Jun 24, 2009

Cheering for the Fighting Squirrels

Any college counselor worth his or her salt will tell advisees that selecting a college is all about the “fit.” We don’t focus on rankings or prestige. Instead, we look at the individual and try to find solid matches from among the thousands of colleges to which high school students could theoretically apply. Without giving away too many trade secrets, I can tell you that we use a huge variety of institutional characteristics, personal preferences, and academic qualities to make these matches.

One cornerstone of the college experience I think may be overlooked in our carefully crafted searches could very well be the school mascot. It occurs to me that after taking months to go over schools, develop lists, and painstakingly prepare applications, it might come as a surprise to learn you have just signed on to be a Banana Slug, a Fighting Anteater, or a Humpback Whale. Spending four years in high school as one form of cat or other (Lions, Tigers, or Cougars…oh my), students assume that colleges follow similar unwritten rules for mascot assignments and stick to the dignified or predictable like something in the bird family—Eagles, Hawks, Falcons, or Cardinals for example. Sorry, but that isn’t necessarily so. If you think cheering for a Tree or a Stormy Petrel (you’ll have to ask Oglethorpe University) or standing tall for the Zips or the Fighting Poets could diminish your college experience, I suggest taking a few minutes to go the extra mile and do the homework.

To facilitate your review of college mascots, I recommend a very direct, no frills website maintained by the Society for Sports Uniforms Research (SSUR). Based on 25 years of data collection, the SSUR provides a database of virtually every college or university I can think of. Included is an alphabetical listing of schools with such basic information as location, founding date, enrollment, school type, and religious affiliation. In addition, the listings include athletic affiliation, colors, and nicknames (the all-important mascot). A live link puts you right on to the school’s website where you can continue your research. Without comment and minimal advertisement, the SSUR opens a door to the world of Razorbacks, Super Bees (and Queen Bees), Polar Bears, Lord Jeffs, Terriers, Muleridders, Camels, Keelhaulers, Roadrunners, Hardrockers, and Sea Otters. One word of warning however, the historical information provided may not be entirely correct as Stanford’s inglorious past as the Indians is mysteriously left off. Nevertheless, the SSUR has undertaken a huge assignment, and we can cut them a little slack if some details aren't exact.

We tell students that there's much to consider when evaluating post-secondary institutions. This has the potential of being among the weirder of the considerations.

No comments:

Post a Comment