How My Overnight Visit Helped Me Find My Home at SLU

Jaime Hodgdon
Class of: 

When I give tours of St. Lawrence, the most common question I get is, “Okay, so why did you choose to come here?” 

The answer I give is also by far the most common response I hear from my fellow Saints: “It just felt like home.” It is also the reason I decided to become an Admissions Ambassador.

Though it’s strange for me to admit it even to this day, for a long time St. Lawrence was actually not even on my radar when I was considering universities. I discovered it my senior year, when, during a meeting with my college counselor, Lisa, I realized I that I had focused myself so much on where I should go based on statistics and rankings of the schools, that I hadn’t paid attention to what I actually wanted out of my future university in terms of personality. I asked Lisa where she thought I would best fit in. She suggested St. Lawrence (thanks again, Lisa!).

So I visited.

There’s no doubt that as a high school student, a tour can give you a wonderful snapshot into the kind of place St. Lawrence is. My tour was wonderful and was where St. Lawrence really first stood out as some place special to me. But the overnight visit is a chance to really experience a university at a level beyond the rankings, beyond the statistics, and beyond what your tour guide can simply tell you. For me, my overnight visit was when I fell in love with SLU.

There was no one particular event on this visit that stands out – no one incident or person who really convinced me to come here. Rather, it was the consistency of the events. No matter who I met, no matter which one of the dorms our hosts brought us to so we could meet even more of their seemingly endless friends, everyone was genuinely kind. Everyone wanted to welcome us, to know where we were from, and tell us why they came to SLU. These people (and I still remember their names!) offered their time and genuine friendship as they got to know us. They were just regular students, not tour guides – they didn’t have to take the time to tell us why they loved being students here, and how much fun their first years here had been so far. But they did it anyway. By the end of the night, our hosts and their friends had taught us some of their favorite tips and tricks for Dana Dining Hall, had shown us practically every freshman dorm on campus, and had proved to me that St. Lawrence is one of the kindest, friendliest places you can imagine. I realized this is a place I would never be without friends and without the support and confidence to try new things. Though I had only spent a night, it felt like I had been fully welcomed into a new home.

My overnight visit not only helped me realize that this was where I belonged; I even made some friends, too! My host, Paige, had a best friend who was also hosting a student, Monica. The four of us were together all night and by the next day, I felt I had grown so close with all of them! The excitement that Monica and I felt on seeing each other here on the first day of our freshman year is still one of my happiest St. Lawrence memories.

What I wish I could tell my high school self is that yes, awesome rankings are important – and trust me, St. Lawrence has plenty of those to spare – but what is really important is the fit. Of all the schools I visited (all 15 of them), St. Lawrence was the most genuine, friendly and happy by far, which is something that you can’t always see from a tour. And that’s what makes a college experience – not how perfectly mowed the grass is, but how inclusive the community is. It’s about how many people take the time to say hello to you as you walk by, hold the door, and want to get to know you. And that’s what St. Lawrence is.

This sense of finding my new home is why I became an Admissions Ambassador and is also why I came to SLU in the first place. So when families ask me why I chose St. Lawrence, I tell them – and then I invite them to come experience it for themselves. Because if there’s one thing St. Lawrence students love, it’s showing people why we love St. Lawrence and showing them that it can be their home, too.