Singing the song of studentship

The community on our campus makes for a positive college experience.

Not too long ago, I registered to graduate. The fact that Hamline has us apply for graduation a year before the actual ceremony does a number on my anxiety, but I bit my tongue and did it anyway. When I received an email confirming my registration and running through the number of credits I had left, a pit began to form in my stomach – not because something caught me off guard, but because suddenly my impending future felt so real.

Up until now, I’ve been experiencing a feeling that I can only describe as “coasting.” I have been comfortable in my identity as a college student. I’ve fallen into a rhythm over the past three years that has left me feeling secure. I know who I am. But it has occurred to me that once I graduate, I will no longer be in the category of “student.”

I have been a student for the majority of my life. Most of us undergraduates have. I can’t be the only person who finds navigating a brand new identity intimidating. When I look around me at my friends who are graduating this year, they seem so assured. How do I get to that point? How do any of us?

It has all got me thinking: what does it really mean to be a student? The answer is not a cut and dry one. There is no way it could be. It could be argued that who you are as a student is dependent on where you are geographically. So, that being said, what does it mean to be a student at Hamline University, specifically?

It will come as no surprise when I admit that I can’t speak for every student. When I say that my experience here has been an overall positive one, I realize that this does not apply to everyone in the same way. Circumstances and people are different. In some of my past columns, I’ve discussed the idea of the “one-size-fits-all” policy, and how it is flawed. The same logic can be applied here.

Institutions have their pros and their cons. Hamline has been dinged by its community for issues surrounding accessibility, use of space and treatment of adjunct members, to name a few. Belittling these complaints is not my goal. However, I do stand by some of the positives of being a student at this school. People may say that I have a bias because I work in the admission office … I’m always selling Hamline. But we all have our own bias in some way, shape, or form. In this case, I feel genuine about my admiration and that’s enough for me.

When I came to Hamline as a hopeful creative writing major (that part of my college career did not last long) I was automatically attracted to the closeness of our academic buildings. Everything is walkable, and that was appealing to me. Every day when I walk to class or work, I see at least four people I know as I cross campus. With some, I just share a wave. With others, we talk and talk until I look at my watch and throw in a quick goodbye to avoid being late. It is actually amazing how close-knit this campus feels. Take a second and think about it: we really are a community. Everyone I know has people on this campus whom they can truly count on, and they get to see those individuals every day. How incredible is that?

The real world doesn’t work that way, obviously. But the number of people here who know me by name, who ask about my day and who genuinely care about me makes me feel like school is worth my time. To be a student at Hamline is to be recognized. To be a student at Hamline is to be more than a name on a roster list for a class. Sure, I probably sound like a college brochure right now, but I wouldn’t be writing this if I didn’t believe it.

I am appreciative of Hamline because it feels like a home base, and not just because I have lived on campus for three whole years. This community is something I look forward to coming back to each time I leave, and the people who fill its population are a huge part of that. Maybe, come next spring, I’ll be singing a different tune. Perhaps by that time I will be more than ready to leave Hamline and all that it has given me. But for now, I’m going to enjoy this place that I’m at. For now, I’m going to sing it a love song.