On the eve of my one year anniversary of working at Conn, I wanted to reflect somehow. By chance, today, I wrote a quite long note to the Class of 2018 who arrive tomorrow in their Facebook group. I’m the “adult” who monitors and maintains a presence there. Over the past eight months, I’ve gotten to know these students. From sending them their first congratulatory tweet (emoji always included,) to recent months when I would be answering questions (the class got into the habit of simply tagging me in a question they wanted answered.) You can ignore some parts about literally moving in, but at the core of the letter is not dissimilar from a refection about my own time at Conn.
I’m entering my sixth year of live in New London (although, admittedly, I now live more than 80 yards from work, so that’s an improvement) and every year has been different although, without a doubt, last year was the hardest, but also the most fun. I learned how to associate with and care about the place and the people differently. Challenges aside, I’m lucky to work at a place I actually care about, with people who care about our work. I enjoy going to work most days, I laugh harder there than anywhere else, and I’ve learned from remarkable people. Just like I say in the note to the Class of 2018, it flies by. But it’s also a place that cares and won’t let you fail. Despite its occasional flaws, CC is a place where people care about the students — and shouldn’t that be what a college is all about?
I could recount specific memories and triumph moments from the last year (and really ought to at some point,) but for now, I’m comfortable reflecting on the past year by looking at it through the context of what’s about to come.
In the note, I included a bit of advice about being open to the unexpected. Over the last year and a half, that’s become my motto of sorts. After all, that’s how I ended up getting this job — and how other amazing moments have come about… simply by being present, flexible and open to the unexpected.
It’s almost here. Yes, tomorrow is the big day and I’m almost as excited as you are (well, almost.) The first days at college will undoubtably be exciting and busy. There may be moments of homesickness or feeling overwhelmed and that’s not uncommon — heading to a new place and taking a huge leap like this is scary. In the end, you’ll look back on Orientation and your arrival with great memories. Like I did, you’ll find yourself at the start of Winter Break thinking, “how the heck did I get here so fast?!” This semester will go by feeling like seconds. You’ll find yourself, sitting at home in the quiet of Winter Break longing to come back to school. (In 2018, it will really hit home when you walk across Tempel Green and receive a diploma, but let’s not get too crazy at the moment.)
In these first few days — and through your whole time here, there is support at every corner. Your house fellows and floor governors will be there for you from the moment you arrive. Academic support and personal and emotional support are there for you too, so I encourage you to meet these departments and be open to getting a hand while you get settled in this new, crazy different environment. Remember, you are coming to Conn, a school that cares about each student. We only have about 1,900 students for a reason — so every person on campus is here to help craft your amazing experience.
In the next 24 hours, you’ll probably have questions and nerves. I encourage you to be excited but you might want to approach questions differently than in past weeks. Feel free to message me, of course, especially if they are pressing and urgent. Consider, however, that questions you ask, especially publicly here, might make others just a tad bit more nervous or curious. More importantly, every question you have will be worked out once you arrive — so maybe just wait, arrive, and be surprised.
If I can share one bit of unsolicited advice as an alum, it’s this: be open to the unexpected. That might be a new area you never thought you’d be interested in (or didn’t know existed.) That might be changing your course of study… or meeting people from places you’ve never been. (You’ll learn a lot from friends who live around the world, but you’ll also learn a lot from friends you meet who share your same home state yet lived quite different lives.)
In short, be open to the unexpected— plan, but plan to be flexible because you really don’t know what will come your way.
At Conn, you’ll work really hard, but you’ll also have a lot of fun. You’ll have the luxury of a beautiful campus with jaw-dropping sunsets, but you’ll also have personal access to the most interesting and approachable professors you could imagine. Take advantage of everything.
It’s been a really fun opportunity for me to meet you all over the last few months in this group and online. From the first night of admitting students through the countless, many questions of recent weeks, I’ve seen how broad the Class of 2018 is. I remain happy to answer questions as they come up, and I do hope to meet many of you in the next few days. I’ll be at Arrival Day with my name-tag on, often walking around with our videographer and photographer, and I’ll be speaking at an Orientation event on Tuesday. Feel free to stop by and say hi too.
So, be excited.