A Day for Exploring College Realities
Gabriel Gaskin, College Transition Day's facilitator, began by asking the scholars to share which borough they came from, which college they were bound for, and what was “Your academic superpower — you know you have one.” Math, time management and, perhaps most importantly, a willingness to ask for help were all cited.
Gabe, the founder of a consultancy called the Pax Crew that specializes in diversity and inclusiveness, then asked the scholars to close their eyes and envision their first day on campus: “What does it feel like to walk into your first class, meet your first professor, have a card that essentially lets you get whatever food you want?”
Conversation led Gabe into the discussion of “Imposter Syndrome” — the feeling, in this case, that the admissions committee must have made a mistake. Xabier, who is entering his sophomore year at Columbia, said that his dormitory floor had a large banner that read: “You belong here.” He recalled thinking, “Not me.” Then he realized that everybody else felt the same way. That discovery helped him overcome his doubts. “Remind yourself,” Gabe said, invoking those academic superpowers, “that you are great!”
Topics covered during the day went beyond academics, to dealing with roommate challenges, asking for help, handling finances and techniques for grappling with the large amount of required reading. Laura Wilson, chief executive of Wilson Prep, an SAT and academic tutoring group, said that being a better and faster reader of nonfiction writing meant becoming “a detective of meaning.” She demonstrated multiple techniques for quickly and thoroughly analyzing nonfiction writing.
The day’s last item of business began when Kate asked each of the scholars to write down specific intentions for the next year. Among them: “Meet with three professors.” “Join two activities.” “Try not to hit the Freshman 15.” “Meet five to ten people a semester that I like.” “Create a schedule for myself that I actually follow.” “Become really good friends with my roommate.” And: “Learn to kayak."