As J-term registration faces me tomorrow morning at 6:59am, I cannot help but think back to my experience in taking MiddCORE last January. While I was not certain of what the course would entail, I had heard too many people tell me that, “It was the greatest course I have taken at Middlebury” or “You would really be perfect for this course” or “I worked all day every day but it was the most rewarding experience” to not buck up and take it. So, knowing nothing more than people’s strangely passionate reactions to the course, I fell asleep at 7:03am on the day of registration, warily signed up for MiddCORE. A mere two weeks later, we began receiving e-mails from the coordinator with our first week challenges, our mentor sheets, our daily schedule and a mission statement. Included in the first e-mail was a friendly welcome note followed abruptly by a subtle warning that in the four weeks of January, we should be prepared to relinquish our beings to the greater entity of MiddCORE and be prepared to have a life-changing experience. This was where I began to question my rash decision of enrolling in a mysterious beast of a course that was subsequently leading me into surrendering my soul and transforming my already satisfying life. I was in too deep as any other possibly appealing class was filled to the brim with eager students and followed by extensive waiting lists. I had committed and albeit skeptically, I would head to the Atwater seminar room on January 3rd at 8am to prove all of those previous students correct.
I can’t describe accurately what happened in the four weeks that followed but I can vouch that every previous comment was verified and that while I was happy to retrieve my soul at the end of January, I couldn’t have been more pleased with my winter term experience. The course was a dynamic collaboration of every possible skill necessary in the work world. The topics covered ranged from sales to marketing to networking to public speaking to negotiating to consulting to art projects to movie making. Every day, topics changed and we were constantly shifting from one theme to the next. There was no single professor but rather a host of mentors that came daily to lead the class and facilitate challenges. Each week, we were split into groups of 4 and given distinct challenges that culminated in a presentation and judging session on Friday. Aside from the prize of finally sleeping on Friday night, the winning team also was given a gift certificate to a restaurant in town. Being an ultra competitive individual, I dove head first into the challenges and felt as if the coordinator was Donald Trump and I the eager Apprentice. The four weeks are quite a blur as days melted into nights and core themes multiplied. I worked extremely hard each day but never felt distressed as I was doing so on my own accord. At the end of the course, I primarily felt a bizarre sense of power stemming from the confidence gained throughout the four weeks but mostly, a sense of satisfaction with my Middlebury education. Before entering the course, I was skeptical of my future plans and feeling as though the lack of focus in the liberal arts education would hinder me in the application and interview process the following fall. Contrastingly, upon completion of MiddCORE, I discovered that a liberal arts education would in fact prove to be quite practical as it prepares you not only for one distinct track but truly, for any. The course continues to follow me and its benefits are notable in my daily happenings. I couldn’t be more pleased with my decision to enroll and have brashly become a proud MiddCORE alumna spouting similar ambiguous praises around registration time in efforts to convert new wary, but brave, undergrads.