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HPU: More Than Just a Pretty Place

02.6.2014

By Amanda Crow, Campus Chronicle Staff Writer

The five swimming pools. The admissions tours on golf carts. The water fountains and classical music playing on the Promenade. For a college campus, it all seems too good to be true. That’s what the Huffington Post recently wrote about in an article regarding High Point University– how the amenities at this school make it what it is. The article reinforces a distorted perspective about the kind of students that attend HPU, as well as a stereotype about the college itself. Truth be told, it is so much more than what is quickly photographed. Any student at this university could tell you that.

As the Huffington Post observed, nearly $700 million has been spent over the last several years in campus renovations. Because of how well-taken care of the school is, and because of how fast the campus has been growing, there are some who believe in a completely false stereotype that only wealthy students attend HPU. To all of those nay-sayers out there, come to campus, meet some of the students, and see for yourself. Undoubtedly, High Point University provides, as the motto goes, “…an extraordinary education in an inspiring environment with caring people.”

The education part– that’s where the Huffington Post missed the mark. What they failed to mention in their article is the fact that U.S. News and World Report’s “America’s Best Colleges” has ranked this university as No. 1 Best Regional College in the South (two consecutive years), No. 1 for Best Undergraduate Teaching in Regional Colleges in the South, and No. 1 Up and Coming School in Regional Colleges in the South (also two consecutive years). Not only that, but HPU was named this year as the No. 4 private school in NC for the best return on investment. These rankings are not based on the campus grounds, either; they’re based on peer assessment, graduation and retention rates, undergraduate academic reputation, faculty resources, experiential learning opportunities and much more. These are all accolades anyone with access to the Internet could find, though. What you won’t find on the Internet are the personal testimonials from students about their positive experiences with professors.

I’ve only been here a semester, and already I’ve had professors take great interest in my future. Dr. Marc Foster, for example, heads the Department of Music, and also teaches a chorus class called University Singers. Dr. Foster aims to teach his students how to be better musicians and better people. Any one of us could walk into class, and somehow he knows right away if we’ve been stressing out or having a bad day. I’ve never, in my 12 years of schooling, had a professor care so much as to assess what kind of day their students are having. On top of that, he takes time out of class to make sure he explains why we do what we do– to let us know that our participation is crucial. I thought I was going to give up my love of music to become a journalist once I left high school, but Dr. Foster noticed my potential to be a voice major. Because of him I’m soon to be a double major. That’s another thing– as students, we’re free to create our own majors, mix any major and minor we please, and we’re free to change our minds. Additionally, in nearly all of my classes if there’s ever extra time at the end of the class period, my professors will review information on a one-on-one basis instead of handing out busy work. The educators here at HPU genuinely care about their students, on a personal and educational level, and that’s what makes High Point a truly “extraordinary education.”

There’s no forgetting the “caring people” aspect, though. The moment you enter campus, you’re greeted by a security guard who smiles, waves and sometimes even jokes with you to welcome you back. Recently my roommate had friends from home visiting her on campus. They took her out one day, and as they exited campus, the security guard stopped them, smiled, and said, “I can only let you go if you promise to bring her back!” That’s just the kind of feeling we all love to have, and that each member of the HPU family spreads. High Point isn’t our “home away from home.” High Point is our home.

The faculty, staff and all of the friends we’ve made here make it feel comfortable. Just ask my mother- she can’t stand it when I say “I can’t wait to go back home” after being back under her roof while on winter break for three weeks. I’m not the only one who has found solace in this environment.

I’ve recently had the opportunity to interview a fellow classmate about his troublesome and tumultuous past. A member of the Class of 2017, he has struggled a lot with family relationships and admittedly some poor choices he’s made. However, when asked what his reason was for attending High Point University, he says, “…To put myself in a place where I couldn’t fall back…You go and mess something up, this place is so caring– somebody’s going to notice. I was lucky. I definitely was lucky. I’ve met some good friends who’ve continued to steer me in the right direction. Because now I act a certain way, I’m held to a higher standard, which is what I was trying to do.”

To this student, and to many others, this university has a lot more to offer than a pristine environment. It’s a place for opportunity and a place where we can change and grow into a better person than we left high school as. Some mention it has a Disney World appeal to it. Sure, the environment is amazing, but it is the people on campus and the educational opportunities which truly make it magical. The happiness and the spirit of positive growth here are contagious.

The Huffington Post may have noticed High Point University for the campus, but what they didn’t realize is that the students are growing as much as the grounds. For some, it is that feeling of relief knowing that you can attend college 17 hours away from home (like myself) and not get too homesick. For others,  it’s the feeling of inspiration knowing that you’re in a healthy environment that will help you become a better version of yourself, because you are surrounded by professors who genuinely care about your future.

But for all of us, there’s a great comfort in knowing that our education has prepared us for whatever our future careers may throw our way after we leave HPU. All it takes is a visit to the school to fall in love and see what everyone here already knows -it’s the people and the education that make the difference.

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