Rankings Are Well Deserved, Says this Senior’s Dad

Trinity University students touch the tiger

by Darin Mackender –

At this time four years ago, one wall of our home office was covered with notes, graphs, and spreadsheets reflecting the college search of our daughter, current senior Allyson Mackender. She had examined every angle: majors and minors; extracurricular activities; cost of attendance; financial aid; rankings; size; average class sizes; location; and, of course, the likelihood of admission, i.e., selectivity. There were seemingly unending conversations about “reach” schools and “safety” schools, and sleepless nights trying to make sense of it all.

By the holidays, Ally had settled on a school in the Chicago area. The decision seemed final. Nonetheless, in February, she asked if we could visit Trinity. With time short, we scheduled a trip for the following week. After a full day on campus, as we took one last quick walk around campus, Ally told her mom and me that she had changed her mind and wanted to attend Trinity. She said it just felt right. Although I too had been very impressed with the visit, I told her to sleep on it. Later that evening, as we waited to board our plane, Ally continued to ask for my opinion. Finally, I said, “I am not the one going to school. It’s your opinion that matters. But, since you asked, I think Trinity would be a great choice—top-notch academics, genuine people, vibrant campus, interesting location. I don’t think you would ever regret the choice. Like I said, sleep on it.” She did and the rest, as they say, is history.

The Mackender Family -- dad Darin, Ally, and mom Jennifer
Now, as Ally registers for classes for her final semester, I can’t help but reflect on her choice. Undoubtedly, it was the right choice, but why? A few things stand out. First, and foremost, Ally has benefited greatly from the high level of engagement between faculty and students. Like most its peers, Trinity has small class sizes taught by faculty with terminal degrees in their disciplines. But the faculty also seems to be deeply invested in the success of their students. For example, in the first month of her first semester, Ally went to talk with one of her HUMA professors about a paper. She ended up having a long conversation with that professor about her interests and her goals at Trinity and beyond. That conversation had a profound impact on Ally and was the first step towards her declaring an English major. Since then, she has had many similar conversations with that professor and others. That level of engagement is not easily measurable, but is invaluable.

Second, Ally has reaped tremendous rewards from Trinity’s global perspective. Ally studied in Denmark during the fall semester of her junior year. Her semester abroad, which was arranged by Trinity, was life changing. It expanded her horizons, and she returned more confident, more mature, and more worldly. I previously wrote about it here. Finally, Ally has grown immeasurably as a result of Trinity and San Antonio’s richly diverse communities. She has been exposed to different political, social, and cultural perspectives, and has been forced to examine and re-examine her own beliefs and values.

The Mackender Family -- dad Darin, Ally, and mom Jennifer

I recently read that the Wall Street Journal and Times Higher Education ranked Trinity #1 in Texas and #6 in the nation for outstanding faculty. It is an interesting ranking, focusing more on what students get out of a university than how hard it is to get in to that university. Trinity’s high rankings are well-deserved. As a parent (and a significant financial supporter of Ally’s education), I am deeply appreciative of Trinity, its faculty and administration. Ally graduates in six months. I know she will be leaving school well prepared, academically and personally, for the next stage of her life. Honestly, I have no recollection of Trinity’s so-called “selectivity.” I will never forget, however, what it has done for my daughter.

About Darin

Darin Mackender received his undergraduate degree from Nebraska Wesleyan University and his law degree from the University of Nebraska College of Law. He is an attorney with Fisher Phillips in Denver. His daughter, Allyson, is a senior at Trinity University.


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