Community Corner

Community Corner is a collection of articles and resources created by members of the HMC community, for the HMC community, and can include submissions from parents and families, students, alumni, faculty and staff. We hope that you will enjoy these resources and find them useful. 

We welcome additional submissions of inspirational thoughts, best practices, or other helpful and insightful information. Please send contributions to parents@hmc.edu. Note that all submissions will be reviewed/edited in partnership with the contributor prior to publishing.

The Imposter Syndrome

At the beginning of each year, President Maria Klawe offers advice to first-year students about managing and dealing with the imposter syndrome, a real concern for the majority of new students. Given the level of rigor and challenge of the Harvey Mudd College curriculum, it’s common for students to wonder whether they should be at Mudd, to wonder if they are as talented as the other students, to suspect Admission somehow made a mistake.

President Klawe reminds students that many people who outwardly seem successful feel like this throughout their lives, even her. “I wake up most mornings feeling like a complete failure,” she says. “That’s the voice on one side of my head. Fortunately, there’s another voice on the other side that says, ‘I can change the world.’”

For many people, the impostor voice may make them work harder and be more successful. But for others, the impostor voice may result in not aiming high and being unwilling to risk failure.

When experiencing self-doubt, President Klawe shares ways to cope. “I promise that if you do all of these things, you will learn and grow immensely as a Mudder and as a person,” she says. “Please join me in making this year a year of learning and growth.”

  1. Ask for help. There are so many people who can help. Your professors. Academic excellence. The Writing Center. Your peers. Proctors and mentors. Dr. Gonzales and the rest of the student affairs team. And me, too. Asking for help and taking it is a huge part of what you will learn as a Mudder. It’s one of the core competencies that will make you successful throughout your life. Learn it early. Practice it often. Do it before you even start feeling like a failure. Ask for help!
  2. Recognize that feeling like a failure is likely to make you more successful in the long run. We learn more from dealing with failure than from success. Feeling like a failure is often the result of having very high expectations, which is the reason that so many very successful people spend a lot of time feeling like a failure.
  3. Share your feelings with others. You will feel much less lonely when you realize how many people have similar feelings.
  4. Celebrate your successes. So often we ignore the things that are going well and only focus on the problem areas.
  5. Surround yourself with people who encourage you.
  6. If one approach isn’t working, try others.
  7. Keep on working hard. Don’t let your fears undermine your ability to give your best effort.

Parent to Parent: Tips for supporting your Mudder during remote learning

Supporting your Mudder during remote learning is key to their well-being and success. Below are some helpful tips submitted by Parent Leadership Council member, Andrea Fant-Hobbs P23 (Madison Hobbs ’23).

1. A Place for Learning

Set-up a special place for learning other than the student’s bedroom. Much like configuring a new dorm room, it will be helpful to reconfigure your student’s current bedroom as a “learning space” if an alternate space in your home is not possible; it will help them transition to “college” and virtual learning. We helped Madison set up her separate learning space and added an HDMI cord to project the class lecture on a big screen TV—that helped as an alternate to her small Apple computer screen.

2. Letting Go!

The same way parents would have dropped their kids off [on campus] and flipped a switch mentally… they will need to more intentionally flip that switch even though their kids will be home. Don’t expect your Mudder for breakfast lunch or dinner! They will have classes round the clock and student groups and meetings and social time and they likely will not have time to enjoy daily family meals!

You may be surprised that your Mudder may appear to be laughing and having fun on line and you might not think they are working on school work. But, this is how they WILL be working together! They may need a little social interaction fun to blow off stress and steam and it’s ok.

3. Allow your Mudder Space

Let your Mudder figure out their “flow”—this is a challenging time and they won’t be experts navigating yet either.

4. Mistakes are Key to Learning

Everyone will make mistakes, but in so doing you will be learning what works for all of you.

5. Be Patient and Be Empathetic!

This isn’t that fun college experience they expected either! Be patient and empathetic. They will be tired and frustrated. They will be missing their friends and peers and in-person social interaction.

6. Shh, Quiet Please!

We had our daughter print her class schedule and test schedule and we taped it to the door of the spare room we fully converted to her learning space, classroom and lounge. We knew when she was in class and had tests so we would be sure not disturb her.

7. Food, Food Glorious Food!

At school there is a cafeteria…they could “box out” and “grab and go.” To make it easy, we made breakfast and lunch and dinner put it on trays and left them for Madison to grab and go as needed/desired. There were times she brought her tray to join us when she wanted to and needed to and had time to and plenty of times she just grabbed it and headed back to her “learning space.” There were some meals she simply didn’t eat and that was fine too. We knew she would not starve and would eat when hungry.

We also set out baskets with plenty of water, plenty of healthy, somewhat healthy, and not healthy snacks! There were days we actually didn’t see her but we heard her footsteps, and laughter, and class participation ….and we saw the food and snacks disappear and knew she was alive and well!

8. What a Chore!

Even though your Mudder is home, remember they are in school and in a very rigorous program and the work is hard. Therefore, you may need to give them a break from their old chores…mowing the lawn or whatever. The first goal is to get into a rhythm with their schoolwork and routine…let the other stuff slide! After the first couple of months you will have a good idea what if anything they can resume doing like chores.

9. Listen and Be Supportive

Our daughter always talked to us about stuff…and we found she was happy to share her thoughts and feelings about her college experience, the work etc. She talks to us about her virtual learning Mudd experience too and we listen and support her. If your kid was not a high communicator before, don’t be surprised if they aren’t a high communicator about their new Mudd virtual learning now. But, if and when they do talk to you, be sure to Listen! And, be supportive.

