Category Archives: Offices & Resources

SkidMolly: Skidmore Facilities Facts

Hey hey hey!  First of all, if you’re in Skidmore territory for any of the Accepted Candidates Days this coming week, welcome!  Like the breakfast in Mulan, we’re happy to see you!

Here are some quick facts about the facilities here at Skidmore:

  • There are up-to-date elliptical machines and treadmills in the gym, as well as flat-screen televisions perfect for catching up on Bravo reality shows as you do your cardio.  Plus, the Williamson Sports Center has raquetball courts, a six-lane swimming pool, nine tennis courts (four of them lighted) and a human performance lab for Exercise Science majors.
  • Dana Science Center hosts a microscopy imaging center and an astrophysics lab — both are useless to me as an English major, but very useful for people studying biology and physics.
  • The art studio, Saisselin (I never learned how to pronounce that one, sadly) includes a built-in art gallery, a metals shop, a bunch of weaving looms for textiles design, and an animation studio with Linux workstations.  Five Skidmore alums worked on the movie Ice Age, so that animation studio came in handy, right?
  • The dining hall (Murray-Aikens) has a special test kitchen meant for chefs to prepare food for students with allergies or special needs, plus students can reserve the test kitchen so they can cook for themselves.
  • The JKB Theater seats almost 400 people, and the blackbox theater seats between 80 and 100 people.
  • Our basically brand-new music center, Zankel, has 54,000 square feet of teaching, practice, administrative and performance space.    There’s even an amphitheater just outside the building where students hold acoustic concerts.

The Skidmore facilities look shiny and nice, but they’re also resources for you to use, just about whenever you want to.  It’s nice to go to school at a place where we aren’t lacking much, and where we have the means to accomplish whatever we can imagine, whether that’s a laser light show to accompany a senior music recital, or a super complex biology research project, or a student-written theater performance with music and video components, or a 5K run to support charities in Saratoga.  The facilities at Skidmore definitely support the idea that creative thought matters — come visit and check them out for yourself.

SkidMolly: Five Reasons to Apply to Skidmore

Holy cow, regular decision and ED II applications are due in a mere two days.  This post can serve as either a well-deserved break/distraction from putting the finishing touches on your app, or as a final kick in the pants for you to decide if you’re applying to Skid.  Without further ado, may I present five reasons to apply to Skidmore that actually pertain to you and your current mindset about school.  These reasons don’t have much to do with the academics at Skidmore (hopefully you already know the academics are stellar!) but they do cover the slightly less academic factors that make Skid an application-worthy college.

1. Saratoga Springs: the cutest town you’ll ever meet . Quick overview of why Saratoga Springs is the ultimate college town: it’s beautiful and quaint, it has nice and relatively inexpensive cafés wherein one can drink Americanos and eat bagels and lox, the bar scene is unbelievable for those who are legal, you’re close to Saratoga Lake, Lake George and the Hudson River, it doesn’t die in the summertime (that’s when the race track opens and both the NYC Ballet and the Philadelphia Philharmonic come to SPAC), and boredom is generally not a problem.

Me and a few friends at the Hudson this past summer. 'Tis a 20-minute drive from Skid, and 'tis refreshing indeed.

2. Resources: for people who like resources. Skidmore takes care of you in a way that is impossible at larger, more anonymous schools.  If you catch swine flu, you head to Health Services.  If life is not going well, you can talk to someone at the Counseling Center.  If Organic Chemistry is killing you, you can snag a tutor at Student Academic Services.  One of the first things I noticed upon arriving at Skidmore is that no one wants you to fail.  It’s a great environment because you learn how to be independent and how to ask for help at the same time.

3. The FYE: a boon for frightened freshmen. Ah, the First Year Experience.  Skidmore doesn’t say “whazzup?!?” to their first-year students and then send them to the wolves; the FYE provides a support system that happens to be really good at getting freshmen to assimilate into the college environment.  All first-years take a Scribner Seminar (click here for this past semesters’ cool course offerings) and are housed with their seminar classmates (instant community! instant way of finding someone to eat with!); the seminar itself combines interesting academic topics (crime fiction! Italian food!) with advising from professors and upperclassmen peer mentors, plus an introduction to all of the resources Skidmore offers (the library! the Writing Center!).  The FYE does not coddle you, but it does make you feel warm and fuzzy during the scary time of transitioning to college life.

