We are smackdab in the middle of the Fall semester, a place of glorious transformation. The leaves are brilliant, just as you are, and, like the leaves, you may be falling to earth after several weeks of new-semester exuberance.
And that’s okay. Not every fall is the fall from Eden or the Pont Royal. Your fall, like the fall of leaves around you, has its place and its purpose.
As our old hands know and our first-years will soon find out, you are smackdab in the middle of growing pains, pains that signal change, and change can be—and in in this case emphatically is—for the better. You are becoming stronger and more resilient, and, by the end of the academic year, you will bud beautifully and flower effulgently, boasting thicker, more ramified branches than you’ve ever had.
(The foregoing trades in metaphor, and like all metaphors, this particular metaphor can be further specified in analogical terms. To wit, if you are a tree, to what correspond the buds? The flowers? The thick and ramified branches? A few minutes of meditation might be in order.)
Growth. As we continue to nip and tuck the Honors Program curriculum, that has emerged as our watchword. We are revamping and requiring HONR 301 (Life After SNC) in a way that coordinates with Honors Orientation and HONR 150 (Life At SNC), our new freshman seminar. Vocation and discernment—figuring out what to do with your life and, a fortiori, your time at SNC—will dominate the conversation in HONR 150, building a thematic bridge between Honors Orientation and HONR 301, which itself will metamorphize to engage vocational questions of a higher order.
In short, by the end of your sophomore year, you will have not just a plan and a portfolio to implement that plan, but you will know how to form a plan and how to create the portfolio for it. That is our Honors promise to you: you will not only learn things, but you’ll learn how to learn all the things. We cannot keep you from falling down, but we can teach you how to pick yourself up and keep growing.
For those of you who are not first-years (you know who you are…or do you?), you will keep growing through continued access to HONR 301, Advanced Core Honors courses designed specifically for our students (one in J-term and three this Spring!), and more Global Seminars (to Scotland in June). You can look forward to a new course under development, HONR 450, a Senior Seminar designed to mark the transition from SNC to The Great Beyond. The course will be piloted for a select group of seniors this Spring, culminating in our annual tradition of the Honors Senior Wine Reflection, where we will raise glasses to our graduates and wish them good luck and godspeed as they walk out into the summer.
Yes, winter is coming. But the moments of growth and renewal, for the Honors Program and its students, will keep us warm.