The Feb Experience

To give you a feel for what your arrival on campus will be like, we asked current Febs about their experiences and wrote down what they had to say. Click on the green questions below to read their responses!

Will I have a "normal" college experience like all of my friends who are beginning college in September are having?

You will not have a "normal" college experience. There are many things about starting in February that will effect your time here, for all four years. But remember that "normal" doesn't equate to "better." There are things about being a Feb that are frustrating, isolating, and flat out difficult, but there are also things about being a Feb that are enlightening, empowering, and just plain wonderful. You're choosing something different, with all the skeletons and butterflies that go along with it.
Rebecca Coates-Fink (rcoatesfinke@middlebury.edu)

Yes, and extremely tedious, too! I'm terribly happy that I arrived in college just at the time when I'm comfortable enough with myself, and confident in my capability to take challenges, adventures, even risks. The reflective experience we got during the six months is our repertoire of inner power. Rumor has it that Febs tend to go out and explore things much more often than their contemporaries. An open mind, an intellectual curiosity, and the right amount of audacity defines who we are.
Helen Jialong Wu (jialongw@middlebury.edu

No, your college experience won't be normal. This experience will be in some ways worse but in more ways better than the typical college experience, and in the end you won't regret being a Feb. By becoming a Feb you have given yourself a chance to grow over your Febmester through however you spend it. 
J.J. Moser (jmoser@middlebury.edu)

No, not at all. Being a Feb is a very unique experience with coming in mid way through the year and with a much smaller group of freshmen. This creates a more special orientation focused on all febs meeting new febs rather than one group getting close. This makes meeting febs from all around campus easier, rather than September who tend to get to know people in their hall the most during orientation.
Sophie Quay-de la Vallee (squaydelavailee@middlebury.edu)

Nope. You will probably identify a little differently but it is only a good different. If you want to make your experience more "normal" you can though.
Mariah Levin (mllevin@middlebury.edu)


What do people do during their Feb semesters? Do I need to go save the world?

I wasn't ready to save the world for my Febmester, so I took a different tack. Over the summer and most of the fall, I worked in an Immigration Law office in my hometown, stage managed a production of Our Town, and swam a lot. I was lucky enough to spend two and a half weeks in Japan, babysitting a cousin, and in the last month I went on a road trip with my sister around the Midwest. It really doesn't much matter what you do: having a semester to craft your life out of no responsibilities and no commitments will have a huge impact on you as a person, and when you come to Middlebury in February, you'll find a class of 100

Rebecca Coates-Fink (rcoatesfink@middlebury.edu)

The varying levels of what people do during their febmester is crazy. There's no judgment is you go to Africa or stay home and work or road trip across New England. The important thing to think about is what you want to get out of your febmester personally, if you want to be challenged, if you want to relax, if you want to make or spend money etc. Febmesters are very personalized      

Sophie Quay-de la Vallee (squaydelavailee@middlebury.edu)

People do a variety of things over their Febmesters: the most important thing about it is that you learn from your experience. I worked in a restaurant earning minimum wage over my Febmester, but I'll never forget my experience there learning from my coworkers and being a part of that community.There is no right or wrong way to spend your semester off! It's such a special opportunity in that you can really choose to do anything that makes you excited. If that's working for a semester, then that's fantastic, and you won't be the only Feb making that choice! It could be traveling, or volunteering, or just taking a breather... there's no one way to go about your "Febmester," and you'll see that once you arrive on campus and hear all the different kinds of things the rest of your Feb class did! 

J.J. Moser (jmoser@middlebury.edu)

Not necessarily, no. It is certainly laudable that Amonoma has helped solve water crisis in a Kenyan village, and that Brulurb has helped build the first primary school in rural Kirghistan. But if you don't feel you're quite ready to shoulder the responsibility yet, you can actually take this time to empower yourself, and one day you'll be ready. During my febmester, I once again took the role of a student. I went to a culinary school to satisfy my craving stomach. I learnt parachute gliding, because I know when war comes I need this skill. I learnt international Mandarin promotion. One thing I contributed to the world is that I taught Chinese students cram for SAT and TOEFL. The point of febmester is a discovery and recognition of your place in the world, and that does not limit to being a savior.

Helen Jialong Wu (jialongw@middlebury.edu)

As is stated above, you do not need to save the world during your Feb semester. Your Feb semester is about doing what is the best choice for you – taking time off, working at home, doing an internship or traveling the world. Here is a small sample of what the class of 2016.5 did for their Feb semester:


How does the rest of the campus react to the arrival of new Febs each winter?

Everyone is ridiculously excited to have new people in February. It can be stressful sometimes to have so much positive energy directed at you! But it's also wonderful. You will be the jewel of your hall for the first 3 weeks - and then things go back to normal. 
Rebecca Coates-Fink (rcoatesfinke@middlebury.edu)

Not unreasonably they adore febs. I don't mean that professors like you even before you arrive, but that classmates are generally interested in knowing who these special species are. Legend has it that people are nice when it's cold, and nasty when it's hot. I will refrain myself from giving it a negative or affirmative opinion. Yet I will not deny the fact that I really felt the warmth and friendliness in my chest, arriving on a snow-covered February.
Helen Jialong Wu (jialongw@middlebury.edu)

The Febs come right when the winter starts getting mundane, and to be honest, we spice it up. We are those freshmen who are super excited to be in college finally. For all the other freshmen, the novelty has kind of worn off. We are new, exciting people and it's what keeps the winter from getting too blue.
Devin MacDonald (dmacdonald@middlebury.edu)

How easy is it to connect with first-year students who arrived in September?

