October 1, 2012
At Hamilton, incoming freshmen do not select their courses until after they arrive on campus, just after orientation and a few days before the start of classes. A first impression of this policy generally yields frantic bafflement: How can we know what to take with a few days to decide? What if we don’t like our classes? How many courses can be left after the upperclassmen have had their pick?
The same anxious thoughts shot through my head the first week on the hill.
But rest assured, navigating course registration is not like falling into the Maelstrom, getting swept down into courses which yield no interest. In fact, I would say that the time waiting to register only helped me.
I spent the week preceding registration practically sleeping with the course catalogue, building and rebuilding schedules for myself. International Relations seemed interesting, but American Political Process was definitely a class I needed to take. Issues in Microeconomics had to be on the list. I really enjoyed physics in high school, but I heard psychology was popular. I needed a German course, but how well could I really speak? Oh and then there was….
My mind was indecisively occupied for a few days, but I was at the very least familiar with those classes which piqued my interest. Then came the meeting with my advisor.
He asked very directly, “What do you want from Hamilton?” What could be my eventual major? What do I see myself doing in four years? Eight? What do I expect to be the highlight of my Hamilton education? The web of classes spread before me—crisscrossing paths to eventual majors, theses, etc.
It was the first time I considered a long-term plan—I just arrived, and already I was considering how I wanted to graduate. Instead of blindly following pursuing on course until another interested me, I saw how each could unfold and build on others.
I walked into registration with a short-list and a newfound determination. In the past week, I had taken the first step toward just one possible future.
Majors: Government and Economics (intended)
Activities: Cross Country, Debate Society
Favorite Pastimes: Late-night Diner breakfast, reading the paper in KJ through the morning, wandering the Root Glen and sipping a latte from Cafe Opus.
Hometown: Newfane, Vt.
High School: Concord Academy