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Ten Commandments for First-time Students at Southwestern

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    President Schrum speaks to members of the Class of 2013 during Matriculation Convocation

President Schrum offered this advice to first-year students at the 2009 Matriculation Convocation held Aug. 16.

THE FIRST COMMANDMENT

Thou shalt not believe in false Gods. Translated, that means Google and Wikipedia are not substitutes for the University library. The staff of the A. Frank Smith, Jr. Library Center is well prepared and uncommonly competent. Each is ready and willing to help you access the world’s knowledge … not only through your fingertips, but also by making many of those resources available for you to actually hold in your hand. But don’t take my word for it, check it out for yourself.

THE SECOND COMMANDMENT

Remember class attendance. And keep it holy. Attending class is the first step in a successful college experience. It is your way of assuring your professors that you care about the subject and want to learn. Even if you don’t care, attend class.

THE THIRD COMMANDMENT

Thou shalt not murder the English language. Your ability to write and speak well is absolutely critical to your success in college as well as your ability to communicate in a world driven by new information desperate for those who can understand and explain this information. Never apologize for being able to parse a sentence.

THE FOURTH COMMANDMENT

Thou shalt respect the worth and dignity of everyone around you. A great college experience encourages each of us to explore new ideas, meet new people, discover new ways of thinking. If we strive to learn from those who are different from us our own world will become larger and more inviting.

THE FIFTH COMMANDMENT

Don’t commit a dull me. That’s right − a dull me. There are almost 100 organizations, close to 40 majors, and many other interesting learning options that will make your experience here rich with meaning. You have no excuse to fall into a dull and lackadaisical routine. Check out the resources of this splendid university. Start your own organization – don’t be a dull me.

THE SIXTH COMMANDMENT

Thou shalt not study in vain. Prepare for class, read the book, practice the piece of music, and spend time in the laboratory. Do the research, follow a line of thinking and dig as deeply as you can. Studying a subject is the reason you came to college.

THE SEVENTH COMMANDMENT

Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s major. Follow your own path, respond to your own dreams. Be open to new possibilities. That’s the beauty of a rich liberal arts education.

THE EIGHTH COMMANDMENT

Thou shalt not steal the ideas of others. Do your own work. Give attribution when you use the ideas of others. Our honor code is very important to us as you will soon learn.

THE NINTH COMMANDMENT

Honor your father and your mother or anyone else who loves you and is helping to make this marvelous opportunity possible. The best way to honor them is to make the most of this experience, and to finish in four years.

THE TENTH COMMANDMENT

Thou shalt not take yourself too seriously. Give yourself a break, have some fun, relax, reflect. This may be the only time you can do this for the rest of your life. I hope your experience at Southwestern is one of the best and most rewarding of your entire life.