Although I may grow to regret it, I did not spend my final spring break as an (undergraduate) college student ditching Oregon for some decent weather and traveling south – as many wiser students did.  Instead, I visited home, caught up with old friends and got some much needed senior project work done.  Taking it easy, I was able to relax, finally get some extended sleep hours, and, with now only about a month of my undergraduate career remaining at Pacific, reminisce of my now fast-dwindling time left in the grove.

While I admittedly have had a beef here and there toward the university, I can ultimately say that my experience here has been extremely positive.  If I were to play the time machine game, I’d definitely pick Pacific again in a heartbeat.  No question.  But what perhaps is even more compelling is how easily that decision, at the time, could have gone another way.

I find it funny looking back, that when I began my college search over four years ago, I cannot say that Pacific was on the top of my list, or even on my radar for that matter.  Ironically, it wasn’t because of a high tuition price, Forest Grove’s weak, to say the least, reputation as a college town, or even that it just didn’t feel like the right fit.

To put it simply, the notion of attending Pacific never occurred to me because I didn’t even know it existed.

I’ve lived in the Portland metro area all my life and while I didn’t begin actively looking for schools until high school, I can still remember the ones that had made some sort of impression upon me, and Pacific, sorry to say, was not among them.

Not that Pacific was, by any means, unimpressive. But its branding, that is its ability to get the Pacific name out to the masses was certainly lacking.

I don’t remember any recruiters coming to my school; no sports highlights on television; not even a corny daytime TV ad with a hokey theme song.  In fact, the only form of branding I ever experienced prior to coming to Pacific was a nice, shiny periodic table of elements given to me in my sophomore chemistry class, with none other than Boxer brandishing the upper-left corner.

I’m majoring in journalism.

Luckily, through a college-locating website I eventually found that Pacific had the programs I was looking for and was still close to home.  A campus tour and a hefty down-payment later, I was a Boxer; a decision that will shape the rest of my life, and one that could have very easily gone a number of ways.

Looking back, if I had never visited that website, then maybe I don’t find myself here writing this article at all.  Who knows?

I still even get the occasional “wait, you mean Pacific Lutheran?” from friends when I visit home.  Similarly, my pre-med roommate says that he often is met with confusion when he references Pacific at conferences outside of the state, even though Pacific is especially renown in that particular field.

If the past few years have been any indication, Pacific does not plan to let this happen again.

In only the four short years I have spent in Forest Grove, Pacific has gone through an image overhaul – an ongoing re-branding process that includes the likes of Boxer’s newer, more intimidating logo, the addition of “Oregon” to the university’s official title and countless other improvements aimed at getting the Pacific name out to the world.

The newly redesigned athletics website, goboxers.com is a perfect representation of this transformation; with it and a freshly reinstated football program to boot, Pacific has quickly formed itself another identity through which it can effectively market the university.  And with enrollment peaking at record highs each fall, I’d say that the process is working.

Of course Pacific will never gain the same mass recognition of larger, Division I universities – after all, its small size and seclusion are part of the reason we came here in the first place – but it is refreshing to know that even after we are all gone into the real world, the school will live on.

Just stop asking us for money.

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