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Reflections from a First-Year

by Madison Kebler '11

Madison Kebler photo

"I think that new students should recognize that college is a new experience entirely and should welcome a chance to present themselves in a different way."
- Madison Kebler ’11

It’s hard to believe that I have completed my first semester of college. I remember so vividly my high school experience, especially my anxiety during senior year about applying to colleges. If I had been asked one year ago where I wanted to go to college, I never would have been able to imagine being a student at Randolph College. Looking back now, I realize that Randolph represents everything that I had been searching for in a college: a small school environment, a location “up north” compared to Florida, a private school devoted to academics, and a true “community” feel. After receiving one of the highest scholarships, I knew that it would be very difficult for me to turn down the admissions offer, but fortunately, I had already fallen in love with the campus. Nevertheless, I wondered if I was making the right decision to move several states away from home, and I worried about how well I would handle my transition to a college environment.

I was especially nervous because I did not know what to expect from my classes, my roommate, the other first-years at the school, and the upperclasswomen who passionately voiced their opinions against the changes at the school. I also worried about my ability to handle separation from my family as we have always been very close. I knew that all first-year college students must go through this transition experience, but I also knew that it still probably wasn’t going to be easy. Fortunately, Randolph does an exceptional job of facilitating the difficult transition with an extended Orientation week. Many of my friends at other colleges had only one or two days to move in and register for classes before the academic year began. Although my closest friends are not necessarily those people that I met in my Orientation group, we all seem to have an unspoken bond from having gone through the same initial transition together. My experience in my Orientation group was so positive that I would really like to apply to become an OL [Orientation Leader] for the first-years in the upcoming year.

Before I came to Randolph, I was worried about leaving my friends from home because I have been best friends with some of them since early childhood. I never expected to almost instantaneously find a best friend who also happened to be my roommate. Our friendship definitely made my transition much easier because I had the all-important someone to sit with at the mandatory Orientation activities. I may have made fewer friends because I had established such a strong friendship initially, but I know that I was extremely lucky to have this friendship during my transition to college, and looking back now, I would know not to be as worried or stressed about making friends.

I knew coming into college that I have a tendency to get involved in too many things and spread myself too thin, and I made a goal to be realistic about the amount of commitments for my free time during that first semester. Ironically, I never intended or expected to be a part of the two main activities that I have most enjoyed during this semester. I was basically discovered by the tennis coach when I was hitting on the court, and he begged me to be on the team. Now, I cannot imagine my college experience without being a student-athlete; playing on the tennis team helped me form friendships with other tennis players and kept me busier and healthier than I would have been otherwise. I know that I will continue to play on the tennis team throughout my time at Randolph. I also decided to audition to see if I could possibly join Chorale, and I was selected to be in Touch of Harmony without even knowing about that group. Now, I am singing, which is something that I absolutely love to do, with a group of talented singers who love to sing as much as I do. I think that I was lucky to find these two activities, which have made my entire transition much easier and my college experience much more exciting and diverse in general.

I think that all in all, I have transitioned very well to Randolph College. I have no way of predicting what experiences the next semester will hold, but I am confident that I made the right decision in choosing to come to this school. There have been times that I missed my family and friends from home, but I am so grateful for all of the opportunities here. If I could go back to the beginning of first semester, I would not worry as much about leaving high school behind, as college is just an entirely different experience. There are those who say that high school experiences are the best times of your life, but I have to disagree. Although classes will not always be easy, and I will frequently be stressed, I am looking forward to every minute of the next three years.

Now that I am near the end my first year of college, I think that I am qualified to offer some advice to incoming students. I would tell them not to worry too much about making friends or trying to establish the same relationships that existed in high school, because very few people come to college with established friendships at the school already in place; everyone is looking to meet new friends. I think that new students should recognize that college is a new experience entirely and should welcome a chance to present themselves in a different way.

In general, my transition into Randolph College has been extraordinarily positive and has surpassed even my best expectations, which has confirmed that, despite some of the current negativity and problems, this is the school where I can make a difference and that will help to change me for the better.