College Spotlight: Baylor University
Freshman Year Update
By Will Hedberg
College Expert Counselor: Sue Luse
Hi! My name is Will Hedberg, and I attend Baylor University in sunny, warm Waco, Texas. Having graduated from a small, private Catholic school with only 70 kids in my senior class, it was important for me to find a college or university with a fairly large number of undergraduates, successful sports programs, and one that would expose me to more cultural, religious, socioeconomic and academic diversity. During my sophomore year, my dad and I headed to Texas to explore four schools. Baylor stood out immediately! It has such a pretty campus and when combined with the demanding academics, the high-tier athletics, and just over 14,000 students, I knew this was the place for me. Their school spirit is also one-of-a-kind with full student sections cheering on the Baylor “Bears” at every sporting event. In addition to the campus, academics, athletics, and school spirit, there are also many unique traditions that make Baylor an all-around great choice.
Baylor campus organizations make it very easy to “fit-in” and make friends. Aside from sponsored clubs, sports, and activities, each dormitory strives to create their own sense of community that is welcoming and offers creative ways throughout the year to get to know people. Whether you are an introvert or extroverted like me, the atmosphere at Baylor accommodates everyone with this sense of friendship and brother/sisterhood. I have found a great group of friends, via the Club Golf team.
Aside from the added bonus that they have cars and off campus apartments with awesome amenities, like pools and basketball courts and rec centers, more importantly they are kind, caring and supportive. I truly believe I have made life-long friends here at Baylor.
Behind Baylor’s pursuit of academic excellence is a commitment to Christian faith. Academically, we are required to take two religion courses. On campus there are many religious organizations or fellows to join if you want to incorporate spirituality into your daily life. Once such organization is called Lifeline that meets every Monday. All are welcome to attend regardless of religious background. There is a different topic and Christian speaker each week. These groups are more interactive than other Christian outlets on campus and so popular (1500+ students attend) that it’s held in our Basketball stadium!
I have touched a bit on friendships and the religious aspects that make Baylor so great, but if exciting Division 1 athletics is what you are looking for in a college or university experience let me share just how Baylor delivers this and more. Aside from the state-of-the-art sport facilities like the McLane Football Stadium and the Ferrell Basketball Center, every sports team here is outstanding! There is no other way to state it. The football team recovered from last year’s record of 1-11. This year we beat Vanderbilt in our bowl game to finish with a record of 7-6. Our men’s basketball team was projected to be the worst in the Big 12 Conference but placed top 5 in our conference. They made it into the ‘March Madness’ bracket and beat Syracuse in the first round. Our Lady Bears Volleyball team beat the #2 team in the country en route to a NCAA tournament appearance. The women’s soccer team made it to the ‘Elite 8’ in their NCAA tournament. And best of all, this year the Lady Bears basketball team WON the National Championship over Notre Dame!
There are some ‘one-of-a-kind’ traditions that truly make going to school at Baylor very special. Passed down from generation to generation, these long-established customs ignite the campus and unite the student body with a sense of pride and ownership. There are many, but I will share my top five favorites. The first tradition is ‘Dia Del Oso’, aka the ‘Day of the Bear’. Dia occurs on a Tuesday in April and is dedicated to celebrating our lovely mascots, Lady and Joy, American Black Bears that live in the bear sanctuary on campus. This event kicks off with a Christian celebration the night before called ‘Noche del Oso’ (night of the bear). During the actual day of the bear there are games and festivities for students, family, and children to celebrate these special bears.
The second tradition is ‘Christmas on the 5th’. This is our Christmas celebration during the week before we head home for the holidays and is a wonderful study break from finals preparation. The best part of this tradition is the Christmas tree lighting. The lighting is followed by Christmas carols around campus and a parade down 5th street. The third tradition on my list of favorites is homecoming. Baylor has one of the oldest homecoming celebrations in the world and the largest homecoming parade out of every university in the US. Festivities start six hours before the coin toss of the football game. The parade begins at this time and takes about 4 hours! After the parade, there is a long wait for those freshmen that want to ‘run the Line ‘(I will touch on this later). After the game – win or lose – a celebration finishes the day. Now one of Baylor’s oldest traditions and my fourth favorite is ‘Dr. Pepper Hour’. Until the University dubbed DrPepper their official soft drink, (formerly known as ‘Coke Hour’) this tradition dates back to 1953 and continues today where students, faculty and staff gather together every Tuesday and Thursday from 2:30-4pm and enjoy a delicious DrPepper float in the Student Union Building. Last but not least, my all-time favorite tradition at Baylor is ‘Running The Line’. When someone says they “ran the line”, they can only be referring to our University. We are the only school that is officially allowed to let students run onto the field before every home game. Thanks to being ‘grandfathered’ in after the NCAA banned this practice, Baylor was the first school and now the only one allowed to have this tradition. Just freshman are allowed to run the line, accept on ‘Senior Night’, in which case seniors join the freshman. There is a lot of waiting that occurs in order to ‘run the line’ but believe me it’s all worth it! We can begin to assemble for the line as early as we want in the designated area, but admittance won’t start until two hours before kickoff. Before we run onto the field, we have to wait in another line called the “tunnel”. When the time comes “motivational music” starts playing and the Baylor Chamber of Commerce Line Division has to link arms to prevent us from storming the field. When they finally unlink their arms, we storm the football field in a crazy, chaotic manner and finish our run up to the designated student section just behind the opposing team and then serenade them with our “Sic ‘Em” chant. It can only be described as a surge of yellow shirted freshman, since we cannot run unless we are wearing our personalized yellow “Baylor Line Jerseys”.
I really appreciate and thank you for taking the time to read my spotlight on Baylor University. I hope I have painted a picture for you of what life is like here at Baylor and how much this place means to me.