Category Archives: Academics

The Final Grind

Two final grinds are upon us. The first one happens at Jorgenson’s where I get my coffee ground so I can save some $krilla when I’m doing the other grind. The other grind, as expected, is the end of the semester.

I may only be in two classes and one independent study, but as they say, “when it rains it pours”. My final two weeks of Colby progress as follows:

Monday – Todger Anderson Stock Portfolio Pitch. This is basically the culmination of a semester’s worth of research on a specific stock and its possibility to be put in the Colby endowment for 40 years – my group won! Throw that in your resume and pitch it.

Wednesday – Geology Lab Final. Woah. Probably want to study those rocks a little bit harder next time. Quite literally got rocked. Did you know rocks can look totally different even if they’re the same rock?

Next Tuesday – 40 page paper due for my independent study. Going into Tuesday only have 10 left. That’s still a lot.

Thursday evening – Corp Fi 2 Final Exam. Options – when you have them and when you don’t. I guess it’s a good thing there are corporate financiers. I’m not sure I’m meant to be one.

Sunday – all that stands between me and Freedom!!! Geo exam. Final. Exam.

Some people definitely have worse grinds than I do. I set up senior spring to be a little bit more enjoyable on the class side of things though. Yet, when it’s all said and done most of these kids don’t have two final grinds though. Time for a little iced coffee and then back to that other grind.

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A Fine Beta Kappa Speech pt. 2

Here is part 2..

For the sake of the media, the college’s rankings and the parents of the kids applying to Colby, it is difficult, too idealistic and improbable to assume we can cast off all numbers and pretend we’re a Montessori school. But, I think we can take the example that another famed venture capitalist, Peter Thiel enumerates about Google – they pretend they’re just another ad-tech company competing in a giant sea, but their real focus is on an entirely different level.

A distinction like this can allow Colby to truly focus on what is actually important – creating an environment that sets their hearts on flame. That means seeking out the kids that may not be going straight into finance or med school orand find the kids that are different, and have varying interests and then give them the right environment here at Colby, so that in their 4 years here they can create and build a body of knowledge and skills that will prepare them to live a successful and inventive life. This means that it should come to no surprise that a computer science major is on the lacrosse team, or that a football player is a 4.0 student, or that someone on the Woodsmen team dresses like a prep.

The fact of the matter is that there will be plenty of kids who will continue going to work at banks and plenty of 2300 SAT bio majors that will continue getting into Colby. It will continue, I promise, and the school can still take part in the arms race on the Forbes list with other ivy league schools and small liberal arts colleges. This is okay. In this we can pretend to be a similar, but different school and manage to compete on an entirely different level.

I firmly believe that the outcome a liberal arts college should aspire to is not just create another good looking number. No matter what the buzzword of the day is, a college like Colby should remain steadfast in its desire to create complete human beings, not just statistics. And if you don’t believe me, perhaps a quote from Tom Peters, former McKinsey partner and management guru will help put everything in perspective: “I was at a dinner party recently with a guy who’s probably one of the top ten finance people in the world. At one point he said, “Do you know what the biggest problem is with big-company CEOs? They don’t read enough.”

That that is the biggest complaint from a multibillionaire investor to a former management consultant tells us that through all the noise, the focus of the liberal arts college perhaps does lie in its history: teaching the liberal arts.

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A Fine Betta Kappa Speech

Today, I want to share the first draft of my Phi Beta Kappa speech for the annual speech contest. I will split it into two parts and if I continue into the next round, I’ll be sure to let you know my edits because everybody loves edits. So here goes:


“Colleges… can only highly serve us when they aim not to drill, but to create and set the hearts of their youth on flame.” At least that is what Ralph Waldo Emerson stated in a speech to the Phi Beta Kappa Society in 1837. The speech was aptly titled The American Scholar and would soon become the society’s literary magazine title as well. But we are here to discuss the outcomes to which a liberal arts college should aspire, not to have a history lesson. Or is that not the case?


I think we can all agree with Emerson’s statement that a college should seek to give its students both the ability and the inspiration to create. And yet at the same time, the very question we are here to discuss is asking about outcomes – whether jobs, graduate admissions, or fellowships. On one hand, we know have Emerson’s seemingly immeasurable ideals, and on the other hand, we have, and Colby is not alone in this, an innate desire to objectively measure how we are doing. So while it’s great to hear from intellectual A to Fareed Zakaria that the students are learning to think critically, the students also need jobs.

I would like to suggest that the outcome is not an either or question, but a both and question. Both and? That sounds like English Theory, not a practical solution, you might be saying. A-ha! Exactly. But how do we blend practical job needs per se with theoretical ideals?

In an essay on start up ideas, the venture capitalist and Y Combinator founder, Paul Graham quotes Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance saying, “You want to know how to paint a perfect painting? It’s easy. Make yourself perfect and then just paint naturally,” he then follows up that quote by saying, “empirically, the way to have good start up ideas is to become the sort of person who has them.”

Once again, I think we can all agree that painting a perfect painting or having a good start up is an outcome for graduates that a liberal arts college would be happy aspiring to. But then again the problem with that is, will a famous artist be measurable at 23. Will the founder of the next ground-breaking technology be a billionaire before 30?

