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Mr. Rogers' Alma Mater

“It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood.”

That statement was certainly the case for me as I toured Rollins College hours before the torrential rains hit. Fred Rogers, arguably the most impactful man to Gen X (and the Millennials, to some degree) happened to attend said college. Admittedly, as soon as I saw his painting hanging in the admissions office, I was positively impacted. Considering my admiration for the man, I immediately assumed that an institution Mr. Rogers would choose to attend is certainly an institution worthy of consideration.

Should one automatically consider the value of a college based on the fact that Mr. Rogers - or fill in the blank with any other respectable, accomplished human being - went there? There could be an argument for that. But the very notion, unfortunately, is an example of an oversimplification the vast majority of us resort to when assessing and valuing colleges and universities. We like to generalize in order to comprehend all the comparative factors in our heads. The truth is that Rollins may have been a great place for Mr. Rogers and thousands of other students. It has so much to offer as a liberal arts institution on a beautiful lakeside campus in the charming town of Winter Park, FL. But there are a lot of nuances to consider when deciding if a college is great, good, average or poor: the first of which is the question of whether or not the institution meets your needs and is a great option for you. But I digress.

What I saw in Rollins was a mission fitting of the great Fred Rogers.

Rollins College educates students for global citizenship and responsible leadership, empowering graduates to pursue meaningful lives and productive careers.

I heard over and over again the notion of global citizenship and education for the purpose of impacting others. According to the college, they are among the top in the country for the percentage of students participating in alternative breaks intended for volunteer and service opportunities. Mr. Rogers would be proud.

For those driven to build robots or design wind turbines, Rollins might not be the best option for you. They are a true liberal arts institution, hyper focused on small classes, meaningful discussions, and prioritizing the humanities. They do have excellent Chemistry and Biology majors, however. And the dramatic arts, economics and business focuses are superb. They boast the number one graduate business school in the state of Florida as a matter of fact. I would certainly recommend Rollins for those seeking a small, liberal arts college in such a setting. It is among the most expensive schools in Florida, but one might be surprised what they could acquire in scholarships and grants as Rollins is generous with financial aid.

As for Mr. Rogers and his role in this, let’s just say he is an embodiment of the liberal arts institution. He was a leader with a well-rounded education and expertise who used his knowledge and ability to truly make the world a better place. He had a fundamental grasp of ethics, psychology, communication and, of course, his faith. Maybe he didn’t major in any one of those subjects specifically, but he executed all of them well, making him the complete professional he was.

That’s liberal arts, folks.

“So let’s make the most of this beautiful day, since we’re together, we might as well say. Would you be mine? Could you be mine? Won’t you be my neighbor?”

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