The Harbinger Online

Junior expresses feelings on KU being more than just a fall back school

It was just a few days into my junior year when my parents asked me about where I wanted to take college visits. I told them there was no need.

I’m going to KU.

Not going to “just” KU, nor am I “settling for” KU. I’m going to the only university I’ve ever wanted to attend.

The decision was made in 1965, long before I was born, when the Simpson family first purchased season tickets for football and basketball games. I’ve walked down Mount Oread and been carried up it (in my younger years) since I was four. When I was 10, my dad, brother and I bundled up with ponchos and headed into the stormy November weather. KU got pasted 64-0 by Kansas State, and our clothes were as defeated and drenched as our beloved Jayhawks.

Freezing and tired, I was still immersed in the atmosphere, with the band, the cheerleaders and of course, the food.

My passion for everything KU has taken me to games as far west as San Jose for the NCAA tournament and as far east as Miami for the Orange Bowl. I’ve seen games at campuses all over the midwest, such as Nebraska, Iowa State and Oklahoma.

Each campus has further proven one thing. Lawrence is not just a great place to go to school: it’s the only place.

Too many high school upperclassmen feel the need for a rationale for picking the local school. Recently, a classmate inquired what schools I was interested in. When I told him my plans, his initial response was, “Why?”

He couldn’t understand why I would choose the local school so easily. It’s not just for the in-state tuition. It’s for the deeply-rooted traditions that separate KU from the typical university.

I can guarantee that this classmate has never seen 16,300 students pack Allen Fieldhouse for an exhibition game like they will tomorrow night against Fort Hays State. I can guarantee he’s never waved the wheat with 51,000 of their closest friends after yet another Reesing-to-Briscoe touchdown connection. And I can guarantee he’s never gotten goosebumps as the Rock Chalk Chant echoes throughout a stadium, a university and a city after the Jayhawks seized the national title two Aprils ago.

That’s why I couldn’t imagine attending a university where the stadiums are half full, and the school traditions are started by lame Youtube videos pleading for you to “Bring your power towel to every game.” Seriously. Look it up. Willie the Wildcat and a collection of KSU football players are playing guitars and imploring you not to forget your power towel. The video is properly titled, “Hey KSU: 1989 called, it wants it promotional video back!” Probably not coincidentally, the coach featured in the video has since been fired.

Traditions aren’t something that can simply be manufactured; they must develop naturally over a long period of time. The Rock Chalk Chant originated in 1886 from the mind of a KU professor, not that of a creepy mascot with a Wildcat head and a man’s body.

For the stubborn, the skeptical and the MU fans, here’s a few objective reasons why choosing KU is the right call:

When an upperclassman is asked why they do not want to go to college in Lawrence, one of the most popular reasoning is that they don’t want to go somewhere made up entirely of East graduates. This is simply untrue.

From the graduating class of 2009, 111 students moved on to KU. When that number is quadrupled to get a general feel for how many Lancers are now in Lawrence, it still only makes up under 1.5 percent of the total students at KU. Considering there are 197 new faces for every three East graduates on campus, I think the typical Lancer can manage to find new people. Besides, the students that make these claims are often the ones likely to stick to their old high school friends once they arrive at their university next fall.

There’s no shame in picking the affordable, area school that has proven year after year it can produce the cream of the crop. Notable alumni range from a Pulitzer Prize winner – William Inge – to Vernon Smith, Nobel Prize winner in Economics. The founder of basketball coached there, and the only basketball player to score 100 points in a game played in Lawrence. Heck, even the mom from “Boy Meets World” – Betsy Randle – was a Jayhawk.

If this isn’t enough, consider the economic benefits.

Many of these students, whether or not they are from East, have found one thing in common — nearly $15,000 in saved cash by choosing the affordable school just up K-10 over out-of-state alternatives. Attending KU costs $7,400 annually for in-state students. However, the price jumps to $11,000 at the average out of state university, according to CollegeBoard, an annual increase of $3600. Multiplied out over four years, and the in-state Jayhawks have $14,400 they can put towards the national championship memorabilia that will be available when the men’s basketball team brings home the title this spring.

No longer should the average high school junior or senior feel ashamed to add an explanation to their in-state college choice. They’ve already got just under 15,000 reasons why staying close to home is the smart choice.

Just because the tuition is cheap doesn’t make the academic experience second-rate. The Fiske Guide to Colleges ranked KU as one of its “best buys” for public schools in terms of academics related to cost. U.S. News came out with top 25 lists for several graduate programs, and KU had 25 of its programs make these lists.

If these factors leave you unconvinced, there’s always that other deal breaker.

Help with the laundry is only 45 minutes away.

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Kevin Simpson

Kevin is a senior at Shawnee Mission East. This is his fourth year on staff. Read Full »

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