10. Perfect Pet Pals

Our dog was such a blessing for our daughter. A great “de-stress” mechanism, he liked to go in to her learning space and keep her company. He also had a habit of trying to get into the zoom class lectures with her!

The Resilience of Mudders

When the pandemic erupted last spring I had the typical worries that most human beings had. However, these were accompanied with profound sadness and anger that my 19-year old daughter was being ejected from her developmental trajectory that was rooted in college experiences – both academic and social.

Mudders are familiar with successes… they were the top of their high school classes; they were accepted to Harvey Mudd College. I knew that resilience was important to my daughter’s development. She had demonstrated it magnificently during her freshman year. She had “hit the wall” – as most Mudders do – and sought out peers and professors to regroup and succeed. She had persevered through the first one and one half semesters of core – in some areas which were not her “favorites”. She had navigated relationships, independence, and the struggles which come with them. But now everything that had become familiar was abruptly suspended on her 19 th birthday. I was disheartened and irritated…”now what?!” I asked myself.

I have learned that it was not my daughter’s resilience that I should be worried about, but rather my worries! She has repeatedly made “lemonade out of lemons”. My job was and is to acknowledge her resilient accomplishments. She has effectively problem-solved and clearly articulated her decision-making processes related to many, continuous hurdles. She adapted to home life, one which was more isolated than pre-pandemic due to stay-at-home orders, instead of dorm life. She navigated emergency-remote learning and long-distance friendships via technology. She persevered through the uncertainty of summer research; she learned how to handle the disappointment of her original summer plans (residence and research) being obliterated and reached out and found new research opportunities. She self-assessed and decided to return to HMC for fall 2020 when her close friends made alternate plans; she knew she wanted campus life and her biology lab. She preserved through the next weeks of uncertainty as LA County cases increased. She made and solidified plans within 20 hours of HMC’s inability to open for fall 2020 with a group of peers in which she only knew one student. She made an outreach to an-almost stranger/HMC sophomore to be his roommate. She boarded a plane on 8-23-2020 to an unknown city, to live in an unfamiliar community (and ended up the first night sleeping alone in an empty (no furniture nor roommate) apartment on top of a pile of yoga mats!) She, and her seven fellow students, have formed a bubble and embraced their “new normal” – as they navigate the last semester of core – “death core”, adjusted to their new surroundings, and have formed a hiking club for their PE credit.

I am sure many Mudd parents have similar stories –some in which their child has demonstrated more resilience and others in which there has been less. Regardless of the amount, it is resilience! I have seen similar posts on our HMC families’ Facebook site. It is wonderful to see/read these stories and know that my experience is not an isolated one. I am a college professor, and I have watched my own students, who typically have numerous environmental and financial obstacles to overcome, persevere in this “covid-world”. I am progressing on my own developmental task as a parent of a young adult, and beginning to worry a little less and appreciate my child’s growth more. I have been able to see and appreciate that she is still on her correct developmental trajectory, it is just on a bumpier and different road that the one my husband and I imagined.

Melissa Lane P23

A Parent Reflection on the Mudd Experience

by Dianne Stober P19
July 2, 2019

Hannah Slocumb ‘19 and Adam R. Johnson, Professor of Chemistry                              HMC Commencement, May 2019

As the parent of a recent graduate, I would like to give the “newer” families a glimpse of the future. I’m in Irvine this week, helping our daughter move into her graduate school apartment. Four years flew by soooo fast. So much growth, plenty of challenges and I can say that Mudd has launched her well. As one of eleven chemistry majors graduating this past year, she has had amazing lab and research experience (huge kudos to the profs in the Chemistry department–especially Profs Johnson, Van Hecke, Hawkins and Karukstis) and landed a great spot at UC Irvine. We tried to “hold things loosely” in terms of what major she chose when we dropped her off in the fall of 2015 and it’s been amazing to see her find her path, along with the support and help of fellow students, faculty and staff. Make no mistake, it’s a hard road full of hard work and challenges. It wasn’t always easy for her, but nevertheless, she persisted. She took advantage of opportunities beyond campus, including an amazing semester in China and a winter break trip to London as part of the Dickens-Hardy class (wow, I wish I could take that class!). And after a wonderful graduation celebration and a break to travel and relax, she’s now getting ready to launch her graduate career. For those of you who have read to this point, I hope you take away a sense of what Mudd makes possible. For those of you who have children currently attending Mudd, I wish them every success. Enjoy watching your children bloom and grow.

Wellness Coaching – First Year/Transfer Parents

Wellness Coaching for Parents Discover the Collaborative Process for Positive Support and Change with Susan Howard P17. During these uncharted times, we are experiencing many different situations that are unfamiliar to us. As a National Board Certified Health and Wellness Coach and an expert with a Masters in Integrative Wellness, Howard’s guidance will provide the ability to support and collaborate with scientific, evidence-based approaches in creating positive outcomes.

Wellness Coaching – Returning Parents

Wellness Coaching for Parents Discover the Collaborative Process for Positive Support and Change with Susan Howard P17. During these uncharted times, we are experiencing many different situations that are unfamiliar to us. As a National Board Certified Health and Wellness Coach and an expert with a Masters in Integrative Wellness, Howard’s guidance will provide the ability to support and collaborate with scientific, evidence-based approaches in creating positive outcomes.