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Welcome to the Taylor experience

Expect to be surprised

By Andrew Hoff | Echo

I remember the morning I arrived on campus as if it were yesterday. I remember shaking the hands of my Personnel Assistants (PAs) and watching from the window as my parents left for home. I remember that in the midst of fast-paced Welcome Weekend activities, my roommate and I still found time to rearrange our dorm room. I’m delighted that so many of you get to have those experiences as well.

Packing for college is an unforgettable experience.

If you have not heard the phrase yet, you will. The Taylor “experience.” First year “experience.” College is an “experience.” When I arrived as a freshman, those words produced subconscious images of a darkened Rediger Chapel, lively classroom discussions, working in residence life and much more. Those words probably evoke some imagery for you as well. Expectations are what make move-in day so exciting. Some of my subconscious expectations have even made their way into reality — I was able to serve in residence life for two years.

As you move to campus for the first time, I want you to hear this. Having expectations is exhilarating, but sometimes we project our expectations onto an experience, and as a result we force our experience into parameters. Avoid that. The Taylor experience does not refer to some abstract, singular description of what it means to be a Taylor student. No one gets the same Taylor experience, and that’s okay. It’s better that way.

When I arrived, I expected that chapel would be the highlight of my week. For some students, it is, and that is great. However, I was personally surprised to find that doing my homework in the Campus Center at 2 a.m. feels like a more spiritual experience. As I look at both of these experiences, I have become convinced that neither experience is more or less “Taylor.”

Make no mistake, you can have both. You could have it all. It’s a matter of the moments that define your experience.

Whether you meet your future spouse your first week on campus — be careful not to take part in the freshmen frenzy — or you remain single past the graduation stage, hear this. You haven’t missed out on any part of the Taylor experience. That’s because there isn’t some set of things that fall under the phrase, “the Taylor experience.” You can breathe.

For some, the Taylor experience is highlighted by spontaneous worship evenings. For some, it’s found in a library study room. For some, it’s chatting in the Office of Intercultural Programs (OIP) office, and for others, it’s gaming until you regret not sleeping. Each of these are spiritual moments, and none of them fully embody what it means to be a Taylor student. You get to choose that for yourself.

Truth, goodness and beauty exist in every person’s loves, and your loves should not be defined by what you expect they should be. You will find meaningful moments where you do not expect them. Expect to be surprised. You are a part of the Taylor community. Welcome to campus.

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