Taking stock of my first year
Throughout my educational experience, I have seen lots of things come full circle. I started my college-visiting tour junior year of high school at Colby College, and after three more months of looking, found myself standing in the lobby of Lunder House on accepted students’ day, handing in the blue card saying I planned to enroll. Eight months ago, I submitted my first opinion piece to the Echo discussing how shocked I was that September had already flown by. This week, I’ll wrap up my freshman year by reflecting on the profoundness of discovering that before you know it, a new pack of students is coming in to replace you.
The bewildered thought of “hold on...it’s April?” came when I saw the first round of accepted students walking around the campus this past week with looks of excitement and exhaustion on their faces. I remember that look well; it’s the “okay this is the fourth New England small liberal arts college I’ve seen” look. For a moment, I put myself back in their shoes; what did I think the first time I stepped on this campus? Did I get all that I had been told I would find? In all honesty, for the last couple of months, I’ve been conflicted about what I signed up for here at Colby.
While I’ve made amazing friends, changed more for the better than I ever thought I could, and been inspired by the professors and classmates I’ve come in contact with, all the talk of “hate is not a Colby value,” made me wonder: why do we even have to be reminding people? I know that no school is perfect and that the issues we’ve been facing plague many campuses across the country, but I couldn’t help but wonder if all the efforts being made by the remarkable individuals on this campus were futile. After all, we’ve been through an entire movement for gender respect and equality and I still had to opened the Discourse and saw that “Skirt Day” had occurred.
After the initial moments of inner monologue passed, I snapped out of it and went into the bookstore to pick up a Newsweek. Towards the back, I saw an article entitled “The Great College Road Trip.” I didn’t give it much consideration (it is that time of year, after all) until a page in, when I realized that they were talking mostly about the New England college loop. Before I knew it, words describing Colby’s “Georgian Revival buildings” and how our campus “fits together” were jumping out at me from the page. Intrigued, I went on the Newsweek Education website; we’re ranked 23rd in “most desirable small schools” and are 13th on the list of “most desirable rural schools.” That’s pretty impressive. There’s even a quick mention in the article about how one set of parents vowed to keep silent and to let their son make his own choice, but agreed amongst themselves that Colby was at the top of their own list. At this point, I was in the Spa, watching the first day of Pride Week unfold before me, and noticed the board set up by the Bridge, inviting people to write how they were going to be an ally or support diversity on campus. It was already filled with neon Post-its. A tour group passed by, and the parents looked at the rainbow banners and NoH8 campaign happening around them with a look of immense satisfaction and astonishment on their faces. It only lasted a couple of seconds, but that was all it took for me to find myself swelling with pride and happiness that these people still saw something special in this school. It was all I needed to realize that I’m just as in love with Colby as I was the first time I stepped foot on Mayflower Hill.
The first year of college is an adjustment. I’ll never forget my high school guidance counselor telling me that going to college is like getting married. It’s a choice that will affect the rest of your life, but it’s also something you have to work at. There will be doubts, rocky periods, a honeymoon phase, milestones, and moments of joy.
Exactly a year ago, I chose Colby, and this week I saw a number of accepted students make the same choice. In fact, my roommate and I hosted an accepted student this week. The first night, as we all sat in the room (a room that I can’t imagine not living in next year), she hesitated for a moment, but eventually asked the same question I had asked my Colby host in what seems like a lifetime ago: “So, what do you love most about Colby?” See? Full circle.