As they arrived on the sunny summer morning of Aug. 23, the 579 newest Connecticut College students—including 561 first-years, 17 transfers and one RTC student—were greeted by cheering student leaders, colorful signs and a campus eager to welcome the latest herd of Camels in Conn’s 112 years.
Members of this impressive group hail from 33 states and 29 countries. Sixty-eight members of the incoming class are the first in their families to go to college, while 27 are at least the second members of their families to attend Conn.
The Class of 2027 is also among the most diverse in the College’s history; 24% are domestic students of color and 5% are international students.
The first order of business for many on Wednesday was to unload blankets, mini-fridges and other dorm-room comforts and school supplies from cars, trucks and minivans bearing an array of license plates and loved ones.
In the afternoon, beach balls and music filled the air before a New Student Welcome gathering hosted on Tempel Green by Associate Dean of Campus Life Geoff Norbert and Dean of First-Year Students Emily Morash, who is also the associate dean of the College. The deans gave students an overview of the Welcome Weekend orientation program and offered words of encouragement.
Norbert said he wanted the new Camels to step outside of their comfort zone and noted many had already done so just by coming to Conn. “Engage with difference. Some of you are from outside of Boston, some of you are from California, some of you are from Bangladesh,” he pointed out. “This is an opportunity for you to meet and learn from different people.”
He added, “Everybody’s in the same boat. Everybody’s nervous. Everyone’s a little scared. Everyone’s a little excited. But we will do this together.”
Morash encouraged students to advocate for themselves. “Ask questions, and don’t be afraid to ask for help,” she said. “We have lots and lots of resources and support on this campus. We’ve just spent many days training our student advisers, so they know every resource on this campus and they’re ready to be there for you.”
Late in the afternoon at the President’s Assembly—the final event students and their families attended together before parting ways—Dean of the College Erika Smith told the students, “College is a time when you’re finding your own path, your own journey, and continuing to differentiate yourself as your own person. Our Admission team saw all of the strengths, attributes and gifts that you bring to the communities of which you have been part, and they made the excellent decision to have you contribute those talents here.”
She added, “We’ll always remind you of your greatness and we’ll always do all we can to support your success.”
Bella Castellanos Palacios ’25, president of the Student Government Association, encouraged the new students to cherish their time as Camels, be open-minded, try new things, go to club meetings and explore.
“Allow yourself to grow and don’t underestimate yourself,” she said. “You will find yourself surrounded by peers who will cheer you on, dream alongside you and create lifelong memories. Together, you will prosper and make this campus yours in your own ways.”
She added, “Just as I have found a family here, you will, too, I can assure you of that. Not just with your peers, but also with the staff and faculty.”
Lastly, Interim President Les Wong approached the podium and acknowledged the efforts of parents, grandparents and other supporters before getting down to business.
“Teaching and learning is the purpose of higher education, and you will find no better place to experience that than here at Connecticut College. Here at Conn, everyone teaches, everyone learns. Students, you are not just a receiver of this experience. At Conn, you are our partner in creating, participating and guiding the teaching and learning here at this college,” he said.
“You will be guided by an excellent faculty, supported by excellent staff, and cheered on by family and friends. But inevitably, how you fashion and co-create your experience is central to our efforts and critical to your education. You are at the center of your own learning.”
He concluded, “Engage ideas and people who are different from you, new to you, have something to offer you. Make it an annual goal to learn something you know nothing about. You’ll find that there is someone to know, something to learn, that will excite you. That is passion, and passion driven by curiosity is power. And that’s a college education.”
Over the next several days, the new students will learn more about the College’s signature Connections program, meet with their team of advisers, register for classes, and get to know each other and the College’s faculty and staff.
The extended Welcome Weekend will culminate Monday, Aug. 28, with the 109th Convocation, a celebration of the opening of the academic year. Associate Professor of Film Studies Nina Martin, winner of the 2023 John S. King Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching, will deliver the keynote address, “Survival Tips from Final Girls.”