That's my Scribner Seminar during First-Year Orientation! We had just painted that chair. I'm third from the left -- why so shy, Molly?

4. Chicken Finger Friday: lunch is truly served. Every Friday.  In the dining hall.  11 am to 4 pm.  Chicken fingers.  Veggie chicken nuggets for the groovy vegetarians.  It’s a bacchanal of golden, deep-fried, sauce-dipped, crispy chicken goodness.  I know i’s weird to tell you to apply for the chicken fingers alone, but…seriously.  They are that good.

5. Nocturnal events: good luck even trying to be bored.  Your nights, when not occupied by work or late classes, will be stuffed with such a ridiculous amount of concerts, theater and dance performances, a cappella jams, comedy shows, student bands, open mic nights, lectures, readings, panel discussions, fashion shows, cultural gatherings, apartment shindigs, off-campus parties and other assorted events that you will literally not know what to do with yourself.  If anyone at Skidmore can find a single night devoid of things to do, I will buy them a very large Plum Dandy fro-yo sundae.  This college keeps you busy…be prepared.

That’ll do it: five non-academic reasons to apply to Skidmore. If you already know that Skid’s business major is fab, or that the theatre program is right for you, perhaps one of this reasons will sway you.  Personally, I feel Chicken Finger Friday would sway anyone with a pulse and a set of working taste buds.

SkidMolly: Surviving Tripledom

I’m not a huge fan of the oft-dubious Princeton Review lists, but Skidmore has received their “Dorms Like Palaces” honor a few times, and rightfully so.  The double-occupancy rooms at Skidmore are luxuriously portioned in comparison to those at other colleges I’ve visited.  Sizeable closets, carpeted floors (no cold feet) and window seats with comfy, spongy cushions are all Skidmore dorm amenities.  (Room service and minibar not included).

And these days, Res Life puts the extra space in our res halls to good use — double rooms are usually triple rooms for first-year students.  A majority of the class of ’12 was placed in triples freshman year, and that has increased in the past couple of years.  I was in a triple and our room ended up de-tripling near the end of the first semester; because my room situation was an epic fail, hindsight has given me a few ideas for succeeding in tripledom.

ACCEPT YO’ FATE.  Excessive complaining about being placed in a triple — “Awww, dang! This sucks!” being one example — or referring to your newfound housing situation as a “forced triple” will not magically spirit you away from tripledom and toward a suite in the Waldorf.  Not to sound all New Age/Oprah/Dr. Phil, but positivity is a good tool for learning to deal with being in a triple.  Don’t think of it as a prison sentence — consider it an easy-to-overcome inconvenience, a little pothole on the road to college awesomeness.  Plus, there are monetary incentives for staying in a triple; this past semester, those assigned to triples received $200 on their Skid Card and an extra $300 tuition credit if they stayed in a triple past October 15th, and that incentive will be repeated this semester.  $200 goes a long way toward large coffees and multiple laundry cycles.

ACCOMMODATE.  The worst attitude to have is this: “Being in a triple is annoying.  I don’t care about my roommates at all, and I’m going to live life exactly the way I want to.  Everyone else can kiss my tush.”  Remember that you will be living with two other people, both of whom have needs and desires and habits and requirements.  One person will want to Skype with their significant other at 3am; another will need extra sleep because they have crew practice early in the morning.  Someone will have a peanut allergy; someone else will show up to school with an economy-size jar of Skippy.  This is how life works.  Compromise is very, very necessary.  Which leads to…

COMMUNICATE.  This amalgamation of needs can’t be addressed unless people express those needs!  That guy who’s allergic to peanuts has to speak up to his roommate, lest he face a horrible Death By PB & J.  Talk to your roommates.  It’s the quickest way to find out how to fix things.

RELATE. Your roommates will probably be different from you in some way.  Maybe they’re from the opposite side of the country, or from another country entirely.  Triples have a way of bringing science geeks and theater freaks and philosophy nerds all together in one small space, so embrace those weird combinations.  You don’t have to be best friends with your roommates — sometimes it’s better if you aren’t — but take the time to hang out with them outside of the room.  It’s easy to bond over a plate of fries from the Spa.

