Quintessential Kenyon: Student Life, Uncut

My Admissions Story

Phillip Gray Clark
August 10, 2015

As a tour guide all summer, I am constantly faced with the same question: “How did you end up at Kenyon?” That is the million-dollar question, and all 1,600 students here each have their own personal answer. I have probably repeated my story hundreds of time this summer, but it still is great to reflect on how I ended up on this Hill.

Since I am the baby of her four kids, my mom was a seasoned veteran by the time she got around to my college process.

Everyone in that picture went to Davidson, apart from my mother, who served on the Executive Parents Council and drives a big white Mercedes with a large DAVIDSON MOM bumper sticker. (Always a joy when I had to drive that.) I had spent a large portion of time up at Davidson with my sister during my high school years. I began to envision myself there, and by junior year I had decided that I was going to be the newest member of the Davidson Class of 2017, without looking at a single other school. Spring of my junior year, my mom informed me of Kenyon College, a small liberal arts college in — OHIO? There was no way I would be leaving the South, and if on the off chance I left the South, I wouldn’t be in Ohio. My imagination led me to believe that Ohio was just cornfields and maybe a soybean field (turned out to be not that far from the truth, but I digress). The first time I visited Kenyon, the tension in the car could be cut with a knife. I didn’t want to be there, and my mom had somewhat tricked me: A fake family reunion resulted in my arrival in Gambier. The angst in the car was far too high.

I took my tour on a cool April morning and I knew that it wasn’t going to work, simply due to the fact that the 40-degree weather was too cold for me. I reluctantly took my tour, and by the end found myself smiling. I decided to come back my senior year for an overnight. I stayed with Sean Smith ’16, a graduate of my prep school in Atlanta. Those 48 hours were some of the most fun hours of my life; talking with students, meeting with professors and just sitting around appreciating the beauty of Kenyon sold me instantly. On the car ride back to the Columbus airport I remember calling my mom telling her that I was going to apply to Kenyon Early Decision.

A few months later — Dec. 12, 2012, to be specific — I remember sitting in Brook Batcheller’s 7th-period history class learning about the causes of the Civil War. I was in a state of fear, for I knew the decision would be released soon. I remember receiving a text on my phone from my mom stating only “URGENT WHERE R U.” I knew this was urgent for two reasons: 1) My mom always uses proper English when texting and 2) She always signs off her texts with “Love Mom.” I slyly texted her saying exactly where I was. A few minutes later she appeared in Askew Hall with my acceptance letter.

That day was the start of my Kenyon career. Those moments are forever ingrained in my memory, and my mom and I both crying tears of joy in the halls of Westminster is one of the highlights of my Kenyon experience. I have not regretted my decision to come to Kenyon a day since. This school has become my home, and I encourage all students interested in a liberal arts education to come up and visit. Maybe you’ll get a tour from me!