May 23, 2014
Hello! As the academic year comes to a close, I wanted to reach out to say congratulations to all of our recent graduates (please make sure to transition your email!) and to all of our returning students. You've completed yet another semester here at Kenyon -- hopefully with many highlights and few bumps -- and you should reward yourself with some good rest at this point.
Similar to the fall, I present you now with another Dean's List for the spring. Once again, I hope these comments will be useful to you as you reflect on your term, what you've done well, and what you can do better. I know the Advising Office and I are constantly trying to improve, and I hope you'll join us by doing the same.
I'll be around most of the summer, so feel free to reach out in person or via email. I'll certainly make time to speak with you.
Hoi Ning Ngai, Ph.D.
Dean for Academic Advising and Support
Kenyon College, Edwards House, Second Floor
1. EXPECTATIONS & RESPONSIBILITIES: Know what they are - for your classes, for your organizations, for your jobs, for your faculty, for your friends, for your parents. If anything is unclear, please ask questions. Don't make assumptions about what you should or shouldn't be responsible for. It's in everyone's best interest to just ask. At the very least, you've done your due diligence by posing the necessary questions.
2. CONSEQUENCES & PENALTIES: Know what they are -- for your classes, for your organizations, for your jobs, for your faculty, for your friends, for your parents. If anything is unclear, please ask questions. Are we experiencing deja-vous here? Why yes, yes we are. Because it's as important to understand what you need to do, as it is to understand what happens when you don't do what you need to do. We often expect (or hope) things will work out. The reality is that not everything works out. At that point, what do you do? How do you handle the situation? What are your next steps? Things can't always be fixed. Your reactions and responses will be a testament of your resilience.
3. ROLE & VALUE OF COMMUNICATION: If I were ever to write a book, it'd be on the role and value of communication -- and on all the problems stemming from miscommunication. As we all know, communication skills are a constant work in progress, at both the institutional and personal levels. We can only hope to convey our ideas and thoughts as clearly as possible, and hope that our intentions and messages are heard and understood. To this end, please make sure to READ YOUR EMAILS and RESPOND IN A REASONABLE AND TIMELY MANNER. As Kenyon students, faculty, and staff, we're all expected to read our emails. Not living up to this basic expectation can certainly be detrimental to communication as well as to community.
4. DOING YOUR DUE DILIGENCE: If you're sick, go to the Health Center. If you need to talk through personal issues, make an appointment with the Counseling Center. If you're having trouble with a class, go to office hours, check in with the Math Science Skills Center or the Writing Center, request available tutor support through Student Accessibility and Support Services, etc. If you think you'll miss classes for major illness or family death, let your faculty know immediately (via email, voicemail, another student in class, etc.) and request their support if appropriate and possible. If you're having trouble meeting a deadline due to extenuating circumstances, request an extension in advance of that deadline. It's expected that you do everything to avail yourself of every resource on campus. It's also expected that you know and understand course policies with regard to absences and/or late work. Don't expect one professor's policies to apply to another professor's class. The key thing is to take as much control of your situation as possible. ALSO: Consider what situations are really extenuating. It's important to make special requests infrequently -- otherwise they're no longer special requests.
5. INFORMATION FROM THE SOURCE: Remember to seek information from the source. While information from friends and colleagues may be helpful, it may not always be accurate or up-to-date. Have questions about dates and deadlines? It's best to consult Kenyon's Academic Calendar. Have questions about academic policies and procedures? It's best to consult Kenyon's Course Catalog. Want to speak to someone in person about dates and policies? It's best to touch base with the Registrar's Office, located on the first floor of Edwards House. If you have questions about majors or minors, consult departmental websites, chairs, and faculty. If you have questions about studying abroad, consult the Center for Global Engagement. If you have questions about your academic record, consult the Registrar's Office. If you have questions about your financial status, consult the Financial Aid Office and/or the Student Accounts Office. If you have no idea where to go, you can consult any of these offices, the Dean of Students Office, or the Advising Office, and they're likely to be able to assist you in finding your way to the source.
6. PERSONAL INTEGRITY: Know that how you act and interact in every space on campus, whether academic, organizational, athletic, dramatic, residential, etc., contributes to how everyone sees you - especially on a small campus in a small community. If you're thoughtful and responsible in one space, that will naturally translate to other spaces. The opposite, of course, is true as well. Be aware that you all serve as models for those younger than you. Who you are may not simply be who you are, but who somebody else wants to be too.
7. SELF-REFLECTION & SELF-ASSESSMENT: Think about the year. What did you accomplish? What else do you want to do? How did you improve? When and where did you stumble? What do you want to do about it? Life's too short to not think about who you are and who you want to become. Think about the year while it's all still fresh. Or else, take a step back, take a long breath, and then think about the year. You decide what works for you.
I wish you all the best for amazing summer. You'll be missed! And if you're around, it'd be lovely to chat in person.