Re-Admission, Part II

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Last month, the Newsroom included the first part of a two part series on re-admission to Simon’s Rock. This month, we continue the story below. Missed the first part? Read it now.

Until recently, two-thirds of Simon’s Rock students would transfer after they completed their AA degree. Almost all had a plan, an image of what their next step would look and feel like. And for many, that plan actualized. The move made sense. But, for a growing number of Simon’s Rock students, transferring will have an opposite than anticipated effect: they’ll miss what they had before they left. This realization will come at different moments for different students.

If you talk long enough with any re-admit, themes emerge. They were surprised by the lack of opportunities to form relationships with faculty, that the academic experience lacked rigor and depth, and that an intellectual community was difficult to find.  In many ways they missed what they found when they first came to Simon’s Rock.

“At Wellesley, the professors were glorified,” Nikki remembers. “It was this really big deal if you had lunch with a professor. I just remember thinking, ‘I had lunch all the time with my professors at Simon’s Rock;’ some would even take us out for breakfast!”

Darcy began to sense that the University of Maryland might not be for her when she tried to meet with a professor during office hours. She was interested in learning more about the course material. But, he told her, office hours were for people who didn’t understand the material, not for someone who wanted to learn more. She most missed the classroom discussions and intellectual back-and-forth. “Kids in my classes seemed apathetic about the whole learning experience. Not even out of frustration because they wanted to be more actively involved in their education—in fact, they thought classes were too hard and there was too much work.”

Jessica, who had transferred to NYU’s Steiner School on a path to a performance art career, missed, in a way, the liberal arts approach to education. Once determined to be a musician, now her area of concentration is in political science and music. “I missed difficult classroom discussions. I missed the amazing literature that Simon's Rock professors assign, and exploring topics in a seminar fashion.”

Back in Boston, Nikki was feeling like “my academic career was being retarded.” At Wellesley they cap student course loads to four courses a semester. “It was way too easy and I really wanted to be challenged again.”

On the other hand, Kori valued her academic experience at Mount Holyoke, but missed a community and close relationships with faculty and administrators. “I might have been the only person that transferred out of Mount Holyoke despite having a stellar academic experience. But socially, it was difficult. I didn’t have an advisor…and by the end of the first year I also realized I hadn’t made any connection with my professors.”

The moment they knew they had to come back

It was registration day at Wellesley when Nikki finally withdrew and sent in the re-admission form. Tom finished a film project, but re-applied after he kept dreaming about campus. Eden was convinced after she came back to campus for a visit and realized she couldn’t leave. Darcy decided it was time when she showed up to her psychology class and it had as many students as Simon’s Rock entire campus.

Kori waited before she came back to Simon’s Rock. Instead, she took a gap year of sorts and interned in the U.S. Senate. Then she went to work as the press assistant and field organizer for the Bill Richardson presidential campaign in New Hampshire. After that, she moved to Washington, D.C. and interned at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and then worked as the assistant director at a networking organization connecting young people with foreign policy experiences. And then, “I figured it was probably time for me to finish my BA,” she smiles. “There was so much opportunity at Simon’s Rock, in terms of interpersonal connections. I finally felt like I had enough empirical knowledge to synthesize and analyze information and my experience to craft a great senior thesis.”

Like everyone that leaves with a definite plan, it can be hard to come back. Nikki says, “Sure, I wondered what people would think and if there would be a stigma,” but really, she says, “everyone is so welcoming and so glad to have you back on campus. Once you’re back, you’re in.” Eden agrees. “Everyone felt like a closer friend to me than before.”

Nikki says, “It’s funny, some people think they saw me here last semester.” She points out that she thinks that’s because regardless of whether you transfer out, study abroad, or work out an internship, “most students at Simon’s Rock—even those who moderate to the BA program—spend their junior year off campus.” So as it happens, there isn’t much of a stigma after all. And even that’d be hard to imagine, Nikki says, because “everyone wants you here if you want to be here.” The best part of coming back, she says, is that “we all just picked up where we left off, having a great time, studying hard, and collectively grimacing about writing our senior thesis.”

[Next month visit the Newsroom to check in on our four part feature series highlighting this year’s senior theses]

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