I started the difficult college search process my junior year of high school. I toured most of the colleges on my list during the summer, when students on campus were few and far between. I was the most excited of all to visit SLU. I had already Googled St. Lawrence prior to my visit and the pictures online were enough to convince anyone to come here. St. Lawrence was this beautiful oasis that seemed to be filled with amazing experiences and unique opportunities, more so than any other college I had heard of. My mom and I excitedly drove up to Canton, New York, to take a tour of St. Lawrence on June 20, 2014.
I was greeted by the smiling face of my tour guide, Ally Friedman, a summer Admissions intern who was a rising senior at St. Lawrence. Despite our four-year age gap, Ally seemed like someone I could see myself being friends with. She treated me like we were peers, even though we were from two completely different walks of life. There weren’t many people on campus when I toured, since it was the summer, but that was no challenge for Ally. She led me through campus outlining in detail the SLU community and all this University had to offer. She had me hungry with her descriptions of theme dinners in Dana Dining Hall, like Canadian and American Thanksgiving meals. When she spoke about her abroad experiences in Kenya and Thailand I could see the love for travel and adventure in her eyes and I felt eager to have my own. And when she took me to secret study alcoves like the Green Ireland Room or Herring Cole I could picture myself surrounded by books, studying away. Every where we went, the few people who were on campus all seemed to know Ally - every single person said hello to her. Ally was relatable and I could see myself striving to be as involved and well known as she was. Throughout the tour, Ally showed me the close-knit community that is so common at St. Lawrence, even when there was barely anyone on campus. At the other colleges I had toured during the summer, the campus felt empty and hollow, but with Ally’s endless knowledge and incredible anecdotes, the campus felt alive and buzzing. She showed me how SLU could be my home as it had been hers for the last few years.
The beautiful buildings, the breathtaking campus, and unique study spaces all impressed me and increased my interest in SLU. The endless amounts of clubs and organizations to join, the great academics and the bountiful internships all were important characteristics of a college that I wanted and St. Lawrence had. But it was the community, the heartwarming welcome, the sense of home I felt the second I walked onto campus that made me fall in love with this school. There is something about St. Lawrence, the type of people who come here and the community that is undeniably unique to SLU. These are things you cannot see but that you feel, and without Ally Friedman, I might have not recognized them.
After the tour, my mom and I sat in our car speechless. All my mom could utter was, “Wow” as we silently devoured the Pub Cookie Ally had given me. My head was still spinning with all of Ally’s words and I felt in that moment as though something life-changing had occurred. Of course, something life changing had happened since I decided to apply Early Decision. There was no question that St. Lawrence was the place for me.
I say that I came to SLU because of my tour guide with humor and sincerity. Of course, I came to St. Lawrence for more reasons than just my tour guide, but Ally’s love for SLU enhanced and encouraged my own love for it as well. With my time here so far I’ve learned that as great as Ally was, most people at St. Lawrence are very much like her. Ally was representative of the SLU student body as a whole. Students here speak of St. Lawrence with the upmost adoration and honor and people genuinely love it here.
When I reached out to Ally to tell her about this blog post, the last thing she said to me was, “If you are ever in Washington D.C., let me know and we can meet and catch up!” Honestly, I would have expected nothing less from her or from any other St. Lawrence alum. Laurentians stick together and go above and beyond for other students, whether they are past or present. We are Laurentians for life and the community that connects us is transcendent of time, distance, or age and that is exactly why I applied Early Decision to St. Lawrence.