The University of Dallas Experience
By Jonah Selner
Here is another in our series of student testimonies to supplement our 2013 College Guide.
My University of Dallas experience includes four years at a small Catholic university that offers a life-changing study abroad program and a rigorous Core curriculum rooted in the Great Books. While exposure to the Western Tradition and acquisition of careful reading and critical thinking skills have been transformative, the most valuable experience I have had at UD has been failure.
Freshman year, I failed at balance. I knew that UD had tough academics, and I overcompensated by diligently spending hours in the library, turning down opportunities to meet new people and try new things. By the middle of spring semester, I realized my grades were fine and that I needed to devote more time to making friends out of my acquaintances. I learned quickly that many of my casual friends at UD were worth knowing on a much deeper level than I had previously allowed. From that semester on, I had a more balanced approach to spending time with the interesting, virtue-seeking, genuinely fun people who attend UD.
Sophomore year (and my whole life!), I failed at having patience. Rome was my cure. UD has its own campus, situated on a beautiful vineyard just outside of Rome, where the majority of UD students spend a semester. The summer before Rome, I was impatient with the dull jobs I worked in order to save for traveling. When I arrived, I was impatient to experience the Italian culture. I grew frustrated when the Italian bus drivers were on strike and I missed a soccer game. But eventually the slower pace of Italian culture got to me and it suddenly clicked – life is too short, and we need to stop and enjoy it. I had heard those clichéd words countless times, but my Rome semester made them a reality in my life.
Junior year, I failed to see the big picture. Halfway through my undergraduate career at UD, it was difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I stopped learning for learning’s sake and started perceiving my education as merely a means to a career. I failed in my personal relationships, as I allowed small problems to bog me down. Fortunately, I had those to whom I had grown so close, my newfound patience (thank you, Italian public transportation), the support of the UD community and daily access to the sacraments. I learned endurance junior year, and UD provided the support I needed to learn it.
If you are not failing, you are not growing. It is a compliment to UD that its students are able to grow from their failures in ways that are simply not available at your average institution. Things like daily paper writing and Shakespeare reading unexpectedly teach valuable life lessons, genuine character formation and self-discovery. As I enter my senior year, I am excited to see how I will fail, and how UD will teach me to grow from my mistakes. I would encourage all high schoolers to come visit UD and see for themselves not only all the different ways it will challenge you, but all the ways UD will teach you to grow from those challenges.