Ten Ways to Get Through Tenth Week

It’s no secret that Kalamazoo College is academically rigorous. We may only take three classes a quarter, but all of the material that would normally be spread out across a 15-week semester is packed into only ten weeks. Luckily, there are plenty of resources on campus and off campus to help you through the tumult of finishing off the quarter.

  1. The Cavern

The Cavern is a space located underneath Stetson Chapel that has an assortment of comforts for students looking to take a break from the commotion of tenth week. Whether you need a cookie, tea, or merely a soft couch to take a nap on, the Cavern has it all. There is also no WiFi in this underground sanctuary, so if you are feeling like you just need to disconnect, this is a great place to gain some uninterrupted rest and relaxation.

  1. Exam Week Extravaganza

The Saturday night before exam week the cafeteria hosts what is called “Exam Week Extravaganza”. This event, put on by our Office of Student Involvement, has food, drink, and activities to provide students with entertainment and fuel they need to push through the final few days of the quarter. Students can come here for some food and fun – and one year there was even a mechanical bull!

  1. The A Cappella Concert

The weekend before finals week the A Cappella groups at K host their end of quarter concert. We have four a Cappella groups here on campus, and on Friday and Saturday night they perform the songs they’ve been practicing all quarter. This event is a campus favorite and provides students with a respite from studying to support their peers and hear some great music.

  1. Puppies on the Quad

The Office of Student Involvement here at K knows that tenth week is a stressful time for students. Each quarter they host some form of de-stress event during tenth week so that students can take a break from their studies. While their tenth week programming varies throughout the years, my personal favorite is when they partner with local animal shelters and bring in puppies for students to interact with. There is nothing better to energize you than cuddling a pup!

  1. The Lillian Anderson Arboretum

Sometimes, on-campus stress relievers just aren’t enough, and I need to get off campus in order to really relax. One great resource that is owned by the college is the Lillian Anderson Arboretum – a nature preserve about a ten minute drive from campus where students can reconnect with nature. It’s so easy to get caught up in the chaos and expectations of the end of the quarter, so having a peaceful afternoon on a nature trail is definitely one way to ease the tension of tenth week.

  1. Water Street Coffee Co.

There are several other off-campus locations in addition to the Arboretum that can help students survive their final week of the quarter. The city of Kalamazoo is full of funky little coffee shops such as Water Street Coffee Co., Black Owl Café, Fourth Coast Café and Bakery, and more. All of these locations are within walking distance from campus and can provide a way for students to get off campus.

  1. The Book Club

While taking breaks for self-care is definitely an important part of managing tenth week, sometimes the only way to get through is to hunker down and get to work. When this is the case, the Book Club – our campus coffee shop – can help. Located right on the first floor of the library, the Book Club offers brewed coffee, specialty beverages, and assorted food items. This is a great place to get the fuel you need to power through those tough assignments.

  1. The Library

Speaking of which, the library is also a great resource for students who need a quiet place to focus on their work. Our library has three floors, and as you ascend, it gets quieter. If you need to have absolute silence in order to work, you can find a private study cubby on the third floor to dive in deep with your work. If you work better in a more social environment with background noise, the first floor is the place for you. On the second floor we have the reading room – a gorgeous open space with two fireplaces, comfy arm chairs, and tall glass windows so you can soak in the sunlight while you study.

  1. The Counseling Center

Sometimes, the stress of tenth week can just be too much. When that happens, students can make an appointment with a trained, licensed professional at our student Counseling Center. This resource is completely free for any K College student, and appointments can be arranged within 24 hours of initial contact. This is an excellent resource for students who need that extra bit of support to navigate stressful times.

  1. The Fitness and Wellness Center

Self-care looks different for everyone. For those whose self-care looks like getting their body moving, the Fitness and Wellness Center is a great resource. This newly constructed building has state-of-the-art machinery that is available for free for all students and faculty. There are also squash and tennis quarts, yoga and dance studios, and a weight lifting area. Whatever exercise therapy you may need, the Fitness and Wellness center is the place to go.

Finals week is a stressful time for students at any college or university. Kalamazoo College cares about the well-being of its students and so the resources above and many others are here to ensure that everyone can navigate this intense time of the quarter. With tenth week quickly approaching, I’ll be sure to keep this list in mind!

Savannah Kinchen ‘18

Entering College with an Undeclared Major

There is a common misconception that students should know exactly what they want to do for the rest of their lives the moment they step foot on their college campus. In actuality, a large portion of students enter college with an undeclared major or have little to no idea what career path they want to follow and use their college experience to figure it out along the way. I like to think Kalamazoo College’s K-Plan works best for students who are unsure of what they want to do, because it allows for a little trial and error with minimal consequences. The K-Plan is built to prepare you for what’s next, and one important piece of that is to give you opportunities to explore with the support of the institution behind you.

