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Top 5 Things that Surprised Me About Emory

Emory College sophomore shares about some of the best surprises she has found on campus

Students jump for joy

There are so many things that have surprised me about Emory in the best sense—the excitement of Orientation Week, the inherent passion of students, and the sink in my room (arguably one of the best surprises), to name a few. Below, I’ve compiled a list of what I consider to be some of the best aspects of Emory that I’ve noticed after a year here. As you engage and connect with Emory further, you may find that some of what you learn surprises you as well!

1. I was surprised by the fact that when I stepped foot on Emory’s campus, my admission counselor actually knew me.
I think it’s easy to think of admission counselors as simply the people who stamp ‘admit’ or ‘deny’ on your application. When I visited Emory as an accepted student in the spring of my senior year, I came to find that that mentality couldn’t be more wrong. The second I walked up to the sign-in table and gave my name, the counselor who had read my application walked up to me, asking about how my cross-country season went, and wanted to know if I enjoyed the final production of the play I had just finished. She cited my hometown, essay, and other elements of my application in our conversation, and all I had told her was my name. I was shocked—and so pleased—to find that this was somebody who had not simply skimmed my application but who had poured over it, getting to know me as a person and not as a test score, a GPA, or simply a statistic. It was then that I understood what a “holistic” admissions process truly means. We’re still in contact today!

2. I was surprised by the sense of community I found here.
I was looking for a school with a tight-knit community, one that supported student success and emphasized a strong sense of diversity in every form of the word. I was not disappointed. I quickly came to learn that the Emory network—comprised of peers, professors, mentors, and classmates—is one that both encourages and challenges me. Each Emory student is so passionate and intellectually curious independently, and when you look at the student body as a whole, you find that we as the faces of Emory have a sense of unity present in our school spirit, our support for each other, and in our daily interactions. I couldn’t have felt more at home here, and I attribute that fully to Emory’s strong and empowering community.

3. I was surprised by the sheer number of classes available to me.
One thing that I love about Emory is that students can, in one day, attend a class on Brain Imaging, one on the Sociology of Happiness, another on the History of the Holocaust, and finish the day in an Advanced Ballet intensive. The course atlas is so extensive that a student would have difficulty not finding something that they are interested in. I was surprised by how much I’ve come to value Emory’s general education requirements and emphasis on a liberal arts education, as they’ve allowed me to take classes that I never would have considered, and even to pursue an area of study I formerly didn’t know existed.

I entered Emory intending to study business, and that interest area still stands, but through the liberal arts at Emory, I’ve looked into so many other fields of study that could complement my degree in business. I’m currently enrolled in a Development Studies class, which focuses on the economic, social, and political development of third-world countries. It’s made me strongly consider a minor in the field—and I never would have known that were in not for the choice and flexibility I had in choosing my course load.

4. I was surprised by the availability and support of my professors.
I never thought that a world-renowned professor doing high-level research in fields beyond my comprehension would ever want to support my learning in an introductory level class. Again, I couldn’t have been more wrong. Each of my professors—without exception—have encouraged students to visit them in office hours, to come in for extra help, and some have even invited us to their homes for dinner or to other events that they feel will better students both personally and academically. I never expected my professors to be so accessible, and to take such a strong interest in my personal improvement, but it’s something that has come to characterize Emory through personalized, supported learning and growth.

5. I was surprised by how much more exciting college is than high school.
I loved high school. I wondered how I would ever be as happy in college as I had been in high school, where I had my friends, my family, and everything I had known from home. When I came to Emory, I was surprised, to say the least, by how quickly I felt “at home.” The past year at Emory has been the most fulfilling and exciting time of my life. People talk about increased freedom, interesting classes, and meeting new people when they think about reasons why they’re excited about college, and I would echo that. I’ve personally met more passionate and interesting people here than I ever have before, have forged relationships with people in the Emory community of peers, faculty, and staff that are unparalleled to those I had in high school, and have truly come into my own academically, socially, and everywhere in between. I credit that experience and my engagement fully to all that Emory has to offer.

Grace Cleland
Grace Cleland

Oakton, VA

*Emory University uses these abbreviations to designate graduation year. For example, Grace anticipates graduating from the Goizueta Business School in 2018 (18B).

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