This Friday is College Colors Day, which is a day where people all across the world are encouraged to support their school by wearing the colors no matter where they are. It tends to be bigger at schools that have strong athletic programs, and I don’t think it is a coincidence that it falls on the kickoff weekend for College Football. Regardless, it is cool to think about the potential of having every single former and current student around the world showing support for their school.
Like many people in student affairs, I have different schools that I could potentially support on Friday. My MS is from Florida State University, and I currently work at Texas A&M University, both schools with strong athletic programs, easily recognizable colors, and enrollments of over 40,000. However, this Friday, I will be wearing a different set of colors; Blue and Gold. My undergraduate degree is a Bachelor’s of Science in Economics from Quinnipiac University in Hamden, CT, enrollment of about 5,000 undergraduates when I was there.
Now, I am prepared to answer several questions about the colors I am wearing on Friday, or not even be recognized as wearing my school colors, but that will not stop me. I was raised in a small school. Being at a small school allowed me to be involved in several different organizations, and get to know my administrators and professors better. I was invited over to my economics professor’s house after graduating, and was able to develop a strong relationship with several of them. Those administrators assisted me in some of my darker times in school; when my fraternity brother was killed, when I lost my scholarship, break ups, make ups, etc. I know have the fortune of calling those administrators my friends and enjoy interacting with them as professionals at conferences or online. I wouldn’t change my experience for anything, and often can’t imagine my four years of undergraduate at a larger school.
I will proudly be sporting the Bobcat Blue and Gold this Friday because being a small school boy in a big school world allows me a unique opportunity; I get to serve as an ambassador for Quinnipiac University to most of those who ask me. I get to tell them about our new medical school that has state of the art facilities. I get to tell them about our world famous polling institute that gets mentioned almost daily during election years. I get to tell them about our Albert Schweitzer institute, which has several Nobel laureates on its Board of Directors and created an immensely strong partnership between a small private school in the Northeast and a poor community in Nicaragua that adds value to both places. But most importantly, I get to use those lessons I learned on a daily basis in the shadow of Sleeping Giant Mountain when serving my own students in this “big school world”.
Throughout my career, I will work at many different institutions. Some may be big, others may be small. Some public, others private. But the one thing that I will always remember is that I was raised in that small school in Southern Connecticut, and that I should always work to let others know the amazing experience I had there. Some people are big school people, others are small school people. After working or attending three, I can say that at this point, I am just a school person. Its not the number of students, its the number of caring professionals that those students get to interact with. That is what will make the difference in their lives, and maybe a few years down the road, they will write a blog post about how much those interactions had meant to him.
So if you are like I am, and went to a small school for undergraduate, but a bigger school for your Master’s degree or work at a bigger school, I challenge you to wear your small school colors this Friday, and take the chance to be an ambassador for your school.
Are you a big school or small school person, and how has either shaped who you are today?