Jessica Williams     Admission Counselor

Let’s take a look at the first component of the K-Plan Depth and Breadth in Liberal Arts. At Kalamazoo College, students do not officially declare their major until the middle of their sophomore year. Although some students are very certain what they want to major in, we encourage everyone to take different kinds of classes and explore different departments. By the time you declare your major, you will have taken fifteen classes. That’s fifteen opportunities to figure out what you like and we hope by then you land on one (or two!) department(s) you want to major in. One question I always get when I say this is “But will I still graduate on time? I REALLY don’t know what I want to major in”. Yes, you will still graduate on time *Hears sigh of relief from every senior around the world*. With our open curriculum and minimal requirements, time to explore different areas of study is built into a 4-year graduation plan.

In the same vein, there are students who know what they want to study, but they do not know how they can turn their interest into a career. Many people have grown up with the notion that there are three major career paths – doctor, lawyer, and teacher – and feel a little out of place when they come to the realization that their passion does not perfectly align with any of these careers. Kalamazoo College has an externship program called Discovery, and just as the name implies, it provides students with the opportunity to discover a variety of career paths as early as the end of their freshman year. Students get the chance to take a glimpse at what their life can look like 5, 10, or 30 years from now and are able to decide whether this is something they want to pursue before diving deep into a major. The ability to see a variety of career possibilities helps our students find a career path that is right for them early in their undergraduate career.

In short, I know walking into college not knowing what you want to do can seem scary, but the K-Plan provides you the space to ask questions, explore, and grow, so that you can be successful and thrive at anything you decide to do.

Jessica Williams, Admission Counselor

Research Rescue: Accessible Help at K’s Library

The first time I had to write a research paper at Kalamazoo College was for my First Year Seminar, a course that all freshmen take during their first quarter at K. It’s safe to say, I was a little overwhelmed. I wasn’t sure where to start, what sources would be considered credible enough for an academic paper, or where to find my information online, let alone how to navigate the library and its three stories of shelves full of books.

It turns out that I had nothing to worry about because one of the great things about attending a smaller college like K is that not only do the First Year Seminar professors here anticipate freshmen students’ needs, but also that there are resources for help readily available. My professor set up a class period dedicated entirely to learning how to find sources for a research paper called the Beyond Google workshop, where the class works with a librarian who explains how to access K’s databases, electronic journals, and physical copies of books.

The Beyond Google workshop made me feel more prepared going into future essays, even if they weren’t explicitly research-based. I suddenly had access to resources that provided a better context to frame ideas within and to studies and evidence that solidified my arguments. Through this workshop, I also learned that if something wasn’t available through Kalamazoo College’s library or subscriptions, I had options to find materials online, in a statewide book-sharing database, and even at Western Michigan University.

All of this information was helpful to get me through my first quarter here at K, but what really amazed me was an information session I sat in on with my Women, Gender, and Sexuality class during my second quarter. Leading up to our final project and research paper, one of the K librarians had put together a whole workshop and webpage catered specifically to our class. The webpage was set up with step-by-step guides on how to find physical copies of books, how to navigate online journals and databases, and how to request resources from WMU. The librarian had taken the time to pick out the databases and indexes that were most relevant to our class, to suggest guiding keywords that worked best for different types of searches, and even to check the credibility of non-academic websites that could supplement our academic research. She then spent our class time going through real possibilities that students were specifically interested in researching, explaining how to search in an effective and timely manner, and offered us the option of individual help through a scheduled meeting with a Reference Librarian called “Research Rescue.”

I was struck by the specificity of the help available for students, something that a lot of people don’t get at larger universities. Because of K’s size, resources for help, whether it be academic or not, are easy to access and can be accommodated to meet individual needs. The Beyond Google workshop and info session with one of our Reference Librarians have provided me with the tools I need to be successful at K and have better prepared me for my academic future here.

-Emiliana Renuart ‘20

Helping Hands

Sometimes it’s hard to ask for help because we develop such a strong sense of pride and we don’t want to do anything to ruin that. In high school I had grown comfortable when asking for help, knowing what teachers were willing to go the extra step and make sure I connected to the assignments and projects only because I spent four consecutive years there and the school itself was relatively small. Coming to K though, I struggled. I think the main reason for this was that I didn’t have connections yet, everything was still new and fresh and I didn’t know exactly who to turn to for help, or even how.

