This post has been two weeks in coming as my good intentions have repeatedly been sidelined by many pressing issues: the last onslaught of interviews before our prospective students all headed back to school, the arrival of 468 new students and the opening of the new addition to the Cotter Union, COOT departures/COOT returns, and the beginning of the academic year. And already, the first week of classes is over!
It was so exciting for me this year to see the new students arrive. There is always a big reception late in the afternoon of move-in day attended by the first year students and assorted family members, along with various faculty and staff. This year it was held in the Pulver Pavilion, a new addition that provides a big gathering space in the Cotter Union. It was opening day for Pulver as well as for the students, and the space was full of excitement. I made an effort to find several students with whom I had worked especially closely over the past year, and it was wonderful to see them here on Mayflower Hill. I left the reception with a real sense of satisfaction that the Class of 2011 is finally here, and I know these new students will make some great contributions to the life of the college.
The orientation process changed a bit this year, and the next day had a more academic flavor as students, together with faculty and alumni panels, considered the notion of Good Work, a concept promoted by Professor Howard Gardner of Harvard’s Graduate School of Education. Then last Thursday all the newly arrived students headed off for the outdoor portion of the orientation process: four days spent on one of more than 50 COOT trips, some pretty hard core and others considerably less strenuous. Safety is a priority on these expeditions and there were no medical emergencies among our students, although two groups participated in the helicopter evacuation of an injured through-hiker on the Appalachian Trail. There were a couple of other adventures as well, but everyone arrived back on campus safe and sound.
Placement tests, meetings with advisors, and the return of the upper classmen, among other things, filled Monday and Tuesday of this week, and then classes got off to a good start on Wednesday. Athletic teams are practicing (and the men’s soccer team had exhibition matches against the squad from Ireland’s University of Cork), The Echo has produced two issues, and the activities fair has recruited loads of students for all sorts of clubs and activities. So we are definitely off and running.
Meanwhile, over here in Lunder, we’re madly trying to plan our fall travel schedules. Most of us are incurable travelers and love the opportunity to visit different parts of the country and the world as we seek to connect with prospective students interested in Colby. But it is a hugely complicated process. We need to schedule around various on-campus events, attempt to accommodate college fairs and visit programs at schools far and wide, and make sure that the office isn’t left completely vacant in case someone needs an interview! There are plane tickets to buy, hotels and cars to reserve, and endless phone calls and e-mails to the high schools we seek to visit. We plan interviews on the road and sometimes try to visit with the alumni volunteers who help us out in various cities. It’s a huge jigsaw puzzle with multiple layers, and if you strolled into any of our offices right now, you’d see maps, folders, invitations, calendars and other detritus covering our desks and, in some cases, our floors. E-mail inboxes are full to bursting, and of course there’s not a high school in the country that can return our phone calls, since things are crazier there than they are here.
And with that, I’ll sign off since there is a student waiting to interview with me. But just before I go, I want to share a link to the blog of a parent who dropped his son off to begin his Colby career last week. I think this dad has captured the mix of anticipation and loss that parents experience when their children go off to college (myself included). A word to prospective parents who are reading this: you too will reach this point!
(Used with permission, of course!)