Hi, I’m Melanie Decelles, a new
first year student at Shimer College. I’m 23 and my favorite color in the world
I wound up at Shimer after 4 years at a two year college and a favorite teacher who teaches almost exclusively Great Books course. This combination led to me taking 6 separate Great Books or Great Books-emphasis classes and doing better in them then I had in any other class I’d taken in my life.
When the transfer counselor at my school told me there was an entire school run the way Professor Richardson’s classes were taught, I knew I had to go there.
Taking as long as I did to figure myself out my seem like a waste of time, but if it hadn’t been for that time spent I might never have found Shimer or if I had I never would have thought I’d be able to succeed there.
All that aside as a new Shimer student I wanted to write about a phenomenon I’d noticed on campus when I first started:
The Waving Phenomenon
One notable thing that you might notice when you first start going to Shimer is that everyone knows each other. Since it’s such a small school that makes sense but it’s more than just the size of the school. If any current Shimer student sees you on the Shimer floor they will remember. Later if they see you anywhere else, walking to Starbucks, on the way to lunch, they will wave at you.
People you never met will always make eye contact and say hi.
If they see you eating alone at lunch they might come up and eat with you out of the blue. Because when you joined the Shimer school you also joined their community. They all want to make sure you adjust well.
This also extends to every time you might be waiting in a hallway or for the elevator people that you may or may not know will ask you how classes are going and give you tips on things you’re struggling with.
From the moment you have orientation for the next 3-4 years of your college career you live temporarily in a very small town that knows you and wants you to succeed.
Should you get used to the waving phenomenon and all that it encompasses there is also the matter of your Shimer email account. In your student email you will receive emails about everything.
The Shimer email system works like a community bulletin board, you will hear about parties and bikes for sale, you’ll be told about stolen lunches and available volunteer work. Checking your email will put you right in the middle of what is happening on campus. Since I’m from Chicago and have always gone to very large schools this level of intimacy and immediate acceptance scared me a little at first.
Who on Earth would be so nice to me from the get go?
The answer is my community. A community that is focused on maintaining the very open quality that has taken shape at this school. While the motives might have made me suspicious at first, I gotta say I get it now. The entire atmosphere at Shimer is one that I really love and will definitely work hard to maintain. So when the next year of Shimer students starts and I am no longer a first year I will wave to new strangers, I will ask them about their classes, I will let them know that they have joined a small community, and we are very happy to have them.