It’s about that time of year when intelligent young men and women make a decision that will affect the next four years of their lives: Where to go to college. I made that decision once, back when I was a tan youth, fresh off the beach, muscles taut from an afternoon spent batting a volleyball back and forth with some nubile young ladies. “University of Michigan,” I announced proudly. “That is where I will learn to be a man.”
Four months later, I changed my mind. “Michigan State Univeristy,” I re-announced double-proudly. “That is where I will host some baller parties.” Of course, I didn’t back down from U of M simply because they suck at throwing parties. No, I changed course for a much simpler reason: I wasn’t very excited about the U of M motto.
I imagine other youths, fraught with upper education choices, each tantalizingly potent in its own manner, will come to a similar conclusion as I did, and base this, the second- or third-most important decision of their life, on a handful of words, generally from a dead language. With that in mind, allow me to lend a helping hand. Come, young ones, and follow me to Wikipedia.
First, some trends to look out for. You’re going to find an assortment of mottos that reference God. Steer clear of these universities. Not that they are bad schools or that God is a miserable learning companion – it’s just when your school puts its faith in the hands of an all-powerful, all-knowing meta-being, that seems a little bit like inviting the police to your dope-ass house party. College is about learning and preparing for business and all that stuff, but it’s also about having a lot of fun. And if by school decree you’ve got God looming awkwardly over your shoulder you’re not going to make any of the bad decisions that result in all of the actual, human learning experiences.
Also, avoid schools with a motto that turns on the Biblical verse, “The truth shall set you free.” The motto seems to speak to criminals more than young learners and has an eerie similarity to that old Nazi standby, arbeit macht frei.
So then, what should you be looking for? If you’re eager to commune with nature, one of these options might best serve you:
- As an eagle towards the sky – Bowdoin College
- The voice of one crying in the wilderness – Dartmouth College
- Rule by Obeying Nature’s Laws – Kansas State University
- In the mountains, of the mountains, for the mountains – Lees-McRae College
If you live in your parents dimly lit basement, give these a shot:
- Let them give light to the world – Amherst College
- They shall have the light of life – Barton State University
- Let there be light – University of California
- Light and Truth – Chowan University
- Knowledge is the Light of the Mind – Colby College
- Let your light shine – University of Colorado
- In Thy light shall we see light – Columbia University
- Light – Morehead State University
If you’re into that law-and-order thing, how about these:
- The welfare of the state depends upon the morals of its citizens – University of Florida
- Laws without morals are useless – University of Pennsylvania
- Light and law – University of North Dakota
If you want to expel spit and snot whenever you pronounce your motto, see if you can handle these Scottish Gaelic mouthfuls:
- Theid Dìchioll Air Thoiseach (Perseverance Will Triumph) – Cape Breton University
- Mo Shùile Togam Suas (I Will Lift Up My Eyes) – University of Calgary
If you’re a girl, try these:
- Strength in Unity; She Seeks the Heights – University of Cincinnati
- Under God’s power she flourishes – Princeton University
- She who earns the rose may bear it – Sweet Briar University
And, if you really want to dig down to the sexy core of issues, definitely go here:
- Truth Even Unto its Innermost Parts – Brandeis University
Ultimately, if you’re looking for a motto along the lines of “Crush your enemies, See them driven before you, Hear the lamentation of their women,” well, maybe you should be looking into life as a professional wrestler. I doubt you need a college education for that, maybe just some time in the good old school of hard knocks.