Dearest Class of 2022,
So, here you are. You’ve decided to join us as members of this unique, still-growing school. Though a year has passed since we were in your place, we remember exactly how it felt: in between the chaos of our final year of high school, we were seized by hope and possibility with a slight (OK, maybe not so slight) tinge of terror. Nervous, excited, over-thinking, not thinking enough — whatever you are feeling or doing, nothing can truly prepare you for this fall.
Your first week here (we call it Foundation Week) will be intense. There will be moments when you’re elated, getting to know your new classmates and home, and ones where you will miss your friends and family back home. Throughout it all, however, you’ll start to develop the skills and support system you’ll need to thrive during your Foundation Year at Minerva.
And then the semester really begins. It’s true: classes are hard, readings are dense, and assignments are complex. There may even be times when you feel overwhelmed. Don’t forget to take breaks. Step outside. Take a deep breath. Go experience a new part of the city. Living in seven different locations around the world is one of the most exciting aspects of attending Minerva — take advantage of it!
You may be able to handle the challenges of navigating a new location with relative ease, having already experienced new beginnings in new places. Or this may be your first time living outside your childhood home. If you find yourself dealing with homesickness, culture shock, or loneliness, some words of advice: invest in developing a tight-knit community. Make an effort to connect with your classmates, seek out your peer tutors, and ask your professors questions during office hours. You’ll always have people around who want to explore, share a meal, stay up late talking, help with assignments, and do many other things that, combined, make up the familial norms at Minerva.
At the very beginning of the year, we were constantly told that we would become a family. Some of us felt this way almost immediately, but others reached that point only recently. What matters most is that we all realize that the only way to feel at home, while circling the globe, is by building strong bonds with the people who also understand what it means to be a Minerva student — our peers, with whom we study, struggle, and celebrate.
Speaking of celebrations, just a few weeks ago we joined our classmates and other members of the community at Fort Mason for Minerva’s annual Quinquatria festival. Faculty, staff, students, food, flowers, evening light, musical performances, a view of the water through large glass windows, light humor, serious speeches… There are times when Minerva feels like a movie. In a room full of people, who speak many different languages, we had to rely on a common understanding to communicate, one we’ve constructed together over the course of the past two semesters.
While we joke about it a lot, Minerva really does provide us with a “language” to describe the world around us in ways we have never thought of before. You might not understand this right now, but the first year of a Minerva education teaches you how to think about the world instead of filling your head with facts. It might be strange at first, but you will come to see that our education manifests itself in the world every day — that a Minerva education is like opening a door you will never be able to (or want to) close.
Over the next year, you will learn, grow, and, yes, change — but don’t let that scare you. Change is an implicit and integral part of being at Minerva. This school will change the way you talk to people, the way you see them, the way you see the world, and even the way you see yourself. And of course, your personal life will change in ways it never has before.
That’s just some of what lies ahead. So, while you are still at home, we encourage you to really appreciate how things are right now. It might sound scary, but the next time you go home after experiencing Minerva, things will not be the same. Of course you will be glad to see your family and friends, but soon after reuniting with them you will start to miss the common room. You will start to miss the San Francisco fog on Friday mornings. You will start to miss living just feet away from your best friends. Sure, these may be things all college students experience. But, for some reason, we think these feelings might be slightly different here.
Through all of this, don’t forget us in the Class of 2021. We may be an ocean and several very inconvenient time zones away, but we still care about you and want to help as much as we can. Need help feeding yourself as a broke college student? We’ll give you directions to the cheapest shops in Chinatown. Curious about a class or professor? Ask us! No matter what you might want to connect about, we’ll respond with reassurance and virtual hugs.
Welcome to the family, to all our challenges and triumphs. We can’t wait for you to come home.
Best of luck.
Emma & Olive