Happy year one to Kenyon’s Class of 2022! We, the Council of Elders, are very pleased and excited to have you here with us. We love your style, your spirit. Your large numbers. Your sweet, chittery little bird voices as you skip down Middle Path in droves, animatedly discussing how awesome your English 103 classes are. Yes! We love you very, very much!!! Because of how much we love you, we at the Thrill would like to quell your nerves a little bit by giving you some advice about how to Make It in this crazy cartoon college. If you take our advice, you are certain to graduate!!! 100% money back guarantee. Have a good day, sweetie, and don’t forget to eat lunch! Xoxo, the Kenyon Thrill. WE LOVE YOU!!!
This first paragraph of advice has to do with Peirce. Ah, Peirce. She is big. She is crowded. She is an over-stimulating, anxiety-inducing hellscape. But don’t worry! You’re not alone in your fear. I, a Crusty Ancient, am still fucking terrified of Peirce. There’s no order. Everyone’s walking in about 23940328 directions at once. THERE ARE BIG AND TALL MEN! However, it’s also the only food source included in your tuition and YOU MUST EAT (please eat– mom wants you to grow big and strong). So, how does one reconcile Peirce’s chaos with its centrality in our lives? Let’s talk about peripheral vision! Be aware of the space around you. Is that a happy boy talking to his friend, not looking where he is going whilst carrying an almost-overflowing bowl of soup? You might want to take an alternate route that does not involve crossing his path. Always put on your blinkers to make sure everyone knows where you’re going and if you don’t have blinkers, just do what I do– say, “BEEP BEEP BEEP” very loudly and clearly until folks get out of your way. If you’re in line for something, plant your feet firmly and squarely to assert your dominance. Finally, keep an eye out for backpacks at tables. IF YOU SEE A BACKPACK OR EVEN A WATER BOTTLE AND COMPUTER CHARGER AT A TABLE, DON’T SIT THERE. That table is TAKEN. Someone is sitting there! People do sit alone, believe it or not. In fact, you shouldn’t be afraid to sit alone because it’s okay to take time for yourself. I sit alone all the time and it is peaceful. Nobody will judge you for sitting alone. If they do, they are stinky and you do not need to be friends with stinky people.
Now, we shall discuss coursework! Aaaahh!!! This is one of the things upperclasshumans get asked about the most by our beloved first years. It’s also one of the most difficult aspects of Kenyon life. Listen, high school might’ve been easy for you because of how smart you are, but here, everybody is smart just like you. They are not better than you, or worse than you. You are all smarties, which is why you are here. Your professors know you are smarties, so they are going to give you BIG WORK that make your brain do BIG STRETCH. A book a week is normal. My personal opinions about elitist, neurotypical education models aside, this place is going to kick your ass, stress you out and sometimes make you cry. But! It’s not a contest about who is the most stressed and who has the most work. That’s not cool. Self-care is cool. My advice? Think of yourself as a human first, a student second, and everything else third. This means NO extracurriculars until you’ve finished your coursework to the best of your abilities and you’ve prepared for class. Preparing for class doesn’t just mean doing your reading and showing up. It means writing down at least two smarty things for you to say in class the next day, both of which are rooted in the text you are studying. Don’t just pull vague, all-encompassing comments out of your butt. Back your shit up with the sources your professor has provided! All this being said, there will be days when you’re too overwhelmed and you just can’t get it done. That’s okay. That’s normal. Take a deep breath. I’ve been there, too. Actually, just this week I’ve already skipped a reading assignment to focus on more important things (namely, sleep, my mental health, showering, and food). Side note: to avoid over-scheduling yourself, take Professor Ivonne García’s advice. Don’t do what you did in high school! You don’t need to be the president of every club and class president and a writer for every campus publication. You’ve made it to college. Calm down and focus on what you care about the most.
Finally, I would like to talk to you about making friends. I’m not sure how qualified I am to give advice on this topic since I have social anxiety and new people scare me. BUT! I’ve still managed to meet some nice people on this campus. I even got them to like me so much that they actively choose to hang out with me! Wild! Here’s one of the most important facts about these people: not all of them are the same friends I made during my first few weeks/months on campus. When you first start meeting folks here, it’s probably safe to say that you’re putting on a bit of a show. You’re revealing only the best parts of yourself so that the people around you will think you’re #hip and #trendy. While that’s good advice for a job interview, it often doesn’t lead to long-lasting, sustainable friendships. The people who stick by you are the ones who’ve seen you at your most vulnerable. They’re the ones who know that you don’t actually have a favorite vine (guilty), or that it’s been so long since you’ve read Gatsby that you don’t really remember it anymore (guilty again. Fancy books aren’t a defining factor of your worth as a human being). These kinds of relationships take time and space to fully develop. Also, friendships tend to pop up when you’re not actively seeking them. I met my current suitemate and very close friend because he accidentally yelled in my direction on Middle Path one day (we absolutely did not know each other at the time and he startled me very much). Long story short, it’s all right if you don’t feel like you’ve found your ‘people’ yet. That takes more than 2-3 weeks. If folks seem like they’re surrounded by beloved fans and a rock-solid friend group, they’re actually just as nervous as you are. Don’t be too hard on yourself and try to pick friends with good hearts, not just friends with good taste in indie pop.
Okay. Advice post over. Thank you for listening. I am old. Get off my lawn.
Please excuse an actual ancient for butting in, but this column is all good advice. I hope all the fresh people read and follow it!