Sewanee is definitely amazing school--but it is a school that will only work for certain types of people. So read up about Sewnaee before coming here!
To begin, Sewanee is in the middle of RURAL TN. It is about 90 minutes to Nashville and 50 to Chattangooa, so that is definitely a factor most people think of before they commit to Sewanee. Secondly, the academics are quite rigorous here, and grade deflation is notorious. I believe Sewanee's freshmen retention rate is only about 85% due to the forementioned facts--not everybody can deal with being in the middle of nowhere, and you cannot simply skate by a Sewanee.
Academics: You must work hard, but it's definitely manageable to do well here. You must study hard and do *most* of your reading if you want a chance at an A. Depending on the teacher, I would say you can usually just read the more important texts. I feel like a lot of professors overload the reading. The great thing is, however, are the professors. Attendance is closely monitored due to small class sizes and unavoidable class participation, so it is definitely recommended you go to class! 95% of the professors are simply amazing--easily approachable, friendly, interesting, and explain things clearly. Sometime like 98& of the faculty have a Ph.D. If you are struggling--definitely meet with your professor and utilize the unique Sewanee professor-friend relationship! Furthermore, the students at Sewanee are usually not too competitive and help each other out if people in the class need help. Something like 98% of the students have a job are in grad school a few months after graduation, which is wonderful! We also have awesome honors societies (Order of the Gownsmen--you get to wear a gown after achieving a certain GPA at certain level), and mostly great departments! I would say the strongest departments are Geology/forestry, English, History, Art History, and Econ. I haven't heard too much amazing things about the Math department. Travel abroad is pretty popular here--Sewnaee offers year, semester, and summer programs in lots of great places!
The University: I feel like J. Crew should have a catalog shoot here in the Spring or Fall! It is simply beautiful--well manicured, beautiful trees, vast land, gothic architecture. If you like the outdoors, Sewanee is amazing--there are 1300+ acres at your disposal. The outside is great, and the inside of most building are taken care of. The library isn't exactly pretty, but it has everything one needs. Printing is free and computers are abundant. Laundry machines are pretty available in most dorms (do not need to pay). Copies are pay as you make, which can suck. However, Sewanee should take a long hard look a some of the dorms. Some can have mold, electrical problems, etc. which is absurd for how much we pay! Also, since the campus is so big, the drawback is that dorms can be as much as 15 minutes from campus, and parking is pretty strict here (cannot drive to class). However, the bright side is that most people bond together in the dorms, and they are great places to make friends! Parking is also great--each dorm has a respective parking lot. In addition, there are theme houses and fraternity and sorority houses that students can apply to live in. McClurg is the main dining hall, which is unlimited from breakfast until 9 PM. McClurg can be really great at time (family weekend, beginning of school), but gross at times (end of the year). However, it is better than most schools--that main issues is the repetitiveness! You also have $200 each semester to spend at the pub (great drunk food open until 2AM) and The Globe (might close it, but it is a sandwich shop). Off campus, there are a few yummy cafes (Blue Chair is great!), Stirlings (sells coffee, too), Mi Casa and Papa Rons is also frequented by students. There are also a Sonic and McDonalds off campus. I've never felt unsafe at Sewanee--there are usually no reports of violence, sexual assault, robbery, etc. I think it's because we have a strictly enforced honor code on both social and academia terms. I would like to point out, though, that the outside areas of Sewanee, Monteagle, and Tracy City are not crime free. There is a big meth problem in those areas, and it is not suggested you hang around those areas alone and in late night/early mornings. However, I've never heard of anything bad happening--just be smart! Sewanee is pretty leniant with drinking, just don't carry a fake ID (against the honor code plus you don't need it!). Drugs are on the Sewanee campus (good amount of weed, adderall, coke), but it's not the social norm to indulge all the time. You will get busted for drugs, but besides that, I feel like the police are pretty great. Some even offer rides home at night! Also, the campus van BACCHUS runs during the weekends so nobody drunk drives.
Social: The typical Sewanee kid is white, upperclass, went to private school, preppy, bright, happy, social, and has a drinking problem. Sewanee is the epitome of work hard-play hard (more play for most). Greek life is very active--definitely rush if you have even the slightest interest. Sororities and frats are a great way to get to know people, and there are an extremely diverse people in them. Greek life is the main social outlets on the weekends. The great thing is that the parties are open to everybody on campus. There is one bar close to campus which cards heavily, and one in a Mexican restaurant about five minutes which is very popular with students. Greek life isn't a huge popularity contest like a lot of schools, although there are definitely cliques within Sewanee's student body. However, everybody coexists pretty peacefully. As far as clubs, I'd say Sewanee definitely lacks in that area. Students at Sewanee don't tend to participate too much, it's a pretty apathetic campus if that regard. Sports are barely even talked about since we are the worst in D3 in most of them. Sewanee is more socially liberal than the rest of the south, and there are a good amount of people from the North/Midwest/West that are accepted with open arms! Most kids dress up for class as a sign of respect to the professors, so there is noticeable materialism, but not more than any other private LAC. The dating scene is pretty hit or miss--lots of hook ups with a few serious relationships thrown in the mix. Most Sewanee students are very attractive if you like the southern preppy/proper type. One very noticeable thing about the student body is the happiness--if you love Sewanee, you show it! It's a great energy and place to be!
Best Things About Sewanee: The professors, traditions (OG, ghosts, walking on the seal, honor code, etc.), academics, welcoming social scene, Greek life, campus beauty, Spring and Fall party weekends (absolute mayhem), and the happiness.
Worst Things About Sewanee: Bad dorms (Gorgas, Johnson, McGrady, Cannon are probably the worst), "Boonie" Dorms (Quintard, Gorgas, Hodgson, Emory, Phillips, and the French House are all long walks), strict parking during class time, grade deflation, lack of things to do off campus, repetitive social life, sports enthusiasm.
Bottom line: If you are the right type of person, Sewanee will be an amazing time in your life where you will transform into a great student and make wonderful friends! However, don't go into Sewanee blindly--read up to make sure it is a great fit, or else it can be miserable if you hate it.