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Freshman year: Kindergarten in disguise?

Reflecting back onto the first half of the quarter, I’ve often thought that my all-frosh dorm is designed to be as welcoming and as comfortable as possible — just like kindergarten. In some sense, that is true. There are RAs, the PHE, the resident fellows, the RCC for the technologically challenged and even a SLErt for all of your philosophical and writing needs. Everything and everyone is here to take care of you, from placing you into random groups to make friends to organizing and hosting various activities in order to facilitate a thriving dorm community.

The colors in the dorms are bright — some of the walls are blindingly white — and I’ve rarely seen walls that are painted dark colors, probably to remove the possible associations of doom and gloom. The dorm walls are white, possibly to suggest that your future is for your taking. Or, white was simply the template paint available.

In addition to the stickers that they used to decorate the windows and walls with to make the place feel more homey, there’s a bucket of candy in the hallways to serve a similar purpose. I have found that sugar is marvelous for extending the concentration.

There’s homework help through VPTL tutoring, office hours, health clinics and dogs — it’s practically a little city all made for you. And best of all, there’s almost always food somewhere.

People are searching for friends in droves — there are even activities facilitated to help people acclimate. It is simply amazing how many people there are here to help with the acclimation to the new environment.

On the academics side, I would venture to say that it’s life as normal. It feels rather like a choice between swimming and drowning, although there are copious amounts of buoys and pool noodles littered all over the water surface.

On one hand, I have to wonder if easing into the transition is the best way of carrying out things. I barely remember kindergarten, but of what I remember, easing the kids into the rhythms of school life was the way to go. Most of the freshmen are of legal adult age, although I believe it is still necessary to ease into something new.

Or perhaps, it is best to just throw the freshmen into the deep end. Apparently language acquisition works best by placing oneself into an environment where only that language is spoken. One can adjust quickly and readily to the new environment — although with quite a bit of confusion and a steep learning curve.

What to you think? Should freshman year be compared to kindergarten, anyways? Or is the acclimation system any better than just immersing the newcomers into the environment?

 

Contact Angela Zhao at angezhao ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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