Letters to Freshmen: From the Dean that Knows Us Best

The next letter of advice comes from Dean Mary Spellman, our Dean of Students. As the Dean of Students, Dean Spellman has a unique perspective on life at Claremont McKenna College.  Between her close relationship with students and her current role in shaping our experience at CMC, Dean Spellman is in the best position to give us all some sound advice. Dear Freshmen:

It seems like just yesterday that you were arriving in Claremont!  I hope you are finding your footing and beginning to feel at home at CMC.  You have made a lot of decisions and met a lot of new people in the past month.  You have probably heard a lot of advice, some of which you have followed and some which you haven’t.  I want to give you a little more and hope that it is among the advice you will follow.

Ask for help and accept help when offered:  CMC is tough.  You got into CMC so we know you have what it takes to be successful here.

It is not going to be easy.  Inevitably you will struggle from time to time; it might be a paper or exam, a class, a roommate, problems at home, financial issues, etc.  CMCers often project an air of having it all together so it may feel like you are the only one struggling.  I promise you, everyone has their moments of struggle and doubt.  The good news is CMC is filled with talented and caring faculty and staff who want to see you succeed.  The College and the consortium provide a wealth of resources.   All you have to do is ask for help.  If you don’t know who to ask, come to the Dean of Students Office.  We are here to help you navigate CMC and support you through your time here.

One last piece of advice about help….accept it when it is offered.  When your faculty member emails you because you haven’t been in class or wants to meet with you to talk about a test, etc.  Respond to their email; don’t ignore them.  The problem isn’t going to go away if you ignore it and your professor is reaching out because they want to help you.   One of the more tragic things I see in my role as Dean of Students is the student who fails because they do not accept the many offers of help they are given.

Go to breakfast: Your Mom was right - breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  Plus, if you haven’t experienced the campus as it wakes up you are missing out; you would be surprised how amazing the campus is in the still quiet of the early morning.  The other benefit to getting up for breakfast is having the whole day ahead of you to study, exercise, spend time with friends, call your family, etc. Oh, and the Collins omelet bar is pretty tasty!

Go to the Ath: If you have been following these "Letters to Freshmen" you have already heard this advice but it is such good advice it cannot be said enough.  You are truly blessed to be at CMC with this special place and the amazing programs that are waiting for you there.  Few colleges offer the caliber and quantity of speakers and performers who come to the Ath.  And you get them for free.  Don’t forget to sign-up to sit at the head table.

Get to know the Center of Global Education:  I loved college and while I tried to take advantage of the rich resources provided by my alma mater I have two regrets – not going to hear Cesar Chavez speak when he was on campus (see “Go to the Ath” above) and not studying aboard.  While I don’t regret the things I did on-campus my junior year, I wish I had a global experience too.   CMC offers amazing off- campus and international opportunities including faculty lead trips, exchange programs, study abroad, sponsored internships, and the Washington DC and Silicon Valley semesters.  There is something for everyone.  You owe it to yourself to explore these options and take advantage of one.  To find out more visit the Center for Global Education located on the first floor of the Heggblade Center.

CMC is an amazing place and I hope you take advantage of all it has to offer.  I look forward to getting to know you and seeing the imprint you make on CMC.

Best wishes,

Dean Spellman


Want more "Letters to Freshmen?" Check out advice on roommate etiquette from two RAs, advice on how to keep your body happy when things get tough, advice on how to go with the flow and many others. Looking for different advice? Let us know what you are looking for in the comment section below.