In the words of Blue Öyster Cult, don’t fear the reaper triple.  If anything, living in a triple is a learning experience: I discovered a lot about myself and even more about human nature, plus I got that sweet t-shirt pictured above.  It’s a scientific fact that free t-shirts make everything better.

Have questions about the logistics of living situations? Ask away, my dears.  Good luck to everybody applying ED II and Regular Decision — apps are due in nine days!

How Was…Studying Abroad in Prague?

Okay.  I know.  Right now you’re not thinking about studying abroad; you probably aren’t even thinking about studying period.  You just want to figure out where you’re going to be next year, right?  Bear with me.  You might not realize it now, but by the time your junior year of college rolls around, you might get a hankering to take classes somewhere a bit warmer, like Peru, or perhaps somewhere colder, like Russia, or even somewhere with toilets that flush counter-clockwise, like Australia.  (Just kidding, that myth ain’t true.)  Studying abroad may seem absurdly hypothetical at the moment, but who knows — you might already be hankering to take classes somewhere a bit exotic.

I studied in Prague last spring (soon it will be a year since my plane took off for the Czech Republic) and, to use a very hackneyed expression, it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life.  Skidmore offers direct programs in six cities (Paris, Beijing, Shanghai, Madrid, London and Alcalá) as well as 128 approved programs through other schools and institutions.  You can study in the fall, the spring or the summer; Skidmore also offers travel seminars (there’s a cool-looking textiles course this summer in Kyoto) and domestic university exchanges, as well as the London First Year Experience.  Does this sound like a lot?  It is.  Ideally there’s some sort of study abroad experience for everyone.  After all, almost 60% of the class of ’11 studied abroad.

I still don’t know why I chose to study in Prague.  I’m a French minor and Paris seemed like the obvious choice, but something about Prague was calling to me, sort of the same way Skidmore was calling to me when I was choosing a college.  I met with one of the associate directors at the Off-Campus Study & Exchanges office and told her what I was looking for in a program: independence, the opportunity to learn a new language, cultural immersion, and some sort of creative writing component.  She suggested SIT (School for International Training), which has a program in Prague called Arts and Social Change, all about how the political and social climate of the Czech Republic has intersected with the arts over the past century.

I had no idea what to expect when I got to Prague, which as it turns out was the best possible mental state for entering a new country.  Over the course of four months, SIT provided me with a zillion opportunities to consume (often literally) Czech culture.  I drank a lot of beer (“pivo,” in Czech) — the Czech Republic has the highest beer consumption per capita in the world.  I read Kafka novels and Vaclav Havel plays (RIP, Vaclav) and discussed them with the other fourteen students in my program.  I lived with a host family in the suburb of Roztoky and took the bus every day into Prague.  I ate smažený sýr (fried cheese) on a bun with curry ketchup after a night on the town; just about everything I digested was fried or covered in gravy or served with a side of pickles.

Café culture is very strong in Prague.  I spent a lot of time with a book and a steady stream of espresso and cake in various kavarnas, and no one ever shooed me away for staying too long.  I went on bike rides with my host father (who is a carpenter and adores Batman), and my host sister took me to a fashion show in a giant warehouse.  In early March there was Masopust; Masopust is a pre-Lent celebrations that involves costumes, puppet shows, drum circles, and parading several miles to a village where everyone drinks mulled wine and dances.

All gussied up at Roztoky Castle before the festivities began.

The SIT experience also involved mini-excursions to different cities across the Czech Republic.  I went with two other students to a post-industrial city called Ustí nad Labem, and we later visited a farm-turned-art-studio in the tiiiiiny town of Litoměřice.

In Ustí we became amateur experts on Communist architecture (hint: concrete blocks painted crazy colors).

In Litoměřice I said hello to a pony hanging out by the wayside. Miss u, pony.

