When I came to Wheaton, I expected it to be another four years of my high school experience. Now don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed high school, but I wanted college to be a new chapter of my life, not the rereading of an old one. During my senior year, I tried to stay away from any Christian college. I was headed straight for the most academically rigorous school out there, and I didn’t think a Christian school could give me the level of education I wanted.
At least, not until I came to Wheaton. When I visited, I became completely convinced that I could get a great Christian education. However, it wasn’t until I actually began to live here that I realized the value of the Wheaton community. In students, professors, everyone, the love of Christ shines brightly. If someone had told me that I would find a second family—most of which were within five years of my age—during the first year I came to Wheaton, I would have thought they were joking, but God provided.
As I began to grow in this community, I increasingly found quirky and idiosyncratic things about this place. I started to post and number the funniest, weirdest, and most impactful ones on Facebook as my very own Wheatonisms. Here are a few examples:
Wheatonism #4: “integration of faith and learning”
If you ever come to Wheaton, you’ll hear this over and over again, and thankfully, the professors mean it. I haven’t had a class yet in which the professor hasn’t connected the discipline with the Bible.
Wheatonism #10: People dress as Bible characters for Halloween
Abraham. Isaac. Jacob. Not to mention Jesus…
Wheatonism #11: Chicken Finger Day in SAGA (Anderson Commons)
Chicken fingers come around once or twice a semester in the dining room, and trust me, you won’t understand until it happens. At home, I don’t even like chicken fingers. But here, it’s not just food; it’s part of the culture.
Wheatonism #19: Floating
Okay, so first, you craft a root beer float using two straws, then you find a couple that looks like they might be on a first date. (Bonus points if at least one of them is a close friend!) You walk up to the table sneakily, and put the float between them. Let the awkwardness begin!
Wheatonism #24: Professors Care
One of your profs begins to tear up as he says, "If anything I have taught you has been of Christ, hold on to it. If anything I have taught has not been of Christ, I pray that God would cast it away from you. At the end of the day, I hope you saw Christ, not me, in this class." Needless to say, there was a rush of applause at the end of that day, for we did see Christ in that room, every day we were in it. However, it was not merely the level of respect for God's word and honest search for its understanding which won our hearts and ears, but also the care for the lives of each and every one of his 100+ students, shown partly by the fact that he knew ALL of our names.
So all in all, my freshman year a Wheaton has been great so far! I can’t wait to see what the rest of the year brings. But a piece of advice to all of you prospective students out there: If you want to find a place where people search for God wholeheartedly, love each other in community, and seek for knowledge deeply, come to Wheaton. That’s who we are.
College is likely the only time in life where you will get the chance to live with thirty other people, the same age, on the same floor. During my freshman year, I was placed on the fourth floor of Traber dorm, or in Wheaton dialect, T4. I had the chance to meet, as well as hang out with guys I might not have otherwise known had I attended a commuter campus near my home.
I was randomly placed with a roommate, and I can honestly say that within minutes I was so thankful for the random placement. My roommate has become one of my closest friends and we are rooming together again for our sophomore year. Coming from a family with only sisters, living with another guy was a change for me but an awesome experience. By sharing a room we quickly learned about each other, our interests, life stories, and we also grew together in our Christian faith through our involvement in a Discipleship Small Group (DSG). It was comforting to know that I was not alone in this new transition in life and that all these guys I was living next to were in the same situation. It was so much fun having a constant influx of guys coming into my room to talk to my roommate and me. Instead of texting friends to ask how life was going we could simply walk into their room and ask them in person.
Another highlight of my freshman dorm experience was the Bro-Sis activities that are created throughout the year. Beginning in the middle of welcome week, brother and sister floors are paired up. This gives you an easy opportunity to meet girls or vice versa and allows you to form quick friendships with one another. Many of these activities are also what become highlights during freshman year including raids (one floor having a party in the middle of the night for another floor), meals together, movie nights, etc.
We all chose Wheaton for various reasons important to us, including family history, Christian influence, academic reputation and the hope of lifelong relationships. But the opportunity to live and become brothers and sisters with those who only a year ago were perfect strangers is a gift that only comes from living in community together. Regardless of what initially attracted us to Wheaton, the benefits of experiencing life together refines us into individuals that God will use to influence the world.
Being a freshman at any college is an exciting step in your life, but there are also many questions to be answered. Am I going to like my roommate? Are the other students going to be nice? Will I like my classes? For the freshman arriving on campus, these questions are likely the same. However, only a month into the first semester and the feel has completely changed.
For Hannah Hacker `17, when thinking of her first month at Wheaton the words, “Supportive, alive, and challenging” came to mind. As one freshman student said, “the campus atmosphere is friendly, tight-knit, and faith-based.” It doesn’t get much better than that! Wheaton is unlike any other school when it comes to welcoming in the new class of students.
My first week at Wheaton was a roller coaster ride for me. I was both unsure about being in a new place, but also excited to meet new people and find out what it’s like to be a part of the Wheaton community. The stereotypical idea of freshmen in our culture is that they are the young, naïve students, looked down upon in high schools and colleges. It was not until I had arrived at Wheaton that I would have ever imagined hearing the chant, “We love freshman!” as I walked through campus. The moment I heard all the upper class students yelling it repeatedly was the instant I knew that Wheaton was different from all other schools. These students were not only welcoming the new class, they were excited to have this new group of students on campus. Now as a sophomore, I have the opportunity to be a part of this welcoming cheer echoing throughout the first all-school communion.
Besides getting into the groove of classes the freshman have been jumping right into numerous activities that include, eating in downtown Wheaton, going to Chicago, studying with friends at the Stupe, our campus grill, as well as Bro-Sis activities with their dorm floors. In past years Wheaton has created an exceptional orientation week that has become popular among the incoming students. Multiple freshman students noted that they loved the freshman night of worship during this welcome week. It is such an indescribable feeling having the opportunity to worship for the first time with other students. Knowing that the people in your class share the same faith as you is a reassuring feeling, especially in a new life setting. The best part is that this feeling continues throughout your time at Wheaton. During all school chapel, all school communion, and class worship nights you have the chance to worship side by side with your peers. I know that I will be thankful for this opportunity for the rest of my life.
Check out these highlights from Orientation!
New Student Orientation from Wheaton College on Vimeo.