Finding ‘Fit’ Can Be a Stretch

The New York Times: “Last fall, when John DiGravio arrived as a freshman at Williams College — a private, liberal arts institution in the Berkshires — the conservative from Central Texas expected to be in the political minority. He did not expect to be ridiculed … At first Mr. DiGravio was taken aback. Then he took his outsider status as a calling. A few months earlier he had started a small, conservative club. He decided to make it bigger. He invited a speaker to give an evening talk on ‘What It Means to Be a Conservative.’ Dozens of students showed up.”

“These days, elite students like Mr. DiGravio, who can financially and/or academically choose from an array of colleges, are often obsessed with ‘finding the right fit.’ Surveys like ones conducted by EAB, an education consulting firm in Washington, routinely indicate that for this group, ‘fitting in’ is one of the top factors when deciding where to go to school. But some students, like Mr. DiGravio, 19, are discovering the pros and cons of being an outsider.”

“’If you have support, that shock can be translated into an advantage,’ he said. That was the case for Jonah Shainberg, a fencer from Rye, N.Y., who is Jewish. When he was accepted to Notre Dame, a football-heavy Catholic university in Indiana, his mother balked at the idea … But once he was there, Mr. Shainberg, who graduated this year with a bachelor’s degree in business administration, discovered something about himself he had not totally understood before: His faith was central to his identity. ‘I think Notre Dame made me more Jewish,’ he said.”