Freshman Half: The Science of Making Life Better

 First year student, Mimi Thompson '21, sharing during an activity.
First year student, Mimi Thompson ’21, sharing during an activity.

Linnea Uyeno ’20  

One of the most impactful experiences before students officially begin their first semester at CMC is the Welcome Orientation Adventures. Now, freshman have a second opportunity to reshape their CMC experience and identity through KLI’s Freshman Half Retreat. This year, KLI took students up into the frozen Pali mountains to learn about the “Science of Living a Happier Life”. It is far too common that second semester freshman feel disillusioned returning to college from winter break.Through the Freshman Half Retreat, freshman were able to gain the skills, mindset, and community to tackle second semester and prepare them for the rest of their college journey.

The KLI programs team designed the retreat to integrate specific skill sets such as strategies for time management and resilience with fun community building games. Through improv and creative exercises, freshman conquered their fears of failure and social anxiety.

“My favorite activity was centered around indicating stressors in our social and academic lives, and then doing fun improv skits to see the different ways to tackle the problem,” said Mimi Thompson ’21.

Additionally, the retreat also taught students how to genuinely connect to their classmates.

“Freshman Half taught me that happiness comes from being brave enough to be vulnerable. I know that being open to people can be challenging, but now I realize that genuine relationships are essential to happiness,” said Carly Truscott ’21.

Most importantly, the retreat helped freshman to envision where they wanted to take their college experience and to define their passions and purpose. In small groups, students had time to unpack feelings and talk about their hopes, goals, and dreams for the future. It gave the freshman the space and environment to write down and truly reflect about their passions away from the social constraints of CMC.

The Freshman Half bridged the gap in support systems, and gave freshman the ability to return to CMC with confidence.

“The KLI Freshman Half retreat helped me to feel more prepared to effectively tackle the issues that I will face in college. I now have the tools to better manage my time, focus my priorities, and care for my mental health,” said Elena Castellanos ’21.

At the end of the two day retreat, freshman left the experience feeling empowered and excited for the future.

“It was a motivating experience, which made me want to get back to CMC and put it into practice,” said Caitlyn Louzado ’21.

The campfire had burned out, but something special had been kindled during the retreat. There was a sort of inertia that filled the air with passion and compassion.