The first few weeks in my classes I was assigned multiple essays. Being assigned the essays wasn’t the issue as I have always been one to perform well in English and writing. The issue was, however, that college was a new space with new expectations and I wanted to start off the year strong but wasn’t sure who or where to turn to for help in order to succeed. Fortunately, this is how many first year students may feel when they first get to college and the teachers are aware of it, especially here at K. One of the places on campus that is repeatedly mentioned for academic assistance is the Writing Center, and for a good reason too. The Writing Center is made up of student consultants in a variety of different majors that have been trained to help students with any academic, or even recreational, writings, whether that be an essay, lab report, poem, or short story. The students there are more than willing to take the time to work with you to get your assignment where you want it no matter where you are in the writing process- understanding the prompt, editing a draft, or finalizing a polished piece.

Within my first quarter, I found myself at the Writing Center for almost every writing assignment. It became a secure space for creating ideas and receiving critique, making it easy to stop thinking that getting some assistance may ruin your pride. I have worked with several different consultants and each one has worked as hard as the next in helping me start, edit, and finish assignments before their due dates. Each have also gone the extra step and have spent time past scheduled appointments to help wrap up ideas or go over new additions, while making it clear that if I needed more assistance they were open to meeting up at a different time without scheduling an appointment.

The Writing Center at K is just one of the many resources that is available to students for academic assistance and that wants you to be successful. Don’t worry about your pride when gaining a helping hand leads to a strong essay, friendly connections, and free candy with every visit!

-Karina Pantoja ’20

Making Connections at K

Though the environment, campus, and cost of a college are some of the most popular deciding factors when figuring out where you want to be for the next four years, I realized it’s also important to look at the faculty and staff that work at the college. Although it may seem like it, the students at a college aren’t the only people you’re spending the next four years with. The professors and administration, even the security and dining staff, are all individuals who also have the ability to make your college experience noteworthy or one you wish to forget.

When deciding on K College, I hadn’t given much thought to the faculty, staff, and administration at K. I was solely focused on the cost and classes offered to ensure I was going to get the most out of these next four crucial years. However, I soon realized I had made a mistake when I chose not to look into the professors and staff, not because I would’ve known what professors to look out for and what administration to kiss up to, but because there are so many extraordinary individuals within those positions here at K.

Throughout my first two quarters here at K, I have been lucky enough to have professors that have a strong passion for teaching while making the required material not only easy to comprehend, but also intriguing. One specific individual who has stood out above the rest is my academic advisor Diane Seuss, whom was also the professor of my First-Year Seminar.

Di doesn’t just teach the material in her class, she dissects it, smothers it all over you with a dash of personal narrative and a hint of real-world experiences, and puts it in its own special package for you to carry for the rest of your time at K. She makes a classroom of shy acquaintances bloom into a bold new family and reminds you it’s okay to take a mental day.

Not only was a Di an impactful professor, but she’s also a more than qualified academic advisor. Coming into K, I was so confident in the direction I wanted my studies to go that I didn’t think an academic advisor would offer any meaningful insight. I went into the meeting ready to tell her that I intend on double majoring in English and Psychology with a minor in Spanish, but left the meeting thinking about a concentration in Women’s Studies, or a double major with Anthropology/Sociology instead of Psychology. Di told me that the best part about K was that there’s plenty of room to take classes you wouldn’t normally think of taking, such as the religion course I decided to take this past quarter. She made it clear to me that I have time to experiment and start fulfilling required credits for my intended English major.

Di has gone out of her way to not just offer my guidance within an academic context, but on a more personal level as well. She is more than willing to meet outside of her scheduled office hours to chat about classwork or anything else that’s going on in my life. Fortunately, that’s how most professors at K are; they’re more than willing to go the next step and create a relationship with you. So if you’re thinking about coming to K, do some research on the staff, especially those that teach in your areas of interest, and be ready to create a relationship with them because they can’t wait to make one with you.

-Karina Pantoja ’20

Those Who Teach

You would think that a first-year like myself might find difficulty in writing holistically about my experiences with faculty and professors, having only been at the school for a few months. At other colleges and universities across the country, that might well be the case, but here at K, things move faster – and that includes the process of getting to know the intelligent, committed individuals who drive our education forward.

One of the first faculty members all first-year students come to know is their academic advisors. I was assigned to Dr. Sugimori, a math and Japanese professor – a stark contrast from my intended majors of English and history! But any concerns I may have had regarding potential incompatibility between the two of us were quickly squashed upon our first meeting. Despite not being a part of the fields I was looking into, Dr. Sugimori was immediately committed to helping me understand requirements and find the right classes to pursue my intended majors. She also expressed sincere interest in how my first semester at K was going, and was visibly delighted to learn I had started writing for The Index – she even vowed to start reading my articles each week!

