By CHAD CARTER – STAFF WRITER
School has begun again, and a new class of seniors begins to realize they are nearly finished with their education on Centre’s campus. For many seniors, this means that a deadly disease will soon strike: senioritis. But while that epidemic sweeps campus, another will surely follow. Nostalgia has already started to take root in this senior class.
I interviewed four seniors, discussing their personal Centre experience, and a clear, enduring love for Mother Centre was the common theme.
Politics major Kit Thomas came to Centre for reasons shared by many: a high quality education for a great price. Many other students also came to Centre for the small school aspect. “I knew I could get involved right away,” Math major Tristan Conroy said. “And that’s still very much true, as long as you apply yourself.”
For Biology major Barrie Schmitt, Centre offered a similar appeal, as she didn’t want to “get lost and be just a number in class.” She stressed the personal relationships Centre students enjoy with their professors. “My expectations have been exceeded. Your professors want to invest in you academically and they want to help you grow as much as you can.”
“Professors will really go above and beyond their calling to make sure students are doing okay,” Conroy said.
Computer Science major Jess Pritchett has been happy with the small school aspect as well. “Closeness with people is the thing that stands out the most,” Pritchett said.
However wonderful their time here has been, every senior is bound to have some things they wish would change. One sentiment was that Centre could do more to prepare students for
the “real world” after college. “Centre coddles you,” Thomas said. “No rent, no utilities – it’s not the real world.”
She expressed that she would like to see off-campus housing as a more readily available experience for students who want to learn various skills of living truly on their own.
Thomas maintained that for “real world” experience, study abroad was invaluable.
While some students love the small town charm, others like Pritchett sometimes wishes Centre had a different location. “Sometimes you just get cabin fever,” Pritchett said. “Especially after going to big cities the last few years.”
Conroy expressed a desire for more collaboration between departments. “I’m a Math major. I know they had a CentreTerm class, Math and Glass. To me, that’s what liberal arts is: learning about things that come together, not just saying, ‘You’re a math major, you study math.’ I think the Centre Term class is cool, but why can’t these be full semester classes? Why are the classes so much like other schools? You could put any two subjects together, and there should be overlap. That would make us so much different from every other school.”
There are also quite a few things these seniors hope doesn’t change. Schmitt loves Centre’s “culture of being accepting and happy to see people.” Having gone abroad, she appreciates that unlike in Europe, at Centre “being friendly is the cultural norm.”
Schmitt elaborated, “I have been exposed to a lot of diversity: socio-economic, religious, social, all different kinds,” Schmitt said. “I was able to get outside of myself and decide ‘Is this what I believe?’”
As they look forward, these seniors have many aspirations for how they want to leave Centre. “It’s going to be important to end things right and on good terms with people,” Pritchett said.
“I want to continue in newfound friendships and keep old friendships. To give them more time and effort to keep them for years to come,” Thomas said.
“The relationships I’ve built here, I never want to close that door,” Conroy said. “Those relationships have helped define who I am.”
But for all the reminiscing, there was still the momentum of graduating. Schmitt expressed her desire to “soak up every last minute of college,” but maintained that she wouldn’t wish for more time. “If there were a fifth year I don’t think I would be happy with it. Centre has done a good job with getting us ready to leave.”
“I’m conflicted,” Pritchett said, “because it’s a four-year program for a reason and it’s time to move on, but it’s also very utopian here, it’s hard to leave.”
It sounds like the seniors have accepted that it’s nearly time for them to graduate. Before they’re gone, however, I asked them to share a few words of wisdom for incoming first-years:
“Work as hard as you possibly can in your first and second semester and continue on,” Thomas said. “Get involved in anything you can, anything you’re interested in. Experience as much as you can because the opportunity for this does not ever come again.”
“Throw yourself into college, find what you love,” Schmitt said. “Take a more holistic view. It’s easy to get caught up in school; it’s easy to lose sight of what’s important.”
“Get to know your professors,” Conroy said. “Get to know them as actual people. 99 percent of the time you will find some sort of common interest. Once you find that common interest and that bond, it just makes it so much fun. It changes it from ‘I have to work my butt off to impress this person’ to ‘we’re learning together.’”
“First off, don’t wear lanyards, as tempting as it is,” Prtichett said. “But really, try not to limit yourself by being too exclusive or trying to fit into a certain group too fast. Try things you wouldn’t try, and come out of college with some good stories.”
All in all, the seniors’ departure will be celebrated and dreaded and tears of both joy and sadness will be shed as May draws nearer and nearer. The best we can say, seniors, is we’re glad you came, and we hate to see you leave. Here’s to you, and a fantastic year.