Dear Colby Parent:
I am writing to update you on a few recent happenings on campus and to share some thoughts with you about items of note with respect to your Colby student's experience at this point in the semester. We are having a very good fall on Mayflower Hill. Some particularly noteworthy items and events include:
- The Colby College Bicentennial Kick-Off Celebration and Bicentennial Ball. In honor of the College's 200th birthday we began what will be a year-long series of events in October with a gala that featured the first public preview of a wonderful documentary film on the College's history, performances by the Colby Eight and Colbyettes student a cappella singing groups, and a remarkable keynote address delivered by Pulitzer Prize winning historian and Colby Alumna Doris Kearns Goodwin '64. The evening was capped off by a Bicentennial Ball at which the entire campus community came together for an evening of dancing and good company.
- Two extremely exciting construction projects are moving forward this fall. The striking addition to the Colby Art Museum is fully enclosed now and work on the interior is progressing rapidly. The project is on budget and on schedule to open as planned in October of 2013. And, just across Mayflower Hill drive from the art museum work on the new science building is in full swing. The building which will house the Computer Science, Mathematics, and Psychology departments is scheduled to open for the 2014 fall semester.
- Colby celebrated the 60th Lovejoy Award Convocation on November 11th. Established in honor of Elijah Parish Lovejoy, valedictorian of the Colby Class of 1826, abolitionist, and America's first martyr to the cause of freedom of the press, the Lovejoy Award is given annually to a journalist who continues the tradition of fearlessness and freedom. This year's recipient was Pulitzer Prize winner Bob Woodward, the renowned Washington Post journalist who is best known for his role in reporting the Watergate scandal in the early 1970's. Woodward delivered a fascinating talk to a packed house in Lorimer Chapel. http://www.colby.edu/academics_cs/goldfarb/lovejoy/recipients/2012/
- President Adams recently announced the formation of a trustee task force on student accountability. The task force, which is made up of representatives of the board of trustees, the faculty, the student body, and the administrative staff has been charged to "investigate and analyze the current campus climate on academic and social accountability." The work of the task force will take place between now and April when it will report its findings and recommendations to the board. (A copy of President Adams' notice to the community has been posted on the Parent and Family website at http://www.colby.edu/administration_cs/student-affairs/trusteetaskforce.cfm
I would also remind you that regular information about campus activities and events can be found on the Colby website and in the Colby Echo, the student newspaper which is available both in print and online.
For students, the Thanksgiving holiday is the last break before the end of the semester. Each academic term tends to build steam and gather momentum in the final weeks so most Colby students have been spending more time reading class assignments, churning out papers, and preparing for exams than they were earlier in the term. And that pace will only increase in the coming weeks. So we encourage students to make catching up on sleep and getting a lot of rest a high priority over the break.
The journey through college presents different challenges for students depending on what point they are at in their college careers. While there are no hard and fast rules that apply equally to all individuals, some common experiences for students at this point in the academic year include:
- The academic workload and expectations are by and large greater than they were in high school, and as such can start to feel a bit overwhelming. It's important to remind students that they are prepared for and up to the task. If they weren't they would not have been admitted to Colby.
- For those who are traveling home for Thanksgiving, this can be an odd time socially in that students often feel disconnected from high school friends in ways they have not anticipated. While it may be a bit confusing, this sort of recalibration of relationships is a normal part of the transition they are going through.
- Fall of the sophomore year is when Colby students declare their majors. So in addition to keeping up with a busy class schedule and choosing courses for Jan Plan and the spring term, sophomores are figuring out what major they want to declare and identifying a faculty member in that department who will be their academic adviser in the future.
- Students in their second year also tend to explore new and different co-curricular activities and social opportunities. Sophomores are often surprised by the extent to which their experience is different from the first-year. While it can be unsettling at first, most students find that their experience becomes even richer and more fulfilling as they explore new paths and make new personal connections.
- Study abroad is the defining feature of the junior year and significantly impacts students whether or not they choose to study away from Mayflower Hill. Since nearly two-thirds of juniors go abroad just about every student's friend groups are altered and redefined both in the fall and in the spring. The comings and goings also often impact rooming assignments in ways that may be stressful at various points in the year. But, the exciting and life-changing experiences that students have far outweigh any oddness or inconvenience students may experience.
- The other issue that tends to start to loom large for juniors is thinking about post-Colby opportunities both with respect to job prospects and potential avenues for graduate school. If they haven't already done so, getting meaningfully connected to the Career Services office can be very helpful for students in their junior year.
- Seniors often feel as if they are somewhat in a state of limbo with their attention split between pursuing capstone academic work on campus and making plans for what they will be doing after graduation. Advising deans, academic advisors, and the Career Services staff can all be extremely helpful as seniors negotiate this important transition in their lives.
Again, I want to stress that each student is her/his own person and experiences college in a way that is unique and personal. Moreover, I want to remind you that there are a wide variety of faculty and staff on campus whose primary interest is in helping students think about and work through the questions and challenges that students face. Please do not hesitate to contact us if we can be of assistance to you or your student.
- For many too, senior year can be a particularly bittersweet time. Their connections to Colby, to faculty and coaches and staff members with whom they have become close, and most especially to each other are profound and the realization that those relationships will change dramatically at the end of the academic year is hard for many. On the other side of the equation, most seniors experience both anxiety and excitement about the opportunities and changes that lie ahead.
I wish you a very happy Thanksgiving and a safe and joyful holiday season.
James S. Terhune
VP for Student Affairs
Dean of Students