Our group became very close, especially on the extended trips that were a part of the SIT program.  We explored in Poland, museum-hopped in Vienna and spent a very weird night singing and dancing with a folk band in Slovakia.  The last month of the program was spent researching, creating and presenting independent projects (ISPs) that reflected what we had learned.  Having taken a writing workshop with Petra Hůlová, a Czech novelist, I decided to interview people about their favorite places in Prague and write short stories set in those places.  The ISP was a lovely end point to my study abroad experience.

Writing this, I actually find it impossible to put everything into words — it isn’t easy to summarize four months of living in a foreign country.  Studying in Prague was the perfect mix of discomfort (weird showers, too much sheep’s cheese) exhilaration (chatting with Czech writers and artists, going to a circus show and a punk concert) and cultural dissonance (explaining the concept of a PB&J sandwich to my host mom).  If you have any questions about studying abroad (or anything else), please ask!

SkidMolly: The Insider’s Guide to Majoring in English at Skidmore

The professors are incredible

Caveat: I figured out I was going to be an English major around the time I started to read — reading and writing are my two major talents, besides being pretty good at Skee-Ball.  But my choice was solidified once sophomore year started and I got a sampling of how killer the English professors are here.  Class sizes are usually quite small (English classes have either a 15:1 or a 24:1 student-to-professor ratio) and that means professors have more time to give you individualized attention.  Each professor has office hours where you can go in and talk about whatever’s due soon, or just check in.  And these people aren’t just amazing thinkers — they’re published writers and experts in their respective fields.  My Ulysses seminar professor, Tom Lewis, has written and directed TV documentaries that have been nominated for Emmy awards; Linda Hall, with whom I took a cultural criticism writing class, has written for Vogue and New York magazine.  Next semester I’m taking the senior advanced fiction workshop with Steven Millhauser, who just had a story in the New Yorker.  Needless to say, you’ll be learning from the best here.

Get ready to read a lot — and a little bit of everything

Be prepared to read upwards of six or seven novels in a typical semester-long literature class.  Taking multiple English classes inevitably results in a hefty amount of reading per night — a few hundred pages a week, maybe — so staying on top of English work requires diligence and careful plotting.  Lucky for you, the courses offered each semester are quite diverse, from Milton to Willa Cather and everything in between.  I’ll go ahead and say there aren’t many writers, genres, eras, literary forms or literary movements that go overlooked.  Sample course titles for next spring: the Victorian Illustrated Book, Queer Fictions, the Wild(e) ’90s (that’s the 1890s of course), Environmental Journalism, Chekhov, American Gothic Fiction, Food Literacy.

Some of my reading this semester, Punk Planet book not included.

Oh, get ready to write too

The first big essay I ever wrote was my senior year of high school; it was a five-page comparison of Frankenstein and Wuthering Heights, and boy, did it stink.  “Get ready,” said my AP Lit teacher, “It’s going to be like this all the time in college.”  He was right!  There’s a lot of straight-up word hustling going on in English courses, but you won’t be assigned one-size-fits-all papers every time.  I’ve had to write everything from blog-style reading responses to 15-page research papers.  Right now my African-American Novels professor is all about the two-page assignments — long enough to get the point across but short enough to have to choose the right words and topic.  So be prepared for everything, including the 25 – 50 page capstone writing project your senior year, and don’t worry — you’ll have plenty of professors who will help you with style and grammar and all that tasty mumbo jumbo.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WPR7_TBoXHA

^ Rick Moody reading at Skidmore’s Summer Writers Institute

Your future is going to be AMAZING!!!

Hmm.  That subtitle is a little heavy on the exclamation points, but still, it’s the truth.  If you decide to be an English major, you might get a lot of people either wrinkling their nose and telling you that you won’t get a job, or else assuming you want to be a teacher post-graduation.  I’m of the mind that the English major prepares you for all kinds of jobs because it teaches you how to communicate ideas.  Communicating ideas well happens to be a very useful vocational skill; plus, we’re all regressing from phone calls and meetings to emails and texts, so writing skills are essential.  Plus, Skidmore is a liberal arts school and encourages all kinds of academic exploration during undergrad, so don’t be shy about majoring in a subject for which you have a passion.

