Choosing What’s Right: 13 To-Dos of a Colgate Experience

Beverly Low

The last few weeks of the spring semester are hectic for deans, as well as students. I had every intention of writing up a provocative, enlightening slice of commentary for this edition of The Maroon-News. Sadly, I found myself trapped in a cave of writer’s block, surrounded by endless household chores and a dash of spring fever. I am thus reprising the list of suggestions I shared with each of the current Colgate classes on their first night of new student orientation. Sit back, enjoy the ride down memory lane and see which of these items you’ve checked off your Colgate “to do” list…

13. Wave to every maroon van that drives by.This is considered one of the most beautiful college campuses in the United States. Our Buildings & Grounds crew works diligently to ensure a safe, clean and well-landscaped place for us to work and live. And their snow removal skills are outstanding. Show them much appreciation.

12. Give five. Whether it’s five minutes a day, five hours a month or five days a year, find a way to volunteer your time. There are a lot of people, places and organizations that need your help. And it feels good.

11. Speak up.Contribute in the classroom – it adds value to your experience. Voice your perspective. Confront minor problems before they get blown out of proportion. Look for creative solutions. Be a leader in the residence hall, in the classroom and on the playing field. Step up. Advocate for yourself.

10. Get a job.Even if you don’t need the money. Work on campus or in the Village of Hamilton for about 10 hours a week. It will add structure to your day and put you in contact with some excellent people that you might not otherwise meet.

9. Vote.Whenever you have the chance to vote for something or someone: do it. It doesn’t matter if it’s an election for your Residence Hall Council, your hometown mayor, your Colgate Class Council, your state representative or the President of the United States. Cast your ballot. It is both a privilege and a right and your voice does indeed matter. You will have the chance to register to vote on Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning.

8. Is today your special day? HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

7. Recycle.Buy an extra wastebasket or grab a cardboard box for your cans, bottles and paper. Re-use the plastic bags from the Bookstore or grocery store. Get yourself a nice water bottle rather than purchasing a case of individual spring waters.

6. Go out on a date.  Not a rendezvous in the residence hall, a real date. And do not ask the person out via e-mail, Facebook, BBM or text. Ask someone out in person or at the very least over the telephone. Make a dinner reservation. Buy flowers.

Make it special.

5. Cross some boundaries.Be curious. Ask lots of questions. Push yourself beyond your comfort zone. Seek another perspective. Challenge yourself. Change your mind now and then. It’s not painful and it may actually feel pretty good.

4. Tell the truth.Be honest with your professors, your roommates and yourself. Do your own work. Take responsibility for your actions and hold yourself accountable. We expect you to make a mistake now and then. We also expect you to learn from them. You are people in progress and you’re here for an education. Be truthful and move forward.

3. Take a hike. Walk from one end of campus to the other. Explore the running and ski trails at the top of campus. Take a stroll through the Village of Hamilton. Leave your car parked and save your gas money for a good road trip for October break.

2. Show up.Go to class regularly and participate actively. Sit towards the front. Establish yourself with the professor. Go to office hours. Be on time. Fulfill your obligations. Also, show up for your friends. If someone is struggling, encourage him or her to get some assistance. Be a buddy. Take care of each other. It is really very smart to ask for help when you need it.

1. Learn.Now that sounds pretty basic. The best teachers that you will have at Colgate will be your own experiences. Push yourself a little further each day. To paraphrase a quote by Dumbledore in “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” “Our most difficult decisions are often choosing between what is right and what is easy.” Easy is lazy and boring. I hope that you will choose what is right.