If it’s not going to be easy, what to do? Tilden said it’s a myth that, “If you’re struggling and need help, it’s a sign of weakness.” Seek help from professors, she said. Join study groups. “There are so many resources here. We really want you to succeed.”
Brown questioned the notion that there is one “Colby Experience.” He said, “I think the biggest myth is what you read in The Princeton Review about Colby.” It may give one person’s anecdotal experience, but everyone will have a unique experience at Colby. He urged students not to put too much stock in their peers’ reviews of individual professors either. Sometimes it’s worth taking a risk, he said, because, “Your experience may vary.”
Earlier the panel of five accomplished young alumni also stressed the importance of faculty mentors. “Find a professor. Latch onto them like a leech, until they take a restraining order,” said Oliver Sabot ’02, director of malaria programs for The Clinton Foundation.
Gillian Morejon Gutierrez ’00, daughter of a lobsterman and a nurse, recalled being so nervous on her first day of college that, “I was probably in the bathroom,” rather than paying attention during orientation. “I didn’t believe I belonged here. Patrice [Franko, (economics and international studies)] made me believe I was worth it.” Gutierrez proved Franko right. She won a prestigious Watson Fellowship and is now a high-ranking emergency manager for the U.S. Department of Labor in New York.
So, how did the new orientation work out? Students and professors gave it high marks. And on at least one COOT, there was anecdotal evidence that it may have elevated expectations for academics and intellectual discourse.
In an Old Town canoe in the middle of Wyman Lake, two first-years paddling between islands were overheard having an intense discussion about which one was better. Not which Simpsons episode; not Sam Adams or Coors Light (conversations actually overheard in years past). These two argued Hamlet vs. Twelfth Night. “The soliloquy in Twelfth Night is so amazing,” one said.
Coincidence? Time will tell.