Four words: fruit and cheese platters

The English department brings amazing writers to campus for readings and Q&As, both internationally known authors like Lorrie Moore and Dave Eggers and home turf heroes like Daniel Swift and Greg Hrbek.  These department events are usually accompanied by the renowned Skidmore Catering fruit and cheese platter.  It is sumptuous.  Splendid.  The peak of luxury.  Perfectly ripe grapes, cellophane-tipped toothpicks, Muenster cubes AND cheddar cubes.  There’s nothing better than walking away from an Allan Gurganus reading with a swirling brain and a pocket full of cheese — that really sums up the English major experience for me.

SkidMolly: Skidmore A to Z

Here’s a li’l A-Z guide to some Skid vocabulary; know this stuff and you’ve practically got a college degree already.  Study up y’all.

A Capella — Skidmore has six a capella groups: the Sonneteers (all-female), the Accents (all-female), the Drastic Measures (co-ed/charity), the Dynamics (co-ed), the Bandersnatchers (all-male) and the Treblemakers (co-ed/all-inclusive).  These groups sing without any instruments in the background.  They sing all the time.  You’re going to leave a capella jams singing things like “dooo be dooo be dooby” and “la la laaaa shoom ba da ba” for the rest of the night.

Burgess — the café in Case Center.  They sell coffee and snax.  If you have a class before 10:10 am you will absolutely hit up Burgess on the regular, as early classes necessitate replacing at least 60% of your blood with caffeine.

Chicken Finger Fridays — it sounds silly.  Or mundane.  What’s the big deal about chicken fingers, right?  Wait until you hit up D-hall on Friday and see mounds of perfectly golden chicken fingers as far as the eye can see, complete with the dipping sauce of your choice.  These aren’t your mushy, super-processed, high school cafeteria-grade chicken fingers either.  These are the real deal.  When I was a junior I got a modified meal plan just so I could eat at Chicken Finger Friday.

D-hall — the dining hall.  I did SCOOP for my Pre-Or (see below) and all of the upperclassmen PAs were talking about “D-hall”.  “What is D-hall?” I, the naive first-year, asked.  “Uh…the dining hall,” they said.  So that’s the great story about how I learned to call the dining hall D-hall.

Elevator (Jonsson Tower) — Jonsson Tower is a residence hall and, at eleven stories, happens to be the tallest building in Saratoga.  Thus it is the only res hall with elevators, making it the top choice for lazy people everywhere.  Hot tip: take the ‘vator all the way up to the Penthouse and check out the nice mountain view.

Fun Day — on one of the last days of the spring semester, SGA puts on a massive daytime event involving student bands, bouncy castles, “sumo wrestling”, freeze pops, and the longest barbecue grill-line I’ve ever seen.  Everyone has gone stir-crazy from staying inside all winter so the ladies put on their bikinis, dudes wear lacrosse pinnies (whether or not they actually play lacrosse), and everyone enjoys the sunshine and eats hot dogs and does other stuff.  So Fun Day is…the best day at Skidmore.  Hot tip: snag the free sunglasses ASAP.

The Green — the huge stretch of grass closed in by Howe and Rounds Halls, D-hall, and Case Center.  Good hangin’ out place.  Frisbees everywhere.  Occasionally someone will bust out a slackline and that’s when things really get crazy.

Health Services — they’re in the basement of Jonsson Tower.  They do a little bit of everything: take care of you if you have swine flu, prescribe meds, do physicals for people about to go abroad, test for STDs, dole out birth control, and generally make sure the Skid population is happy and healthy.

Intramural Sports — people play them.  Tennis, softball, basketball, volleyball, whatever.  Quidditch practice has started too.  Don’t abandon your shin guards and lacrosse sticks just because you’re not playing at the varsity level.

Junior Ring — a semi-formal dance at the end of fall semester.  Hot tip: save your prom dresses, ladies.

Keurig Coffeemaker — when you go to the Admissions building for your tours and interviews, the coffee maker uses K-cups!  If you don’t drink coffee, might as well start now.  Sorry, this was a stretch.  I couldn’t think of anything else for K.

Lucy Scribner Library — the source of all student productivity on campus.  Come to the library to Get. Stuff. Done.  There’s a café, a ton of computers (both Mac and PC), a writing center where you can get help on papers, great librarians, a s*&#load of books, individual and group study rooms, and window seats with cozy chairs.  Oh, and the third floor is silent.  I’m blogging in the library as we speak.

