August 31, 2011 by Michael Vereb
William and Mary classes did not start until the 24th of August but my learning started five days earlier when new students came to the College for Orientation. I got to work with new students during Orientation and this year I was assigned to work with transfers.
One of the first things I learned from the transfer students was about how to approach college. The Orientation Aids (OA’s) hand out class pins to all new students with their graduation year on it. I’m VERY concerned about when I graduate, maybe even too concerned. I put pressure on myself to do everything perfectly, the first time. Many of the transfers, when we asked which year pin they wanted, responded with “ehh, maybe give me a ’13 and a ’14.” It was so nice to see people that were coming here with the idea that things will work out. I appreciated that calmness. There are real factors that make a timely graduation necessary: money, career path, etc. There are also, however, other factors such as “that’s what you’re supposed to do.” I don’t think we should approach college as a burden with this huge pressure to do what everyone else is doing. The transfers don’t!
As I was spending time with different transfer students this week I also ran into a few people that have been on my tours this summer. This was the first time that has happened and when I saw one of the guys from a tour I immediately got nervous. I was nervous because I talk a big game on my tours. William & Mary is an AWESOME place and my time here has been phenomenal. I felt a bit on edge that I may have talked it up too much when I saw someone that had the chance to see if what I said was actually true. I talk about how close the community is, how easy it is to meet with professors, and how welcoming we are. Those things are easy buzz words to throw out in tours, but harder things to see and feel in reality. I was nervous that the reality of our community might not be felt by those students I had talked to on tours. It’s so cool to see that it IS real. Not just for me, but for brand new incoming students. It’s something you feel even within the first week of your arrival. I love the sincerity we have in walking our talk here at the College!
My transfer group saw that same community in different ways. After our diversity session we sat down and talked about what the community means to us. One woman in our group is an African-American mother from Hampton. She hasn’t received support from those around her in terms of her decision to go to school: “Why do you want to go THERE?”, “Can’t you go closer? To another school with more people like you?”, “What about your kids?” This woman felt more support from two other mothers that she met in this first week at William & Mary than she does from those at home. I was so pleased to see that this community is a supportive place.
Another one of the transfers I worked with quit his job so he could come back to school…at age 44! “Do you know what kind of job I can get with an Africana Studies major? Neither do I!” It’s been really easy for me to look at each class as something I need to do in order to graduate instead of an opportunity to learn. This transfer student sees each class as a chance to gain more knowledge-the only thing he’s really looking for. Too often my goal in college is my degree. I’ll work this year on being more like this new student, going to class for the education.
A final thing I’ve found this week at Orientation is just how cool a place William & Mary is. In my transfer group there were people commuting from Virginia Beach, Richmond AND D.C.! That means they might travel between one and three hours every day they come to campus. It’s wild to hear about these sacrifices- long travel, quitting jobs, etc. It is validating to see that the school we attend is one worth all of that.
August 11, 2011 by Michael Vereb
This summer has been a learning one for me here at the Admission Office. I’ve gotten to glimpse inside the admissions process and see all that goes into creating each incoming class at the College. More directly, I’ve been an interviewer for rising seniors like you! Being a student, and thus having no direct involvement in your actual selection, I can’t talk with any authority on “The Check-list” of things you need to get into William and Mary (in fact, W&M’s holistic approach to admissions means that even the Deans are not able to do that!). What I can do, however, is talk to you about talking to me. Here’s some tips for how to present yourself well when coming for the interview.
It’s important to know when you come to interview here that you are indeed talking to a student. I’m your advocate, not your adversary. I can’t tell you to not worry and then expect it to happen, but that’s what I want. I want to have a conversation with you- to hash out what it is that makes you tick, what you’re passionate about, where your motivations lie.
Before you come to the interview I would recommend that you look at yourself, what you do, and why you do it. When we interview multiple students a day, they can string together…it’s up to you to prevent that. Evaluate yourself and find where you stand out. What are you doing that exceeds the expected responsibilities of your groups? How are you creating community? Helping others? Learning?
One of my favorite questions to ask earns that distinguished title because it is so relevant to me. You and I share something: we have one year left at our respective schools. I ask everyone person I interview what they want to do to get the most out of their senior year and then what kind of legacy they want to leave behind. This question is helpful for me in finding what you care about and want to do in the future but I ask it mostly for you. When I ask this question of myself I can evaluate ways to be intentional about my actions this year. If you’ve never thought about that I want the interview to be an opportunity for you to really evaluate yourself and your upcoming year. I really want to hear about you when we interview so, in fear of getting a wave of responses like mine, I’m not going to fill you in on the legacy I want to leave here. I’ll be happy to answer though if you ask when we’re through talking.
The people I’m most proud to call my classmates are ones that look at the requirements for their role or group and then exceed them. They jump at opportunities to help, to serve, to experience new things. They are intelligent, really intelligent, and bring unique contributions to classroom and dining hall discussions alike. How do you see yourself doing those things? Think about it, and then come visit me! I look forward to meeting you.
June 23, 2011 by Michael Vereb
Growing up I had my own room starting when I was ten. Every night I would go quietly to sleep, unhindered by snores and the rustling of a roommate. I liked this.
Coming to the College meant that I no longer slept in a room by myself. Moving in with friends my sophomore year brought with it 70-decibel snores and regular rustling, but also something I really love: pillow talk. My roommates and I will let conversation steal our sleep as we stay up talking about everything and anything. Sometimes we’ll “go to bed” a couple hours early just so we can have more time to talk. These discussions have been some of the most defining moments I’ve had at the College. They’re a time to get real answers from real friends, a time to get called out when you’re in the wrong, a time to evaluate relationships. I can look back on many decisions I’ve made since coming to the College and can trace them back to pillow talk with my roommates. I love and cherish the talking, not so much the snoring.
June 22, 2011 by Michael Vereb
A few weeks ago I was at my sister’s graduation and was hit by a freight-train of nostalgia. There I was, standing at another school’s graduation, watching unknown students, hearing unfamiliar college stories, and reminiscing about my own school, friends, and college stories. I still have an entire year left but I thought about how much I’ve already experienced here.
I remember walking from Barrett Hall to the Sadler Center with my iPod and listening to Noah and the Whale every day. I remember starting a dance party in the corner of the Hall during the Roots concert. I remember going to Fort Lauderdale with the Ultimate team for Spring Break. I remember crossing the ferry to go Strawberry picking with friends. I remember the exact moment I found out my little brother would also be coming here. I remember playing football in the Sunken Gardens, when it was flooded. I remember late night trips to Waffle House. I remember my field trip to the James River with my Geo lab. I remember driving in my friend’s beat-up ’79 Ford Pick-up just to spend time together.
I remember smiles. I remember friends. I remember fondly.