In the 5th grade, I announced to my mom that I wouldn’t be going to college. “Does everyone HAVE to go?’ I queried. My older sister’s knowing smile (or maybe it was a sneer) crept across her face as she parroted, “Yes. YOU HAVE to go!” My stomach sank. I was the kid who was afraid of leaving home. Until high school, I couldn’t do sleepovers. No matter how hard I tried, inevitably, I found myself downstairs in my friend’s kitchen at 11 p.m., pajamas on, teeth brushed and calling my dad with the news he knew was coming…”I’ve got to come home.”
Suffice to say, beginning my first year at St. Lawrence was a little traumatic. Everything was new and the choices ahead of me were seemingly endless. What did I know about career paths, dorm life, social clubs or Dana Dining Hall? Clueless, I spent the initial four months of my life at SLU glued to my first-year peeps, collaborating on everything from choosing classes to salad bar sides. Not surprisingly, like many first-year students I signed up for too many clubs, ate too many carbs and made an error in judgment or two along the way. I attended random events on campus in the hopes of meeting new people, found my comfort zone and discovered a way to truly spread my wings. Everything seemed hard.
As the spring of my first year rolled around, I found myself more accustomed with SLU and a new sense of familiarity with my surroundings, including the different types of social opportunities, academic offerings and living arrangements available for sophomore year. Commons College, one of the theme houses on campus, was introduced to me by a good friend with whom I attended the same high school. Commons has a living and learning dual theme; residents take a class together of their choosing each semester for a half credit, and raise money for the Little River School, an underprivileged school in Canton. Immediately, I fell in love with the people in the house and the philanthropy/education philosophy that governs living there. Drawn to to Commons, I applied and was thrilled to be accepted as a resident for my sophomore year. However, this meant living away from my very best friends on campus—another hurdle.
Sophomore year rolled in swiftly, and with it came many changes. Aside from living in a completely new place, year two at St. Lawrence also means facing the horrifying reality of having to decide what to do with one’s life; or more commonly known as ‘choosing a major'. There is no doubt this decision can be paralyzing, but it goes without saying that having a year at SLU under your belt is crucial in terms of cruising through the voyage of sophomore year. Admittedly, the novelty of being a first-year student has worn off, but has been replaced by a greater sense of my interests and strengths, solidified relationships with my advisors and professors and an overall increased confidence in my ability to navigate the unchartered waters. While I haven’t yet written my name in blood next to a chosen major, I have zeroed in on a couple choices that feel right due in large part to my experience with the LINC program.
Laurentians Investing in Networking & Careers (LINC) is a mentor program open to current first-year students to apply for their sophomore year. As a member, I was paired one-on-one with a St. Lawrence alumnus who was working in my field of interest. The program also provides students with access to prep training sessions, private networking events, information sessions and in-city trips. We even were offered a class in etiquette reminding students how to eat properly (I thought I had this down!), write thank you notes, make introductions and create connections. The class was actually incredibly helpful and my parents couldn't be more pleased.
Nearing the end of my first semester sophomore year, life at SLU is feeling pretty sweet. There is a new chill in the air and as I make my way through mid-terms and final exams, the brilliance of this year’s North Country autumn is giving way to the stark beauty of winter's call. Thoughts of traveling home for the holidays are bittersweet, filled with the excited anticipation of being home and rekindling with old friends with the realization that with my departure, I’ll leave behind my Commons family. Overnights have never been so good.