I went on my own personal tour of colleges and universities in upstate New York over block break. No, I wasn’t trying to relive the undergraduate application process and wasn’t searching for a graduate school; I decided spur-of-the-moment to surprise my sister, a first-year at Ithaca College.

There were some tears (hers, I swear) and jubilation, but mostly curiosity on my part. It’s been an experience watching my sister begin college as I leave. While she has wide eyes, I’m digging my fingernails into the all-purpose dorm-ready linoleum.

It’s refreshing to see how excited she is for every part of school from the cafeteria food, to the local Wegman’s supermarket, and the sweaty inhales and exhales of dormitory life. She tried and failed to convince me to stay the night on the floor of her double in Holmes Hall—I’m not going to miss that aspect of college life.

Along with my parents, we also visited Hobart College in Geneva, where my cousin is a first-year, drove past Cornell University, and sped through a number of State University of New York schools sprinkled throughout southwestern New York.

I have to say: I was pretty impressed.

We have such a unique at experience at CC that I think we often forget there are thousands of other colleges and universities throughout the country that offer higher education in other almost-equally unique forms. Sure, we’ve got the Block Plan, but what else?

The journalism nerd in me was drooling over the Park School of Communications at Ithaca, specifically The Ithacan’s sprawling newsroom complete with a view overlooking a finger lake and the valleys surrounding the college. Hobart felt a little more like home; its tiny campus and even tinier student population reminded me of CC.

While walking awkwardly across other college campuses—probably looking an obvious outsider on a campus tour—I started to think about why CC stands out among other higher-education institutions.

Halfway through my sophomore year I was thinking about transferring. I hadn’t quite figured the college out yet, I missed playing baseball on a more competitive level, and I wanted to write every second of every day.

After Block 2 of that year it became pretty clear that leaving would have been a terrible decision.

I’ve written some 30-odd columns trying to figure out why I stayed and what really sets CC apart, and while I’m fairly sure that I still have no idea what I’m talking about, I’m ready to take a stab at it.

We’re really, really weird in the best of ways, and we generally care a lot about each other as a community. You have to try to be anonymous at CC, while other colleges—again, this is my opinion—foster environments where being excluded is maybe OK.

Our sometimes violent insistence to get everyone involved, both in the academic and social realms of the college, is really remarkable.

I think that’s what I’ll miss most about CC.

Jesse Paul, Editor-in-Chief

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