MB 107 — the intro class you need to take if you’re going to be a Business major.  It involves making/presenting business plans and from what I’ve heard, it’s really intense.  Not for the faint of heart.  When you see girls wearing business casual skirts and boys wearing ties and suit jackets, that’s when you know it’s the presentation day for MB 107.

Off-Campus Study (Office Of) — where you go when you want to study abroad or do an exchange.  Here’s a sampling of places you can study: France, England, Spain, China, Australia, the Netherlands, Peru, Ecuador, Ghana, Senegal, Vietnam, Turkey.  59% of the class of ’11 studied abroad. That’s a lot of people.  Hot tip: study abroad.

Pre-Or — programs you can do before starting your freshman year.  SCOOP is probably the most popular; it’s an outdoorsy camping/hiking/canoeing program with different degrees of outdoorsiness depending on how willing you are to live for three days without an actual toilet.  There are on-campus Pre-Ors with the theater (theatre?) department, the Skidmore newspaper, and programs involving volunteering, music writing, and other good things.  Great option if you want to leave for college a few days early!

Questions — have more?  Ask me! I don’t bite.

RAs — your res hall will have an RA on each floor.  You can tell your RA lots of stuff: “I’m homesick,” “I hate my roommate(s),” “My ceiling light isn’t working,” “I’m struggling with an eating disorder,” “The people next door are making too much noise,” “I’m stressed ouuuuutttttt,” and so on.  RAs are concerned with your wellbeing and safety; they are not police officers or party poopers.  I was an RA in Jonsson Tower my sophomore year and can say with experience that RAs are special people who are there to help.  Hot tip: when you meet your RA, give ’em a bear hug.

SGA — Student Government Association.  Class presidents, secretaries, treasurers, social chairs, and so on.  They plan events, they regulate regulations, they do lots of stuff for the student body.  Last weekend we had Oktoberfest — the cats at SGA had games on the green, a dance at Falstaffs, a Dunkin’ Donuts study break, and even a beer tent for us legal folks.  SGA has that whole “of the people, by the people, for the people” thing going on.

Thoroughbreds — that’s us.  We used to be the Wombats but wombats aren’t very distinguished or intimidating (still charming though).  Our mascot goes to games and wears a horse suit and will give you a high-five if you want one.

Uncommon Grounds vs Saratoga Coffee Traders — the ongoing battle of where to go off-campus for coffee.  Uncommon Grounds has a crazy selection of bagels and a good, studious/comfy atmosphere but sometimes the service is rough.  Coffee Traders has wrap sandwiches named after famous racehorses, not to mention amazing hibiscus iced tea and a miniature candy store in the back, but it doesn’t have as much seating as Uncommon Grounds.  I like to split my time between the two.  Both of their bacon-egg-cheese bagels are a Saturday morning necessity.  Also, don’t you dare go to Starbucks.

Vagina Monologues — the Feminist Action Network puts it on every year, student-acted and student-directed.  Great for people who love theater and people who love women.

WSPN — the Skidmore radio station.  You can host your own radio show (first-time DJs usually get a time slot at like 4 in the morning) and theme it or just play whatever random songs you want to play, but beware putting your music on shuffle and risk playing “Aaron’s Party (Come Get It)” for all the world to hear.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

X-ercize Science — NOT how it’s spelled, but the Exercise Science major is one of the fastest-growing majors at Skidmore.  We’ve got some crazy bone density measuring device that’s only at two colleges: Skidmore and Stanford.  ‘Nuff said.

Yoga Club — we have one.  Join it.  Downward-facing-dog your life away.  Namaste.

Zankel — our new music building, replacing a sweaty, humid old music building.  Zankel looks like the world’s most beautiful hospital.  The main performance hall is supa dupa fly.  Also it’s another place to bring performers (as if we needed any more); last year we had Jenny & Johnny and Ani DiFranco, plus a bunch of classical concerts I happen to have missed.

There you have it.  Any further questions about any of these entities, drop me a line in the comment box or ask me via Formspring.