Congratulations! You’ve been accepted!
When I was accepted into New England College in the middle of my senior year of high school, I had no idea what to do next. After sending in my $300 entry deposit, my spot was secured, but secured for what? What did the dorms look like? Was the 19-meal plan too much? What kind of classes was I getting myself into? These are all decisions that I had to make with no opinions from others, as I didn’t know anybody that was attending NEC.
My mom and dad had an opinion that differed from most parents. Once I move out, I’m moved out. My room isn’t mine any more, rather it’s their craft room—which is odd considering my parents don’t do crafts. All my clothes either came with me or were given to the local Goodwill, and I was only able to keep one box of things at home, which was shoved in a closet once I left.
Even though I brought almost everything I owned, it was inevitable for me to go into my freshman year ill-prepared. As the saying goes, “everything must go wrong.”
As anyone at NEC can tell you, this small-town campus doesn’t have too much to offer. But, if you pull the right strings, and do the right research, you can live a lavish lifestyle—or at least as lavish as college can possibly get. Sometimes, you have to realize that freshman year will be a sh*t show, but maybe this will help.
NEC offers eleven different dorm buildings for undergrad students. The room styles can either be a single, double (the most common), triple, or quad. Singles are extremely hard to get into and students can be put on a waiting list if they are wishing to live by themselves. Singles can also be upward of $4,000 which isn’t always the best for an incoming students’ budget. Chances are, as a freshman, you won’t be lucking out and getting a single. But, doubles aren’t too bad.
A little more than twenty NEC students were asked which dorm they believed is the best, and which one they thought was the nicest. Almost unanimously, they answered East to both questions. East is the most newly renovated dorm on campus and features air conditioning units with a personal thermostat in every room. These dorms are pricey, but most students who have lived here (and even the ones who just visit) see no problem with the cost.
Location-wise, East is a little out of the way. On the opposite side of the street from Gilmore Dining Hall, the Simon Center, and the Library, is the quad, which consists of Charter, Conner, and the famous East. But, on the other side of campus, is Colby and West. West is popular for athletes at NEC as it is the closest to the athletic facilities, and it’s right next to Bridges Gym. Other dorms are located in buildings that look more like houses rather than a traditional dorm building. These dorms are Union, Bridge, Fitch, and Lewin. Rowe and Sanborn are two other dorms, but they are located a couple minutes off campus.
As someone who lived in both West and Colby my freshman year, I have a few opinions of my own. I lived on the third floor of west in the farthest and quietest corner of the building but going into the central part of the building brings a great deal of noise. However, you can’t hear much through the walls. In Colby, however, not many people run through the halls. But, every night I can hear my neighbor watching Disney Channel. Why is a sophomore in college watching a Disney show? I have no idea. But I fall asleep to it every night.
The on-campus dining facilities at New England College offers a variety of weekly meal plans. At Gilmore Dining Hall students have the option at the beginning of the semester to pick a plan ranging from 19 swipes a week to 5 a week. As a freshman, students are required to get a minimum of 15 swipes a week; whether it’s so the school makes more money, or so that NEC ensures that no freshmen go hungry, no one knows.
The less swipes a student purchases at Gilmore, the more Flex Cash that student receives. Flex Cash is money loaded onto your ID Card to use at various dining locations throughout campus. If a student decides to purchase nineteen meals a week, then they will only get $100 worth of flex cash to spend in a semester. If another student were to choose a five-swipe meal plan, then that students receives $400 of flex cash. The flex cash rolls over into the next semester if unused, but it won’t roll over to a new academic year.
Most students would think “go big or go home” as a freshman and decide on the nineteen-swipe meal plan. Although this idea seems tempting, almost all previous freshmen who have made this decision regret it.
A survey done on 17 students asked, “Is having a 19-meal plan worth it to you?” All 17 students said no.
Something to also keep in mind is that once you pick a meal plan, swipes can only be increased. This means that if you end up not using all fifteen swipes a week, you can’t go down to ten swipes, and you continue to pay for all the meals you don’t eat.
If you are having a hard time deciding whether bringing your car is worth it, think about this. NEC’s campus is in the very remote town of Henniker, New Hampshire. Although it sits alone off of US 202, if you have a vehicle, you can get to everywhere you need to be. With Concord being just 25 minutes east and Manchester being a little over 40 minutes, you can find everything you need. Groceries, shopping, and movie theatres can all be found in these two cities.
Without a car, buying things for your dorm and for everyday life might be a little difficult. There is only one “grocery” store in Henniker, but it might not have everything you need. However, you can find the basics at the Dollar Store, College Convenience, and the Pharmacy just off campus.
But, don’t fret if you don’t have a car. NEC offers shuttles to Concord, free to students. These shuttles run almost every Wednesday and on the weekends. During breaks for Christmas and Thanksgiving the shuttles will make its way to Manchester Airport, and into Concord so that you are able to catch a bus to Boston, or even home.
WHAT YOU NEED
Did you pack your entire room into boxes and load it in the car? Or did you keep a couple things at home and tell your mom that she could mail it to you if you needed it? Well, chances are you under-packed. From a survey twenty-five people, 68% say that they didn’t pack enough from home. Most freshmen came prepared with their bed spreads, lamps, and dorm decorations. But some students left some items of clothing at home, not thinking they’d need them, but then realized that they needed it for winter or the crazy heat waves that New England can bring.
If you think you’ve packed too much, pack a little bit more and then call it good. Unless you happen to live close to home, almost all of your clothing should make its way to college with you—even if you haven’t worn it in a couple months. If you end up not having enough room in the closet or the dresser, then under bed storage bins and drawers are your best friend.
As far as dorm decor and necessities, bring what you think will make you most comfortable. Talking to your roommate beforehand can help you save some money and make it so you don’t end up with duplicates in your room. Whatever you do, the more fans the better. One window fan will leave you with heat exhaustion, but two might make the few months of heat bearable.
WHAT CLASSES TO TAKE
Coming into college with no idea what you want to study seems scary. NEC has many classes that might peak an interest though. Bridges to Learning, which is a mandatory freshman class, is a helpful tool. It helps with financial management, class registration, and working through life problems. Other classes recommended by students were Statistics, Communicating Nature (a Liberal Arts and Science class), and Creative Writing.
Although taking classes involved with your intended major is important, jumping around and taking classes that you wouldn’t normally take can get you interested. Liberal Arts and Science (LAS) classes are required classes that don’t always have a correlation to your major. This can make it easy to #1) get your required credits, #2) figure out something you like to study outside of your main curriculum, #3) find a new major/minor, or #4) possibly double major.
Over all, NEC is just like any other college. Mediocre housing, average food in the dining halls, and good classes to take no matter the major.
Most students can attest that if you stay in East and you get a meal plan of less than 15, bring your car with you to campus and pack as much into it as you can, then you will be set for the year.