Sweet Briar College { First Year }

Class End Today!

Classes end today and exams begin on Sunday! Here’s what is planned for stress relief!

Stress Relief Fall 2014 flyer JPEG


Making Plans for Spring Break

spring breakDear First Year Parents,

We are readily approaching that time of year when students start to make plans for Spring Break. Sweet Briar women choose a large variety of ways to spend their well-deserved break and get some solid R&R. Some students take this week to spend quality time with their friends and family back home or go on trips with their families. Others go home with friends or plan a group vacation (usually somewhere warm).

There are also a few Sweet Briar-sponsored activities occurring that your daughter can participate in. Some students will be taking the 1-credit “Urban Arts Excursion” class that meets exclusively during Spring Break and a long weekend, investigating and appreciating major cultural institutions focused on visual arts, dance, theater, music, and arts policy.

Another option is to join the Sweet Briar Outdoor Program on a trip to western North OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACarolina for a week of white water kayaking.  This trip will be beginner-friendly and guaranteed to be a blast. The Outdoor Program will provide all transportation, meals, lodging, instruction, and equipment for the trip. We will be staying in a heated cabin and spending time kayaking on lakes and rivers, as well as hiking, hanging out, and exploring local mountain towns.

This trip will be a great way to meet and connect with other students as well as provide a networking opportunity with Juliet Kastorff, SBC class of 1984, who owns Endless River Adventures, a rafting and kayaking company who we will team up with for this trip. This trip will provide your daughter with the opportunity to learn a new skill in a supportive environment, and help her stay active during a time when some students just sit on their parent’s couches watching Netflix all week.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe trip will begin on Saturday, March 7 and end on Sunday, March 15 so your daughter won’t have to worry about making any other travel plans, we will take care of it all! This trip will be only $300 for the whole week – cheaper than going home for most students.

If your daughter is having trouble deciding what to do for her break try asking her if her friends are going anywhere or if there is anything she wants to do in particular with her time off.  If your daughter does not have the option of coming home or doesn’t know how to spend her week you can suggest she stop by the Outdoor Program Office on the ground floor of Meta Glass and learn about our kayaking trip. We would love to have her join us for a week on and off the water!

Kate Macklin

Interim Director of Outdoor Programs



Pick Me Ups Between Thanksgiving & Winter Break

tree lighting

The stretch between Thanksgiving and Winter break can be challenging for many. Students have just returned from home during a particularly warming holiday of family, friends and home cooked food. For many their return to campus is met by cold temperatures, grey skies and the weight of final exams which is often accompanied by stress and anxiety. 

Over the years Sweet Briar students have established traditions that give them something to look forward to and lift their spirits during this particularly difficult time. In these few short weeks students have a lot to look forward to. Encourage your daughter to take time to celebrate with her new community. She is bound to find some stress relief.

Wednesday, December 3 – Christmas Tree Lighting

Students gather to sing carols and light a tree in the upper quad to kick off the holiday season on campus and celebrate the community. Everyone gathers in good cheer, even the Sweet Briar horses make a special appearance.

Sunday, December 7 – Holiday Pops Concert and Christmas Vespers

Holidays Pops is a fun and laid back tradition. Students gather in the chapel to sing popular seasonal songs. Christmas vespers, which immediately follows the pops concert, is a traditional candlelight service, including readings and carols. Students of all beliefs are welcome. Whether you’ve never stepped foot in a church, or you know every verse of “Silent Night” it is a memorable event. The choir and orchestra contribute excellent music to the evening.

Thursday, December 11 – Home for the Holidays Dance 

This year CEO will host a holiday dance to unwind from a semester of accomplishments! Music, dancing, food and friends help to de-stress and give the brain a break before the intensity of reading days begin.

Friday, December 12 – S’mores and Hot Coco

Students join the Outdoor Program around the fire to celebrate the last day of class with s’mores and hot chocolate.

As a parent remember it is normal for students to feel anxious at this point in the semester. They feel a lot of pressure as they wrap up their classes and enter their first experience of college exams.  Encourage your daughter to persevere. She will be home soon enough and her studies throughout the semester will prepare her well for her finals. Encourage her to not let the stress of final exams dampen her spirit, but to take study breaks and celebrate the season with her new community before she departs from campus.

Parents Welcome Every Weekend!