The outcome that we keep hoping liberal arts colleges will aspire to is one that is that cannot be measured in the near term. There is no statistic to tell you which accepted students will create a groundbreaking technology. But the statistic telling us how many students are admitted per year and how many get jobs at bulge bracket banks does exist.

Pt. 2 tomorrow…..

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InsideLook: Independent Study

As promised – the  insides of an independent study. Last time on insideColby we took you on a never-before-seen-tour of the independent study. 250 words. 1 professor. 1 student. Welcome to the Octagon.

So what does an independent study entail? Having taken one independent study for each my major and minor, I have a bit of perspective on what they can be for liberal arts or economics. You’ll have to ask someone else about science.

Right now, I am in an independent study for my administrative science minor (the department has since been renamed managerial economics). For my independent study, I am essentially creating both the formal business plan and the Kickstarter campaign for my family’s jam business, Bleuberet. The great thing about this is that it is not just a giant research paper that may have no bearing on the real world. I am actually creating a tangible deliverable for a/our family business.

Because I am taking this independent study for four credits as one whole class, my final requirement is a 40 page paper. It will encompass the business plan as a whole, a strong focus on an overall marketing plan, a specific Kickstarter plan to be run in the next few months and financial projections.

Every few weeks this semester I have met with my professor to discuss what I am working on. This has meant creating an outline or template for a specific part of the plan in some cases, or developing a Powerpoint deck of the capital expenditures the company needs to raise money for through a Kickstarter campaign.

While the project is essentially as simply formatted as it sounds, it is not something for those who want to take a break. Yes, I do not have formal class time or any grades due throughout the semester. However, there is a 40 page paper looming. You have to have done your research, compiled your data, and have a strong idea of how you will fill 40 pages – because that is a lot of pages. Of course, if you take a third class and an IS, you can always make the class worth 1 or 2 or 3 credits, in which case the paper will not be as lengthy. As it is essentially designed by the student for the student, you can essentially do whatever you’d like within the guidelines. It’s a pretty cool transition from the classroom to the real world.

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Independent Studies

A great little secret to finishing your major at Colby is taking or creating an independent study. As the school is small, the faculty for each major is also fairly concentrated. While the professors are great, they only have so much time to teach certain classes. Most of the time, they’re either interesting to you, or they are required to finish the major.

What if you’ve finished your requirements, but not your major or minor, and you’re looking for something a little bit outside of the range of what’s being offered in a given semester? Take an independent study. It’s certainly a bit harder than just signing up for a class. You have to be interested enough in a topic to bring it to a professor and create a class out of it. You also have to know what you’re getting into. First, you need to convince your professor that your topic is intriguing enough to you and relevant enough to them to happen. Then, you need submit a request to the registrar for an independent study.

The absurd thing about this is that you have approximately 250 characters or something of the like to explain your independent study. That’s characters. Not words. For the independent study that I’m in now I thought it was 250 words. I made sure to write a concise essay hitting all the points I would cover in my independent study. When I copy/pasted it into the submission box, only two sentences copied over. What I thought was already pretty concise became a serious exercise in reduction. Luckily, I passed through the submission gates and was allowed to do the independent study this spring.

Next time, I’ll take you inside the actual specifics of the independent study.

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Time for Football Class

This semester I’m taking a course called “The Cultural Work of American Football.” Most of the students in the class are avid football enthusiasts. They watch the game regularly, understand the rules, and know most major team players. However, there is one student that is not that into football and honestly just doesn’t get what the hype is all about. And that student would be me. (Sorry, dad.)

So why did I even take this class? To bring my confused and dazed opinions of the game to the table?

No – I took this class to try to understand why football is the most popular sport in America. Why is the Super Bowl such a big deal? Why are football players celebrated like heroes? How did football take over baseball as the most watched sport?

So far, the class is awesome. We talk a lot about the growth of football through rule changes, media, coaching styles, and race dynamics. We explore the way that football has constructed a certain type of masculinity and femininity. We discuss the ways in which box seating, mascots, cheerleaders, ESPN, and stadiums have all changed the game into one of entertainment. We question how the violence that is displayed in football is accepted and cheered on only in the context of the game.

We’ve watched two movies: Any Given Sunday and Brian’s Song. We’ve read two books: Brand NFL and Out of Their League. We’ve read countless articles from sources like sociology journals and Forbes. We’ve viewed multiple YouTube clips.

Through this class, I’m slowly starting to understand more about the power and attractiveness of football. I don’t think that I will rushing out to buy a Tom Brady jersey anytime soon, but I might just watch more than the commercials at next years Super Bowl … (baby steps).

