By Stephen Collins '74

Members of the Class of 2011 were pioneers for a substantially different orientation experience when they arrived on Mayflower Hill in August. Gone, after 25 continuous years (and sporadic incarnations before 1982), is the shared reading of a first-year book. Also different: instead of heading right out on a COOT trip, students spent 36 hours on campus with faculty members in programs and discussion groups.

The changes from recent years address a widespread desire among the faculty and administration to enhance the intellectual and academic focus of the orientation program. The theme was “Meaningful Work and Life at Colby,” and the program asked students to reflect on that in a variety of ways, from considering the work of people they know and of public figures to writing an essay on the topic and discussing it formally and informally in COOT groups before and during their trips.

A panel of young alumni and a panel of faculty members discussed the concept of good work in the contexts of academics, extracurricular activities, and career goals. According to Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Jim Terhune, a goal of the program is to convey that Colby cares deeply about excellence, integrity, and serious reflection about ideas.

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