Dear First Year Parents,

Since graduating from Sweet Briar in 2004 I have lived in many different places from the mountains of Virginia to Leadville, Colorado, to Las Vegas, Nevada and Jackson Hole, Wyoming. For each place I have moved it was important that my family could picture where I was, what my environment and my home looked like and to have met some of my friends who supported me in each of those places. It helped me share my experience with my family and it allowed my family to be a part of my life when I was physically very far from home.

At Sweet Briar we know how important it is to be able to picture your daughter in her new home away from home. It’s important for you as parents and it is equally important for your daughter. We invite you to come visit your daughter at Sweet Briar during a weekend that works best for both you and her. To encourage you to join us and stay on campus to get a feel for life at Sweet Briar the Elston Inn is offering a special discount for any family’s first stay on campus.

So choose a weekend that works for you to head our way. Maybe there’s a play you want to see or a dance concert performance that would be fun. If your daughter is an athlete you might choose a weekend when she has a home game or meet. Or there might be a fun festival or museum in the local community that you would enjoy checking out together. We encourage you to create a weekend that both of you would enjoy whenever it works best for you to make it happen.

The weekend of October 25 is one weekend the college is highlighting as a possible visit to campus – Fall into Family Fun. The weekend will host Hunter Trials at the Riding Center at 8am, a field hockey game at 11:30am, a soccer game at 2:30pm and in the evening there will be a choir concert at 7:30pm in Memorial Chapel. If this sounds exciting to you join us. If there’s something else you’d rather do there is no pressure to attend this specific weekend. We’re simply highlighting it as a possibility to consider. We will also highlight a weekend in the spring – February 28. More details to come.

We look forward to having you join us on campus.


Ways to Wellness

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Transitioning to college living and the independence that comes with it is difficult for most first year students. As mid-terms approach students feel overwhelmed with their academic work; they need help but don’t know who to turn to; they feel as if they don’t have any time to take care of themselves. This fall the Health and Wellness Center is offering a series of programs with the goal of helping students care for themselves outside of the classroom so they can bring their best self to their academic work.

Ways to Wellness is a series of six information sessions. Students can attend one or all of the sessions depending on what topics interest them. The first session in the series will be lead by Dori Baker, our campus Chaplain and Director of the Office of Spiritual Life. Dori will be introducing Five Doctors of Wellness or five daily practices for taking care of oneself and relieving stress in our over busy lives. The five doctors are Dr. Sunshine, Dr. Good Food, Dr. Love, Dr. Om and Dr. Gratitude.

If you’ve heard your daughter voicing concern about how much she has on her plate encourage her for take time for herself and get the help she needs. You might want to suggest she attend one or all of the Ways to Wellness sessions, or encourage her to check in with her ARCHES Instructor to help connect her to one of the many resources on campus that can positively guide her to success.

Each of the Ways to Wellness sessions will take place on Monday evening from 8pm-9pm in Pannell 202 unless otherwise noted. Pre-registration is requested for individual sessions. Students can contact the Health & Wellness Center at 434-381-6140.

TODAY – October 13, Five Doctors of Wellness – Dori Baker, Office of Spiritual Life

October 20, Introduction to Yoga – Mark Magruder, Dance Department *Meet in dance studio in Babcock

October 27, Wellness & Nutrition: It’s NOT just about FOOD – Bonnie Kestner, Wellness Counselor

November 3, Know Yourself to Take Care of Yourself – Joan Lucy, Leadership Certificate Program

November 10, Let’s Get Active: Getting Started – Kate Macklin, Outdoor Program

November 17, Let’s Explore: Substances 101; Questions about family friends or self – Betty Blevins, Health & Wellness Center

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Step Singing Tonight!

Most all students on campus are looking forward to Step Singing this evening. Step Singing is a tradition that takes place in the fall and spring semesters to celebrate the seniors’ final days on campus. All students gather in the upper quad. The soon-to-be-alumnae sit on the Senior Steps in robes that have been decorated and passed down from alumnae and are surrounded by the other classes. Each class will collectively lift up their voices to demonstrate class spirit, tease their rival class and glorify their sister class and the seniors.

The first years met last Thursday evening to brainstorm how they could rewrite popular song lyrics for their class to sing. Tonight the class of 2018 will begin the step singing tradition by singing a song dedicated to their own class followed by a friendly rivalry song directed at the sophomores. The juniors class, their sister class, and the senior class will receive songs of admiration from the first years. The spotlight on the first years ends with a Holla-Holla from the seniors. The sophomores and juniors follow their songs and the evening ends with a Holla-Holla to Sweet Briar.

