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From Harvard to home

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With the beginning of the new school year now in full swing, families are settling back into the rhythm of waking up early, rushing out the door and carting kids to soccer practice, football games and dance classes every night of the week. College students are back on their campuses, readjusting to late nights and trying to put off doing the growing cascade of laundry in the corner that, for the last few months, Mom has graciously done.

As for myself, after three months at home, I was more than ready to return to Harvard. I was excited to be living with new friends in a new house, and I was ready to take on new challenges with a year of experience under my belt.

After arriving in Boston and moving into my new dorm room, I posted some pictures on Facebook. A few hours later, my great-grandmother (yes my GREAT-grandmother) commented on them saying, “Glad to see you are back in the groove!” Now, that got me thinking. First of all, I have a hip grandma, and second, am I really back in the same “groove?”

In some ways I feet like I never left campus. But I also feel like a freshman again, in the sense that I’m starting something new. That is truly an advantage in college, and more generally, in life. Ever year, every week and every day, we can start something new. We can change the way we think, act and go about our daily lives. Instead of sticking with the same activities and clubs of which I was a part last semester, I branched out and auditioned for the dance team and am writing for a campus magazine. There are so many opportunities here at Harvard, and I don’t want to miss out.

Academically, as a sophomore, I was prepared to settle back into the mediocre portion of the student body, and fully expected to feel constantly behind. However, after my first week of lab for my Life Sciences 2 course, I walked out of the fourth floor classroom, I could not believe it. For the first time, I had felt more experienced than the majority of my class and was confidently sharing my knowledge with my lab partners during our dogfish shark dissection. Now, most of these students had taken AP Biology and AP Chemistry and about every AP class in the book. But, thanks to Michael Fredericks, I knew that “dorsal” meant back, and I wasn’t afraid to use a scalpel. Granted, my classes are still just as difficult, and I am sure there are greater challenges yet to come, but confidence and experience are powerful tools!

Settling back into your groove can be great. Everyone loves familiarity, but sometimes, though it may be harder, making a new groove can be even better. So do something new today. Just because. Just because you can. During several of her classes at Princeton High School, Elaine McVety often quoted Ralph Waldo Emerson (a Harvard graduate): “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds ...”

Don’t be small-minded; do something inconsistent today!

Haley Adams, a Princeton High School graduate, is a sophomore at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass. She can be reached at haleyadams@college.harvard.edu.

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