When I was applying to college, I really just wanted to get away from home and get as far away as possible. When my high school’s college counselor recommended I look at Kalamazoo College, I wanted to laugh—actually I might have. I said sure, told my parents about it, and they looked into the school with me. Suddenly, my parents were attached to the idea of me going to Kalamazoo College and set up a trip to an open house. On a chilly, Sunday morning, I hopped in my parents’ car and we made the two and half hour drive from Royal Oak to Kalamazoo. The brick buildings with the changing leaves of October seemed almost magical. It didn’t look real, it looked like a photoshopped image of what a college should look like.
We entered the Fine Arts Building (the FAB) to listen to panels of students and faculty talk about what Kalamazoo College was all about. The more they talked about K (as they affectionately referred to the school), the more I felt like maybe I could actually go here. I sat in the auditorium all morning listening to talks about student life alongside academics and it seemed like maybe this wasn’t such a laughable option to me.
During a break in the program for lunch with current students, my parents and I had a wonderful talk with a girl who was a senior that recently returned from study abroad in China. She was double majoring in psychology and business and was very involved on campus. As she talked to me about her life at K, I had to ask, “how is it possible that you’re doing all of this stuff and studying abroad, AND getting a double major?!”
She laughed and said, “That’s just how K is, because of the K-Plan, it’s so easy to do whatever you want.”
It was like my mom could read my mind because she asked, “What exactly is the K-Plan?” The student explained how Kalamazoo College doesn’t require you to take classes you don’t want to take. You really only need to complete your major, meet a language requirement, take a few P.E. courses, and complete other small requirements like a seminar and a senior project. “Because it’s so open, you end up getting double majors and minors and things almost by accident. It also makes it really easy to go abroad for two quarters.”
We finished lunch, thanked the girl for talking with us, and headed out on our tour of campus. As we were walking, I was mulling around what the girl had said about the curriculum being so open and really enjoying that. Walking around the small, beautiful campus, I was at peace. I wasn’t overwhelmed or full of anxiety. I felt calm; I felt at home.
Before we left for the day we stopped in to the bookstore where my dad happily bought me a sweatshirt for what he started referring to that day as “K College, your new school”. On the way home I wore the sweatshirt, took a selfie in it, and posted it on Instagram. Those two hours, and really the whole day, allowed me to realize that what I was looking for in college wasn’t necessarily literally distance from my hometown, my family, and all that I knew. Rather, I was looking for a change. What I was looking for was a place that was not as strict as my Catholic high school and not as mundane as my Metro Detroit suburb. I was looking for a weird place like Kalamazoo, Michigan and a campus that was open and accepting of any and all students. I still sent out applications to other schools, but when it came down to it, I knew where I would be. Closer to home than I ever thought, but it would feel like a different world and that was exactly what I needed.
– Izzie Kerivan ’17