About Meg

Before moving to "The Hill," I grew up in the quiet farm town of Princeton, Mass. Whether I'm making a brownie sundae at Dana, running through the streets of Waterville, or sunbathing with friends on the quad, I love everything about Colby, but some of my favorites are the flatbread pizzas at Bobs, yoga classes at the athletic center, and Miller Library's comfortable chairs. I spend time running track, visiting my CCAK buddy, and writing for insideColby.
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The Quote Index

Since we’re on the self-improvement grind this week, I figure I can go into another way I’m trying to do some cool stuff. First, I must digress, so I can regress back into what I’ll be talking about. This summer, I started listening to Tim Ferriss podcasts. He is the author of the 4-Hour books you may have heard of before. After listening to these podcasts, I realized he’s a pretty smart and pretty well connected dude. Today, I’ll be focusing on one thing in specific I learned from him that I have started to try and implement.

If you read yesterday’s post, you’ll know I’m attempting to read 30-50 pages in a book per day. It can get pretty tough, so I find myself switching between 3 books. But how do I keep track of all the knowledge I’m learning if I’m switching between books day to day or hour to hour you might ask. Well, that’s where Tim Ferriss comes in. He is according to himself, an avid journal-er and note taker. While I’m not taking in-depth notes on everything I read about, I purchased a little journal at Wal-mart for $0.88 the other day and write in quotes or paraphrase quotes that I find interesting or extremely resonating. I have a little index in the back of the book so I can decipher where each quote has come from and what pages different books are quoted on. I have an acronym for each book that I list next to the quote throughout the journal and if I ever forget what book it’s from I can just go to the back. If I’m lucky, some of the knowledge will sink in. If I’m not, then I guess I have a resource I can go back and look at now. Thanks Tim!

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No class today! Welcome to Maine~

First time since January 9, 1998, Colby will be closed because of the weather. Though I’m pretty happy about not having class today and have a break after 2 hours of basketball yesterday, I do want to go and watch Selma.

Our class is supposed to go and watch Selma together at 2:30pm. However, because of the weather, it’s cancelled :( For the class discussion, I even prepared 6 questions for the film, Selma. Nevermind, I’m sure I will go and watch it during weekends!!

The photo attached is the view of my room. I didn’t close the window, so I could actually feel the strong wind and snow splashed on my face.  I immediately close the window.

I wish I could take a better photo of the snow and the wind, but I’m too lazy and too scared of walking out of Hillside. My neighbours went for breakfast this morning, and they said it was horrible. Haha, I guess I’d better stay indoor for the whole day today!

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Mindfulness Retreat

Boy am I giddy! My mindfulness and meditation class is wrapping up this coming week and we are “going on a retreat.” Mind you, a real retreat would have us at a zendo in the country – or maybe even city – side, but we are going to make due with the Rose Chapel to the side of the church/chapel on campus. Can’t complain, although I’m a little worried. Doing anything for seven hours is a stretch, especially being mindful and/or attempting to meditate on everything I do, including eating my lunch in silence. (Cold anandama bagels with vegetable cream cheese is as emotionally damaging as watching bugs die on your windshield).

Our schedule is basically as follows: We arrive at our normal time on Monday at 9 am and then we leave at 4 pm. Between then, we are integrating everything we have learned over Jan Plan, will eat a mindful lunch in silence, and will go for a mindful walk in the arboretum. Beyond that, I have no idea what lies in wait.

While the voice in my head is pretty against doing this, I know that it’s the exact same voice that tells me to not run another sprint, to not take another hour to study. It’s the voice that looks for comfort, but I’m hoping that doing something like this will make meditating and being mindful on my own a little easier. The longer and harder something is, the easier it makes smaller things, or some generalization like that. Either way, guess we’ll see what happens.

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A Little Informal Meditation

At this point, I suppose an update on how my Jan Plan class, Mindfulness and Meditation, is going is not only wanted, but needed. For this post, I’m going to focus on the meditation half of mindfulness, but of course, they are somewhat one in the same. But, I diverge – today we shall talk of informal meditation. Perhaps you have an idea of meditation. You can imagine what it entails and a vague notion of what you’re supposed to do. You might imagine some yogi, guru or zen master sitting in a full lotus position, free from all troubles in the world. You wouldn’t be entirely wrong, but you also wouldn’t be entirely right. That notion would be of sitting meditation which is formal and pretty much all that I had done up to taking this class.

But there is also informal meditation, which seeks to bring the practice of meditation from sitting cross-legged out into the world. Learning about this was great because prior to the clas I thought I could only really meditate while sitting on a meditation cushion and pad (zafu and zabuton). The second I left the cushion, I would be back into thinking my thoughts and making judgements about everything. With informal meditation though, I can now find a way to break through those thoughts and find a meditation in most moments of the day.

There are a couple great ways to do this, but the one our class was introduced to on the first day is my favorite informal meditation. We sit and drink a cup of tea. During this time we slowly sip some hot tea, look at the cup, inhale its smells, feel the heat of the cup on our hands and seek to truly enjoy drinking a cup of tea for all that it is. I think it is the process of making an everyday thing that we usually take for granted and turning it into a ritual that makes it profoundly enjoyable.

But it doesn’t have to be a cup of tea. It can be eating a meal in silence or walking to and from the library. And now for my plug of Colby College – walking around in silence, the campus becomes beautiful for its trees, the geometry of its buildings and the memories that each area evokes over my four years here. I know it sounds corny, but I think we could all use a little informal meditation to actually appreciate what is around us on this campus, even when it feels like the tundra.

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