This is the first all campus tradition to take place this year. It is a beautiful event where the classes come together to celebrate each other. Ask your daughter what songs her class sang and how they changed the lyrics. She can also tell you what her class did when the sophomores sang their song to the first years. And if you don’t know what the Holla-Holla is it’s worth asking; although, she might not be able to tell you all the words yet. It comes with time.

Upcoming traditions include Founder’s Day (next weekend) and the Rock and Hitching Post fight (October 8).

First Full Week of Classes

The first week of college classes is always challenging. Students are navigating a new campus, meeting professors, being confronted with intimidating syllabi all while forming friendships and getting used to living with a roommate. This year’s first year students have been tested far beyond the maturity of their years and yet their resiliency is to be commended. Understandably there has been a full range of how they have processed the events of this week, but by week’s end we have pulled together as a community. Difficult and important conversations are taking place. The weight of responsibility as a respectful and intentional member of our community is very real for our students, faculty and staff.

Because of the positive experiences the Juniors and Seniors have had at Sweet Briar, the upper-class women are reaching out to the class of 2018 to share with them what SBC means to them and has to offer as a caring community.  On Tuesday, September 9 Juniors will host a mixer with the first years over lunch. The very same evening the Senior class has invited First Years to help them decorate their senior robes. Both classes are looking forward to these upcoming interactions and bonding with the newest members of our community.

Sweet Briar is resilient and continues to move forward. SGA elections will take place next week. If your daughter is interested in running encourage her to submit her platform by this Sunday evening at 10pm. If holding a position in Student Government does not interest her encourage her to learn about her potential class leaders by attending the open forum on Wednesday, September 10 and to vote on Thursday, September 11.

The class of 2018 has a lot to look forward to.

Orientation 2014

Orientation 2014 – it’s hard to believe today is the last day of orientation and tomorrow classes begin. For most our new students, tomorrow will be their fist day of college! A very exciting day! We just gathered together as a campus for Opening Convocation, the official beginning of the academic year followed by an ice cream social in front of the Sweet Briar House to welcome President Jones and his wife Jan.

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 As expected, the vast majority of orientation focused on getting students prepared academically – learning about academic resources on campus, registering for classes, meeting their adviser, etc.  Orientation provided them with an understanding of the library, computing on campus, and even provided a mock classroom experience. Students visited the library to gain an understanding of the vast number of resources available to them and met the incredibly helpful staff. The mock class defined the expectations of a Sweet Briar classroom. Students met with their advisers one-on-one to sign up for their fall classes. Ask your daughter what classes she’s most excited about and why?

 Orientation is centered around academic preparation, but students were able to relax and socialize at the evening events. Orientation creates a space for students to get to know each other and make connections with their classmates, upperclass women, faculty and staff. New students first big welcome to campus and our community was Learning on the Land. Invite  your daughter to share with you what group she was in and who her group leader was. A program titled, I Am Sweet Briar, shared personal stories of upper class women and showcased the vast assortment of identities that  Sweet Briar women claim. And Step Up, a bystander intervention program, offered tools for students to positively engage with their peers and be a part of creating a community that is open and respectful.

Cathy's group    monument hill

Tonight your daughter will sleep well. We’ve kept them busy during orientation and tomorrow classes begin, their first day of college! Congratulations – to both you and your student. We’re thrilled she is here and are looking forward to helping her be successful.

Looking Forward to the Arrival of the Class of 2018!

Welcome first years and parents! We are very excited that you are joining the Sweet Briar community on Saturday! We have been eagerly preparing for your arrival. Orientation is going to be a lot of fun and a helpful transition into the community. The finalized orientation schedule can be found on our website. You can also follow orientation on Twitter: @orientsbc


This blog is intended to keep parents of first-year students connected to the campus community. I will post articles that you may find interesting and highlight events that assist with first year transition. Who knows, you may even find your daughter’s photo from a campus event here. I do encourage you to post comments or questions if you would like more information about topics. You can subscribe to this blog by entering your email address on the right side of the page. You will receive an email every time a new blog entry is posted.

Welcome class of 2018 to the Sweet Briar community. We are so pleased to have you join us.

Exam Stress Relief

Students have a wide variety of options for combating exam stress! Check out this flier with the highlights of the exam stress options. Also, the library will be open 24/7 until exams are complete.

Stress Relief Spring 2014 flyer