What is it like to be a new student at Collegiate? Is it hard to be new? Anyone familiar with Collegiate will tell you that it has most students return from previous years. And when we see names being called at graduation each year, many students are famously recognized as “Lifers”—students who attend Collegiate from Kindergarten through 12th grade. So what is it like to be new? Is it hard to adjust to this kind of social and academic atmosphere?
To gain some insight on this question, I interviewed Will Pohlmann. Will is new to the junior class in the Collegiate Upper School. The transition to Collegiate can potentially be a very challenging experience, depending on where you come from and what your previous school was like. Will moved to Richmond from Seattle, Washington, which is about as far across the country a student can move. And, although he lived there for seven years, he was born in Michigan. After spending his very earliest life in Michigan, Will moved to south to Missouri, and from there he moved to Seattle. He spent his last seven years in the hometown of the Seahawks. Will came to Collegiate after being at the Seattle Preparatory School.
New students at Collegiate find various challenges. “The transition was difficult at first, telling people that I was moving was the hardest part. One thing that I liked was that I kind of had the whole summer free, so I spent that time on practicing lacrosse,” Will said. He made the move to Richmond because his father transferred locations, taking a new a job in strategy for SunTrust. As expected, Richmond is different from his old home. The area is far away from his previous homes and even regular details, such as the weather, are noticeable factors of change. “My house is bigger and it is much more humid and hot here.” Comparing Richmond to the frigid winters of Michigan and the rainy days of the Pacific Northwest, this does not come as a surprise.
On top of moving across the nation and adjusting to a new part of the country, Will also had to adjust to a new high school itself. Collegiate does not differ too much from his previous school. “Collegiate is not much different than my other school, in the sense that people are very accepting and welcoming. The only challenges that I have had are adapting to different teaching styles and creating new study habits.” These are common challenges for students at most new schools, even if they have been at other strong academic schools. Students who have been at Collegiate can find difficulties in this area when having to adjust to new teachers and their styles. Will said that Collegiate is similar to his old school in Seattle. “Collegiate is basically the same as my other school, but without the Christian aspect at my other school.”
One area that Will loves about Collegiate is the athletics. “My favorite part about Collegiate is that we have to do at least two sports. If this wasn’t forced on me, I would not have tried out for soccer and had the bond of a team,” he said. Being on the soccer team is a good way for Will to have met some students and get an initial impression of the athletic side of school life. “The other different thing is that Collegiate has a large athletic facility, while my school only had about two fields to practice on.” Being on the soccer team, he has the ability to practice at the Robins campus, which provides many fields and practice space. When asked about the other sports he plays he said, “My main sport is lacrosse, and I plan to try out for the team. I might also run track.”
After about his first month and a half at Collegiate, Will Pohlmann is starting to feel well-adjusted and is settling in. “I do feel well-adjusted, but I might find some kinks that I will have to work out.” That is to be expected for anyone, whether you or new or not.