out of a horror movie with all the red slashes across the pages. I’ll never forget my First-Year Program advisor, Michael Farley, telling me to tone down my adjectives “a tad." He was sugarcoating.
And here I am, less than a year away from graduation, writing about that one chocolate milk I had during fifth grade basketball camp. I remember how it glistened in the summer heat and refreshed my homesick heart. Dramatic, I know, but I was 11 and that glass meant the world to me at the time. It was the first time I felt at home while away from home. It brought me to St. Lawrence University, a place full of individuals that have changed my life and pushed me to become a better person.
All because of one glass of cold chocolate milk.