My View from South Hill
Sunday, June 19, 2011
This post is for members of the Ithaca College class of 2015, our entering freshman class. Others are welcome to read it as guests!
Your high school graduation ceremonies have been completed, along with the rest of the hoopla surrounding the end of your senior year. The beginning of your freshman year in college is about two months away. From now until then, you might be working. I am sure you are also spending quality time with friends, knowing that you will never again be together in quite the same way you were through your high school years.
This is a special moment in your life and you know it. You will always remember these months for your feelings of accomplishment and pride, for a twinge of sadness that your high school years have passed, and for excited anticipation as well as bit of nervousness about the big steps that are ahead of you.
I’d like to suggest that in addition to allowing yourself to fully experience this range of emotions, you might also be deliberate in taking advantage of this special time. This is a moment to reflect on and bring closure to what you have done and who you have been to this point. It is a time to ask yourself who you want to be and what you want to accomplish next. What will you be remembered for as a high school student? What would you like to be remembered for as a student at Ithaca College?
I hope you will take advantage of this summer to put yourself in some settings where deep reflection can take place, both alone and in the company of friends. Why not debate the significance of a poem, literary character or song lyric with friends until at least 2:00 a.m.? (Parental rules on curfew take precedence over this suggestion.) Why not reflect on the beauty and potential that exists in a single day by going to a quiet spot near your home and watching the sun come up?
During my in-between summer, I spent one night in a big old oak tree on public land that I had walked past many times between my home and the junior high school I attended. (My parents will learn about this for the first time if they read this post.) I no longer remember what caused me to think that was a good idea but I do remember some of the thoughts I had as I listened to the night sounds, reflected on what I was hoping for in college, and tried to stay awake for fear of falling out of the tree.
You will all, I hope, read Ransom – our first year reading. My last suggestion to you for this summer is that you underline every passage that seems important to you personally in your life, and write in the margin why. On the inside front cover, write three or four things that describe who you are. Also write down a few things you are proud of from your high school years. On the inside back cover, write down a few things you hope to accomplish as a college student. If you hope to become more empathetic, more open to a wide range of people and experiences, or more self-confident, be sure to write those things down. Find a place somewhere in the book to write one way in which the world seems out of whack to you. Describe specifically what would need to change to fix it.
If you do those things, I promise that you will in future years cherish this book beyond measure. It will become a window into who you are today, a window that will otherwise become cloudy with time. It will help you understand who you are trying to become. When your future self encounters what you have written in this book, you will feel challenged and delighted at the same time.
I hope you embrace this summer as one of those rare moments in life when you stand ready to take a major step into the unknown, into your own future. I know you are ready to join us on campus – and we are so very ready to welcome you.
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