The Sunken Garden
To my incredibly talented and inspiring Tribe Family:
- You’re not going to get straight A’s anymore. It’s a terrible thing to realize, as many of you are used to being the top in your class. However, the courses at the College are downright challenging, so there’s no surprise there. But guess what? You don’t have to be perfect, because no one is. Just keep in mind that grades do not define you or your character. Do your best and put in the effort, because that’s all that is asked of you.
- Pick a few extracurriculars to join, but don’t go overboard. Like many of your peers, you’re probably used to doing a million things at once — and excelling at all of them. However, it’s important to know how to balance your classes, work and student activities. When I was a student at the College, everyone I knew seemed to be taking 18+ credits, holding down one (or two) on-campus jobs, and serving on the executive board for almost every organization they were involved in. And while many were able to juggle it all, a majority of them sacrificed sleep, healthy habits, and just plain time to themselves. Be passionate about what you do, but don’t forsake your personal well-being.
- The trek between Morton and Wren will always take you the full 10 minutes between classes. That’s just how it is. Even if you’re on a bike, it’s still going to take you a while to weave through and dodge pedestrians.
- Don’t go to Swem during midterms/finals. Trust me. Swem is crowded with other students who are constantly on edge, or haven’t showered, or worse, actually packed all their meals with them for that day and refuse to give up their computer on the second floor (yes, I will admit to doing the latter once or twice…). No shame. Still, there’s no sense in stressing yourself out searching for a study spot, unless you don’t mind camping out on the carpet. There are other places to study, so feel free to change it up every now and then. Empty classrooms, computer labs (my favorite was the one in the ISC), dorm lounges, the Barnes & Noble Bookstore, and more, await you! Plus, it’s nice to get a change of scenery.
- Do go to Swem during other times of the semester. It’s actually a really nice environment to do work in, and for some, to socialize. I wouldn’t want you to miss out on a crucial part of the W&M experience. Plus, you’ll always find a study table that meets your standards and is adjacent to an electrical outlet.
- If you find someone’s lost ID, go to the Directory. You can type in their last name and email them directly to notify them of your discovery. It just makes their search so much easier – they won’t have to search all of the front desks on campus, nor retrace their steps from the past couple of days. Plus, you’ll have to meet up with them to return their card to them, and there is nothing wrong with making new friends!
- Take advantage of the Rec Center (and running trails if you’re the outdoorsy type). Students need only present their student ID to gain access to the facilities at the Rec! Looking back, I wish I had gone much more frequently (3x a week would have been a good goal), because I would have established much healthier habits for myself sooner. After you leave college, you actually have to pay for a gym membership, unless you live in an apartment complex with its very own gym.
- Purchase a CW cider mug at the beginning of the year (since it’s January, do it now!). You’ll get free refills for the remainder of the year! And if you’re 21 and up, invest in a Green Leafe mug. You’ll thank me later.
- Are you, or is someone you know, going through a tough time? Go to the Counseling Center. I can’t emphasize enough just how underutilized this resource is. Can you believe it took me until my sophomore year to realize that such a place existed? It wasn’t until I was in crisis mode that a kind language professor suggested I make an appointment there; I’m happy to share that I ended up attending sessions there until my senior year. I participated in individual counseling and later transitioned into group therapy (the latter being my most memorable experience at the College). There are other services there, as well, including couples and family counseling, outreach programs, and resources for helping a friend in need. There is absolutely nothing wrong with asking for help. You won’t be penalized, you won’t be judged, and you won’t regret it. After all, when you break a bone or catch a nasty virus, do people tell you to not go to the hospital or clinic? Of course they don’t. They tell you to seek medical attention immediately, if not take you there themselves. The same is true for your mind. If you have mental health concerns, address them! Take care of that beautiful mind of yours.
Hope these were helpful. I know I wish I learned them sooner. If you have any additions or rejections of any of the above, feel free to share your thoughts by commenting below or emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.