“No one is alone. I’m here for you.” Earlier this year, I saw this quote on a chalkboard on the Academic Quad. No truer words have ever said about the Denison community. Denison really is here for you, whether that comes in the form of a friend running to greet you with hello, a professor who fills a classroom with laughter, an RA who sits up late to listen to your problems, or a roommate who watches Finding Nemo with you when you’re sick in the depths of winter. As President Weinberg always says, this is a unique and special community, and every day I wake up grateful to be a part of it.
Great advice is born of experience, insight, and a lot of heart.
The best advice comes to you, just when you need it. Other times, it’s something you’ve learned along the way that you can share with someone else.
The smartest advice I ever heard at Denison is how important it is to learn how to say no. On a typical Tuesday night, there is probably a well-know speaker coming to campus, a sporting event or two, three different campus organizations that are holding events, friends asking to go get dinner, etc. Sometimes it's hard to prioritize work and relaxation amidst all of these options. Some of my friends in my first year at Denison taught me that it's completely okay to say no when you just need a break or when you have a big test or paper coming up. They taught me that it's impossible to try to do everything on campus, so just prioritize well and do what matters.
“You're going to be useful whatever you do.” A friend told me this when trying to make decisions about extracurricular activities and majors, and I found peace and insight in this. Invest yourself and become passionate about whatever you do, and you can't go wrong!
The best advice I received in my time at Denison came from a dear mentor and friend. She reminded me, “You don't need a plan, just be present.”
Denison students and professors foster an environment where the inquisitive mind prospers. Be curious, gain knowledge. Never be afraid to ask questions. You will have a chance to make new friends from around the world, do it.
Last year during August Orientation, I was asked to speak on behalf of the Academic Support & Enrichment Center. I was told the students attending the seminar would be eligible for academic accommodations. I was to discuss my interactions with the office and maybe give a little bit of advice. After hours of trying to figure out exactly what to say, I had little more than a paragraph.
When the moment came, I remember sitting in Herrick Hall, staring at squiggles written down on my piece of paper. Then I heard, “And now one of our students is going to tell us about his experience with the Academic Support & Enrichment Center.” In that split second, I decided to disregard the paragraph written and just go for it. My words to those 60 first-year students were as follows:
Hi, my name is Adam Rice. I am from Kalamazoo, Michigan; a sophomore here at Denison; studio art major; and I am dyslexic. Before I came to college, my psychologist told me I could never learn a foreign language. Now, me being stubborn, after taking two years of Spanish in high school, I decided to prove him wrong. In fact I was the only one, with just two years of the language under my belt, to be placed in the 8:30 a.m. segment of Spanish 112. In my first semester at Denison I was able keep my head above water by working with the professor and friends.
However, halfway through my second semester I needed help. Even with the support of my professor and friends, I was still working three times as hard compared to my peers and seeing little result. So I contacted the office of Academic Support and Enrichment to ask for advice. Through the assistance of Heather, I signed up for tutoring and met again with my professor. After much aid, I was able to walk away from Spanish 211 unscathed.
Now, it would be all too easy to say the moral of that story is, don’t wait until you’re in hot water to get help, and that’s true, but the real message I want you to get from this is, in college and in life you’re going to have to make decisions. Each of these decisions will open and close new doors. Some of these doors will lead to great successes along with the feeling of accomplishing something you didn’t think you could do in a million years. And that’s one of the best feelings in the world. And then you will fail. And you need to know that is okay, because for each one of your failures, those shortcomings, you will learn twice as much than from those few successes.
And as long as you take those failures and learn from them, then you will not only have a great four years here at Denison, but a successful life. Buena suerte!
My advice to any current or future Denison student is to get involved in the community off campus in Granville or any of the surrounding areas. Through my time as a volunteer Young Life leader at Granville high school (Young life is a national Christian mentorship program), a volunteer assistant track coach at Granville, a big sister in the Big Brothers, Big Sisters program at an elementary school in Newark, and a member of a local church, I have learned just how valuable it is to belong to people in addition to my peers on The Hill.
Denison is a wonderful school and I can't imagine myself anywhere else, but I think I gain so much perspective on my experience and relationships there when I am able to escape off campus for a short amount of time every week. The people of Granville are wonderful—over my last three years at Denison, I think it is safe to say that I have been over to a local's home at least once a week for dinner or to do laundry. I also get to stop and chat with adults, children, and animals that I encounter on my way to Whit's or Village Coffee Co. or the local farmers market. Not only do I belong at Denison, but I feel like I am a member of the greater community of Granville. I absolutely love that.
I am an Admission Office tour guide, so I’m frequently asked why I chose Denison. It is incredibly difficult to condense the wonders of my Denison experience, thus far, into a brief response on tour. After being asked this question countless times, I’ve formulated my final answer—I chose Denison because of the people here and the university’s liberal arts identity.
There is something about the Denison students, faculty, staff and alumni that make Denison the exceptional community it is. Everyone here is welcoming and genuinely interested in each other’s well being. Katherine, who works in the dining hall, is everyone’s Denison Mom—she makes a point to learn students’ names and ask about their day. This friendliness extends to students, too. We have a tradition called “the Denison Hello,” where students greet one another in passing, even if they don’t know each other. I think this cross-campus kindness is a wonderful thing. When I set foot on campus as a prospective student, I just knew I wanted to become part of the Denison community.
I’ve had the great pleasure of speaking with several Denison alums, all of whom attribute their professional success to their undergraduate education. I think it is really interesting to compare alums’ Denison major with their current profession—a lot of times, they don’t correlate like you would expect. This trend speaks to the power of a liberal arts education. Denison provides its students with a set of intangible skills that can be applied to any profession. No matter what career (or careers) you choose to pursue, your Denison education will be useful every step of the way.
If you have the chance, attend a pre-orientation program! I went on the Denison Service Orientation (DSO), and I honestly think it was the best decision that I’ve made at Denison. I met many of my close friends on DSO and learned so much about Denison before most of the first-year students even arrived.
By the time August Orientation rolled around, I already had found my niche at Denison and was completely comfortable with college life. There are several pre-orientation programs with different focuses, so I would encourage you to take a look at each of them and consider applying for one that interests you. It will make your transition to college so much easier, and you’ll have tons of fun along the way!
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