White Water Rafting and the First Year of College
It is amazing how much you time you have to reflect while bouncing down the Hudson River. It is even more amazing to me that I have time to think about how rafting is related to my work with first year college students. One of my summer vacation adventures this summer was to raft with some family and friends down the Hudson River.How does this relate to the First Year Experience? Here goes:
Having the members of your boat work together as a team makes a difference.
Safely and successfully navigating class three white water rapids requires all occupants of the raft to work together. Similarly, students need to work together to help each other throughout the up and downs of the first year of college. Attempting to do it alone is significantly more difficult.
Listening to an experienced guide is important.
Having an experienced guide (in our case, 28 years of experience), instills confidence that you can tackle the white water. The guide also provides a sense of comfort that if you run into a difficult spot on the river, they will be able to get you through the situation. In the first year of college, there many experienced guides available for students. These guides (peer mentors, faculty advisors, class deans, FYS instructors, resident assistants) can provide guidance through many personal and academic challenges that students may face. The key is to listen to these guides at the appropriate times and avoid the difficult places if possible.
The river is unpredictable and ever changing.
Every day the river is different, water levels rise and fall, rocks that were not visible one day are suddenly there the next. You cannot control the whims of nature and nor should you think you can. The first year of college is unpredictable as well. Students should allow themselves to be nimble enough to bounce through the occasional obstacles that are thrown their way.
It is important to enjoy the ride.
A rafting experience should be enjoyable. It is an opportunity to be challenged physically while embracing the wonders of nature. You should take the time to look around when the waters are calm and appreciate what you are fortunate enough to be experiencing. The first year of college is an amazing ride that will go by quickly. You should embrace the moment and all the great opportunities you have, before you know it, you are pulling that raft out of the water and all that is left is the pictures and the stories.