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Friday, June 29, 2007

Post-Tribune
Merrillville, Indiana

Educated Advice Columnist
Gerald M. Bradshaw

Student involvement is key to happy life on campus



As an adult it is always hard for me to understand why perfectly smart kids admitted to the very best colleges and universities fear that first experience on campus. They talk intelligently, scored off the board on the admissions tests and are tops in their high school class.

Why, then, do they freak out at being left for the first time own their own?

Here is one way to avoid the freshman jitters. And have fun doing it. I take as my guide the helpful experiences of a perfectly normal freshman at Harvard who wrote about her experience in an alumni newsletter. Let's call her Carol.

Carol's first weeks at Harvard were packed. Placement tests, proctor meetings, dorm socials, "loosing her cell phone" and finding it she says, and picking classes and "feeling lost, overwhelmed, and homesick."

These comments pretty much summarizes the experiences most freshman have during their first weeks on campus.

To add to her stress she ran around frantically auditioning for different singing groups. She was accepted to several and now faced the "agonizing" decision. But as fate and good fortune would have it something happened that made her selection obvious and easy. It was called a Sing-in.

Still paraphrasing her story, one Sunday night, two students knocked on her door. After blindfolding her and guiding her down four flights of stairs from her room, they lead her outside and removed her blindfold. In front of h er were sixty other students holding candles and singing Claude Goudimel's magnificent "O Combien est Plaisant." They then waked to a reception for more singing.

Carol returned to her dorm that night, euphoric: "I knew I would join the Harvard-Radcliffe Collegium Musicum."

Sing-in was just a glimpse of what makes Collegium extraordinary for her. She met a wonderful group of friends, and eventually decided to live with tow of them her sophomore year. She became involve with the Collegium Executive Committee and now serves as Sales Manager for their CDs and other Collegium merchandise. She auditioned for and joined the Chamber Singers, a twelve person subset of Collegium.

The point is that it is easy to get lost at college in the whirlwind of overwhelming workloads and intimidating, brilliant colleagues not to mention the universal difficulties of transiting to college life.

To any incoming freshman Carol has this sound advice: find something you love doing and wholeheartedly devote yourself to it. Immersing herself so completely in Collegium has provided relief from the stress of academic work, insights into the field of music administration and a possible career path. Most of all she met a wonderful group of friends. "Thank you," she says, "for helping me find my place at Harvard."

Contact Gerald Bradshaw, The US States Top college consultant. One-on-one college consulting. Get help with the college application essay. Make you dream of being admitted into Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Columbia, Cornell, Brown, Dartmouth and the University of Pennsylvania a reality.

Toll Free: 866-687-8129
gerald_bradshaw@post.harvard.edu

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