In addition, one of the first professors I came across in a classroom setting was Dr. Sinha. Within her Classical Hollywood class, I was initially impressed by her seemingly-endless knowledge in any and all subjects relating to film, as well as her ability to articulate these topics, both in the context of the past as well as in the present. But after a few weeks in class, I found myself even more moved by her considerate nature, as she was more than willing to make an appointment with me during office hours when I was unsure about an assignment. Even a few weeks after Classical Hollywood had ended, Dr. Sinha cared enough to return my final essay at my request, and readily agreed to be a reference as I applied for on-campus work.

And of course, no blog post about faculty would be complete without mention of the incredible Dr. Boyer-Lewis, a history professor here at K. I chose to take her Women’s History class at the enthusiastic recommendation of a friend, and I am grateful every day that I did. I find myself surprised at how quickly an hour and fifteen minutes seems to pass with a professor who has so much passion for what she teaches. What’s more, Dr. Boyer-Lewis, like Dr. Sinha, was quick to recognize any potential I may have had, generously offering advice when I approached her about an externship in the field of history and eagerly offering herself up as a recommendation, giving me the confidence to pursue further experience and education, even outside of the classroom.

And in all of this reflection, I think of days in the not-so-distant past when I, too, was a prospective student. I remember searching sites like Rate My Professor religiously to see what current K students thought of the faculty members in my potential fields of study, and thought it had to be impossible that the College’s average professor rating was 4 out of 5, with a number of them earning near perfect scores in every category. But nearly two semesters in, I now understand quite clearly what it is that compelled those former students to write such glowing testimonials of the professors they have learned so much from.

Trust me when I say, when it comes to the faculty at Kalamazoo College, words – whether spoken, written on a blog, or posted on a site – can only say so much. The rest truly must be experienced for itself.

– Addie Dancer ’20

College is “An Awfully Big Adventure”

When I walked into my first-year seminar on the first day of my orientation, I knew that it would be an awfully big adventure. Not only was it the first class I would take in college, but the title of the seminar was “An Awfully Big Adventure”—a reference to Peter Pan, one of my favorite childhood stories. While I had originally planned on taking a seminar related to theatre, my anticipated (now almost-complete) major, I found myself so enthralled by the title of the second class, and the idea of using books I had loved as a child as guidance for my transition into college, that I enrolled in it before any of my other classes, hoping that I would secure one of the limited spots.

I don’t know what I was expecting while walking into Humphrey House on that first day, but know I hadn’t thought that my professor (the incredible Di Seuss) would greet me by name before I had fully stepped into the room, hadn’t predicted that I would take a seat on a comfortable couch next to a girl who would eventually become my best friend and future suitemate, hadn’t foreseen such a casual atmosphere. I knew that my classes at Kalamazoo would never resemble the crowded lectures I had sat in during visits to larger schools, but I never guessed that I would feel so comfortable on the first day of my college career.

Over the course of the quarter, I found a safe haven in Di’s class, for the relaxed environment provided me with an escape from the stress and challenges I faced while adjusting to college life. The once-empty seat that I had claimed on the first day became my permanent spot; my classmates and I spent our Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays laughing and eating donuts while sharing favorite memories from childhood. My favorite part of each class was starting every class with “The Pig”, a ritual during which each student wrote an anonymous note describing their mood at the time (we later drew each note out of a basket and read them out loud). Some people even wrote notes to each other—I will never forget one anonymous note that said “Lauren, you’re beautiful” (and still wonder which of my classmates wrote it to this day).

It has been two years since I first walked into that seminar, and every day I am still grateful that I made the spontaneous decision to enroll in that class. Whenever I talk to incoming students about the first-year seminars, I always encourage them to take one that does not relate to their intended major, hoping that they’ll broaden their horizons the way that I did—I can honestly say that, had I not expanded my interests and taken advantage of the freedom that Kalamazoo’s open curriculum offers, the point I am at now in my college experience would be completely different.

Though my first-year seminar was the most unconventional way I could have imagined starting my four years at K, it is still my favorite class that I have taken. While each of my former classmates have embarked on their own “awfully big adventures” over the last two years, we still keep in touch quite frequently, and try to have a reunion at least once a year. Only a few more months until our next one—fingers crossed that someone will remember the donuts!

–Lauren Landman ‘18