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Preparing for College Life

Preparing for College Life, a program coordinated by Rachel Lopez, College Counselor, in the Spring semester, was Rev. Beth Holden's brainchild back in 2014. That fall, she remembers reading about how difficult the transition can be from high school to college. Rev. Holden adds, "Most alarming to me were some shocking statistics about the sexual assault of women in their first few months of college and the rise of depression among all college students. I was also reading about very practical challenges students experienced in making the transition to college life."

Beth began a conversation with a number of people on campus, including our Choices Counselor, the College Counseling team, senior class sponsors and deans, and select faculty. Beth says, "This program was envisioned as a means of giving further support to our school mission to prepare students for meaningful lives beyond their high school years." In fact, it is one program that does so in a very direct and specific way.

The committee looked to find a way, in a two-day program, to tackle big and small challenges alike that all college students face, like consent and assault, roommate conflict, getting into sororities and fraternities, stress management, how to survive lecture courses, time management, applying for internships, money management, health care, and more.

Over the first few years of the program, their programming entailed two consecutive Wednesdays. On the first Wednesday, seniors were separated by gender to listen to guest speakers on the topic of consent. On the second Wednesday, seniors signed up for specific workshops on various topics, also led by guest speakers, and the program ended with lunch and an alumni panel.

Seniors were sent home with resources, including contact information for the speakers, a college packing list, a sample "College Roommate Agreement," and Rev. Holden's favorite, "Pearls of Wisdom" from our faculty.

A few years ago, the leadership and coordination of the program made its way to Rachel Lopez in College Counseling. This year, the workshop was consolidated to a single day to account for COVID-19 policies and procedures. Seniors attended a workshop during 5th period on Wednesday, April 7, with Dr. Richard Baker, Executive Director for Institutional Equity and the Title IX Coordinator at Rice University. They heard about Dr. Baker's compelling life, future life as an undergrad, and continued to build skills in establishing effective boundaries and maintaining healthy, consensual relationships. Their lunch this year ended with a visit by an ice cream food truck, a nice treat in a difficult year.

Dr. Baker selected Daniel Koch '21 for a demonstration that focused on differentiating between non-verbal and verbal consent. Daniel adds, "It was cool to be involved in the discussion like that. I felt like I gained a lot from it. It was an interesting way to learn how you should always make sure you have verbal consent."

Isabelle de Bruyker '21 found it to be an eye-opening experience. She says, "Dr. Baker was very engaging as he spoke about taking care of ourselves through college whether it was about consent or being at a party. He related to all of us as he explained what experiences he had through high school and college. I really happy he shared his experience with us!"

Adds Ms. Lopez, "After several years presenting to the male senior students, it was exciting to witness Dr. Baker in action with all members of the Class of 2021. Learning about his childhood in Compton, California, and the 'baby-blue flame moments' (as he calls them) that led him to Texas, to multiple degrees, and to the upper echelons of higher education, inspired the listening group of students, faculty and staff."

--Emma Tsai