Well, friends, the final countdown of my time as a Wheaton College student has begun in earnest. Graduating before the month is over leaves me with a multitude of thoughts and questions about the future, chief of which remain: How do I defer my student loan payments to after graduate school? Will I still have access to the Microsoft Word documents on my computer, or will they all magically disappear when I’m no longer provided Microsoft Office by the college? Also, how long will the Schoology portal remain open so that I can print out the syllabus of each one of my classes since freshman year and frame them?
In my final article, I’ll be addressing two questions aimed toward your own Wheaton future. I have so appreciated the feedback I’ve gotten from the student body and faculty alike, and I wish you all a great start to 2021. Happy reading!
You’ve probably gained a few insights as Wheaton has transitioned to virtual classes at the tail end of this semester. First and foremost, you need to do some major unlearning when it comes to talking to your peers and professors. We have spent our lives learning facial cues from those we’re talking with, and learning how to orient conversations based on others’ reactions. Due to the time lag that occurs over video chatting, however, there is often a substantial delay in peoples’ reactions to the things you’re saying. If you spend too much energy trying to elicit a smile from your audience, you’re going to burn out and experience mental fatigue when the Zoom crowd looks completely uninterested. If you’ve ever noticed feeling incredibly tired after video calls, that’s one of the primary reasons why.
Second, make yourself accountable by keeping that camera on. The temptation to not broadcast yourself for everyone to see quickly devolves into a temptation to wander into another room and pet your dog. Don’t do that.
Third, be assertive. Trying to talk on Zoom is often like coming to a four-way stop at the same time as three other people. Someone just needs to take initiative. I’ve seen a fair number of conversations die out because students are nervous they might interrupt their peers. If you have something significant to say, go for it.
First off, when I first came to Wheaton, I bought into an awful lie. I convinced myself that my goal for the next four years was to cling to the faith tradition that I had been raised in and to preserve my views to the best of my ability. I misused my first year of college defending my incoming worldview rather than listening to others and being open to the wisdom of my peers and professors.
One of the best things I can recommend, then, is to take advantage of the great minds surrounding you at Wheaton by being open to others’ thoughts. If you are swayed by a doctrine that isn’t espoused by your home church, explore it! Wherever you land, you will feel much more confident about your views from having spent some time wrestling with them. Personally, I’ve flipped back and forth between believer’s baptism and infant baptism more times than I can count — I even flipped twice in the course of one class period.
Second, having friend groups is absolutely a wonderful thing, but I would recommend also plugging into a solid group of people with a common goal by joining an on-campus group of some kind. On-campus groups are a good constant to have as you navigate your time at Wheaton. Organizations such as Residence Life and Discipleship Ministries have connected me with other students and mentors who were great to spend time with and work alongside.
Finally, allow yourself to be a true liberal arts student! Is there a minor or a double major that you’re absolutely set on graduating with? If not, you should dabble in as many departments as possible. Sure, the Christ at the Core tag system requires a bit of this, but branching out and taking courses that seem completely unrelated to your area of study might surprise you. For instance, I’ve found classes in the Anthropology and BITH departments to be instrumental in the way I conceptualize psychology.
I hope you will use these tips to build a successful Wheaton career that makes good use of the tools available to you!