You may have heard of the tiny college mentioned in the title: Wabash College. It’s also highly likely that you haven’t. Maybe because it’s an all-male, liberal arts institution with less than 900 current students. If you’re thinking “holy crap that’s smaller than my high school” you aren’t alone. And yet, what occurs at this college, deeply embedded into the cornfields of Western Indiana, is something so unintelligible, so enigmatic, so profound, yet so simple, that this charming 94-acre wonderland serves as a catalyst for physical, emotional, and existential transformation.
The bedrock of this college is the Gentleman’s Rule: “A man is expected to conduct himself at all times, both on and off campus, as a gentleman and a responsible citizen.” That’s our rule. No handbook. No list of do’s and don’t’s. Nothing else. One rule. What other collegiate institution places that much responsibility and trust in its students? You might even think that’s just simply irresponsible and naïve to hold 18-22-year-olds who just moved out from under their parents’ careful supervision accountable to this standard. But then your thoughts might be hindered by the fact that 1 out of 8 graduates from Wabash College go on to be president or CEO of a company. Or the fact that the Princeton Review rated Wabash as the #1 Alumni Network, #5 Best Internship Opportunities, and #11 Return on Investment, among many other accolades. How can this tiny school be so highly acclaimed and its students so successful?
See, Wabash teaches its students to think critically, act responsibly, lead effectively, and live humanely. You are not taught information. You are not taught how to memorize facts. You are taught how to think. You are taught how to problem solve. But more than classroom-education, you are taught how to engage in civil and productive dialogue about all topics, or preparing for “the cocktail party of life” in the words of the famous professor Dr. Tobey Herzog. You are taught how to appreciate, how to love, how to challenge yourself, how to respect others. You are taught how to be a gentleman and a responsible citizen. And this education does not just influence its students. It significantly impacts the professors of these students, the coaches, parents, siblings, friends, spouses, everyone who is exposed to the Wabash Way. And these claims are supported each year on the Annual Day of Giving.
This past week Wabash College had its 4th Annual Day of Giving, which is a surprise event that challenges those affiliated with the college to donate and give back to the school. The results? Prepare yourself. There were 4,193 total gifts given. The total amount raised in this <24-hour period was $849,817. Between ~5:00 AM and 11:59 PM on April 19, we raised almost $1M. Wabash College has fewer alumni in the HISTORY of the college (Since 1832) than IU has current students. There are only 11,000 current alumni who are even alive. And I mean people who did not even go to this school donated gifts. This is why people love Wabash. This is why our alumni group is #1 in the world. This is why people say Wabash Always Fights. This is why Wabash offers so many amazing opportunities to its students and alumni. This is why so many people know someone who went to Wabash. This day was the definition of Wabash College. There’s a reason our alumni network is considered the Wabash Mafia. We are tight-knit. We are loyal. We are proud. We are the Little Giants of Wabash College.
This post was probably the hardest I’ve had to write. Not because of the topic, not because it’s not interesting, but because it’s impossible to encapsulate Wabash College with words. It sounds made up. It sounds fake. It sounds like people are just exaggerating. Trust me. I thought the same. And then I went there. No vocabulary so extensive, no poetic words so delicate, no description so articulate will do it justice. It’s almost a disservice to the Wabash Way to try and explain it. It’s simply incomprehensible. Wabash is an experience. Wabash cannot be explained with adjectives because Wabash is an adjective. Wabash is just Wabash. And no matter how hard you try, you can’t pay homage to the value it possesses. You truly cannot comprehend it’s meaning. It’s just Wabash. And you just don’t understand until you experience it. But once you do, you just know.