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College of Our Lady of the Elms

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Elms can be a wonderful college for some,Education
Elms can be a wonderful college for some, but a difficult fit for others.
I worked my way through college. It was very, very difficult for me, but I still managed to graduate with high honors.I transferred to OLE from a community college in the early seventies.

Elms College may have changed inside as much as it has changed outside, but I have talked to more recent graduates and well, some things never change.

Elms is a tiny campus, but a very beautiful campus although I sorrow that they were unable to save the apple orchard that brought me so much comfort. The chapel was extremely important to me as my college years were full of many difficult trials at home and at college.

Many of the faculty memebers were extremely helpful in getting me through all the financial flaming hoops. I had to stop school for one year because I ran out of money, but I saved up enough to finish a year later than planned.

Not everyone can have the "college life" you see portrayed in the movies or brochures, especially if you come from a family that is completely unable to help you with your education financially or emotionally. The Elms financial aid officer was a wonderful and caring nun and quite professional. She helped me learn the financial aid ropes.

However, the majority of the young women that I met at Elms came from stable homes and had educated parents. I was the first person in all of my family except for an older cousin that went to nursing school that went to college. My parents had no clue about the pressures of college and how you applied and what college life was and frankly that put me behind all the other students. But I learned much in my two years at my community college. Still there were many things that some parents or older siblings that have attended college can do to help a student fit in and I have the experience now in life to know that. I could weep when I think of all the support I gave my son that the girl I was long ago did not have. I would say that most of the Elms faculty did not understand that. I was the student that fell through the cracks so to speak.

Many of the young women at Elms were following in the footsteps of their relatives and always had a person to show them the way. Most of the students tended to come to Elms directly from high school and frankly seemed to be in high school mode permanently.

It was difficult for commuter students or working students to relate to the students that had followed the tradditional path. Having come from a very vibrant, very worldly college and working in some tough burger slinging jobs,I found that I was shocked by how sheltered the young women were. They would freak out over some of the smallest of problems and often called home. From what I understand this shelteredness is changing with the addition of the nursing school.

I wish I could have been one of the typical students in one way. They were really nice people, but then again I think I was more prepared for the hits of the working world than many of them so I will not complain.

But I could not make the transition from community college to Elms work and it was hard for the commuter students I knew as well. We had all been out struggling in the big world. Now we were attending college with a very much alike group of people that had already established a class identity. There were beanie ceremonies and a Big Sister/Little sister program and singing during meals that started from Freshman year. If you need the comfort of friendship and consistency, and you come directly from high school, this would be a very good choice for you. A safe and beautiful campus.

Although the four-year students were NOT unfriendly, the transfer students never really found a place and never recovered from the culture shock.

I met a lay professor there that I came to love dearly. Elms tended to choose outside faculty that was unique and talented. They have very high ideals and expectations in their choice of instructors. The education you will recieve will not disappoint you if Elms still holds to its original course.

I had many difficulties at Elms because I chose the school out of my appreciation for the good things mentioned above. When you choose a college, you must consider all of your needs. Otherwise you will blame the college or be angry at the college for your unhappiness.

However, I do feel that Elms might have looked into the situation of their working students with more concern and found a way to include them. Perhaps the four year students could have learned something of value from us that would help them in their working life.

I was raised Catholic and I was then and still am a very spiritually focused person, but unless you are Roman Catholic it is a little awkward. My roomate was Hindu and she felt extremely isolated. Even though the students were kind to her, she told me that she felt a bit like a "pet". That may sound weird, but I understand. A pet is loved and cared for and provided for, but never a member of the family that it belongs to. For spiritual people this can be extremely difficult.

I am NOT a party person or a nightlife person, if you are, you would probably be better off to look for a large university in a much bigger city. The surrounding area in the early seventies was not the most exciting place to be. Elms is located in a nice, but old city past its prime, but look to see if things have improved since the seventies. Check the local newspapers for example. Elms is not far from the Berkshire Hills which is one of the most beautiful places in the country to visit if you love nature.

Hopefully some more recent graduates will offer more up to date insight.

Alumnus Male -- Class 2000
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