First years are excited to meet Febs but it helps if you make an effort to reach out to them. They think all the Febs have already made friends with other febs (True, but we want to make more friends!)
Mariah Levin

It totally depends on what you're looking for. If you put yourself out there, you will have no problem meeting first-year students who arrived in September. Everyone is always looking to make new friends in college, so whether you join a student organization, or just introduce yourself to other first-years in your classes, there are always going to be students who want to be your friend and help you out with your transition! When I got here in the spring, I was placed on a first-year hall. Even though the rest of my hall had all been living together since September and I was just arriving in the spring, they could not have been more welcoming. I felt completely part of the community, and through them, I met so many other first-years.
Ilana Gratch (igratch@middlebury.edu)

What are some of the benefits of being a Feb?

There is definitely something to be said for taking some time off after thirteen years straight of school. For what may be the first time, there are no expectations or demands in terms of how to spend your time. For me, that was really exciting. Plus, once you get to campus, you don't arrive alone; you are surrounded by a community of Febs all looking to find their place at Middlebury.
Ilana Gratch (igratch@middlebury.edu)

You get to live in nice dorm rooms like Chateau. You have the best Orientation experience, during which you build extremely close relationships. You won't face heavy internet traffic when registering for classes. You graduate by downhill skiing, looking like wizards. You are automatically enrolled in the "elite" Feb club.
Helen Jialong Wu (jialongw@middlebury.edu)

As a Feb, you get to experience the campus in a way entirely unique in comparison with the other first-years. For one, Feb Orientation will instantly give you a diverse group of friends that are spread out across campus. Though the spread out feeling may seem inconvenient, it'll help you really experience all of the campus and meet more people. Also, Feb Orientation is undoubtedly the best possible way to start your Middlebury experience. Although orientations are typically just cheesy icebreakers and endless name cards, Feb Orientation is something much more.
J.J. Moser (jmoser@middlebury.edu)

What are some of the drawbacks?

Watching my friends go off to school in September when I stayed home wasn't fun. Also, if you're in a Sophomore dorm you may have trouble integrating with your hall since they will most likely have known each other for a year and a half. However, all of these drawbacks are greatly outweighed by the benefits.
J.J. Moser (jmoser@middlebury.edu)

Time is huge as a Feb. You come to school for one short semester, and then you leave for 3 months, which can make that first semester feel unreal - a test run. (It wasn't - those connections are still there, you did accomplish something, sometimes it just doesn't feel like it). If you want to travel abroad, you'll have to declare your major at the end of your second semester at school, so if you're undecided, you'll want to buckle down and figure it out as soon as you can. Languages can be tricky, especially because Middlebury is very committed to students really knowing a language before they travel abroad. Make sure to check what classes you'll need to take so you can be on top of the game. 
Rebecca Coates-Finke (rcoatesfinke@middlebury.edu)

Some of the drawbacks are it can be really hard to start half way through, enter in the most depressing part of the year, and live with upper classmen, but this is all for just one semester. Integrating yourself into the community though is more dependent on your effort and time because you seem to be a little more separated. It also makes selecting your major and planning your time abroad a little more difficult with the deadlines but that's pretty manageable.
Sophie Quay-de la Vallee (squaydelavailee@middlebury.edu)

Want to ask another question to the most recent class of Febs?

Send an email to orientation@middlebury.edu with your question. We will pose it to the Feb Class of 2016.5, and post the questions and their answers on this site as we receive them.

What are the different housing options I might be assigned to when I arrive at Middlebury, and when will I hear about mine?

You'll hear sometime in January about housing and you can be placed anywhere really. Freshmen or upperclassmen and you'll usually have a feb roommate but you can also be placed with a reg freshman or sophomore. Really wherever there's space! There can be positives and negative but just be open and try to get to know the people around you right off the bat, but you have to make the effort!.
Sophie Quay-de la Vallee (squaydelavailee@middlebury.edu)

Housing is all across campus, and you can't really go wrong. Everything has upsides and downsides, but in the end, it doesn't make much of a difference as you move out the next semester anyway.
Rebecca Coates-Finke (rcoatesfinke@middlebury.edu)

Additional advice that previous Febs thought would be helpful.

Be proud to be a Feb! Seriously, looking back on my experience I can't imagine NOT being a Feb. Be open-minded, be excited, be enthusiastic, BE YOU. The rest will fall into place.
Sammi Re

Be open, use your resources and don't be afraid to feel how you feel. You don't have to pretend like everything is perfect all the time, because college is hard. Know that you can trust your teachers, your dean, your Feb leaders and your friends. There is a huge support group at this school and tapping into it will make everything better.
Devin MacDonald (dmacdonald@middlebury.edu)