Finding Your Space in Third Form


Sophie Conroy '19

Lower schoolers gathering in the mall.

After sports and dinner, a pack of third formers plop down on the mall couches. It’s 6:30, so there is plenty of time before study hall. What better way to spend it than crammed among new friends? Spending time in the mall is a rite of passage for third formers. It is where they introduce themselves to their new classmates, where they make first impressions, and where they begin to find people with whom they share interests.

Nevertheless, when my peers began gathering in the mall in the fall of 2015, I had difficulty understanding the allure of the space. For the first few nights after move-in day, it seemed as though my entire form was packed in the mall playing games like big booty, blasting music, and adding one another on Snapchat. I felt as though I was at summer camp. Reluctantly, I too would go down to the mall and participate in these activities, hoping in the back of my mind that there was more to Groton than this.

As weeks passed, people continued to socialize in the mall, and I dreaded when someone would suggest that I join them. My workload began to pick up, and I needed time outside of study hall to complete it. But when I walked into Brooks House and saw a massive clump of kids each evening, I felt as if no one else were studying, and I wasn’t the kind of person who could sit in my room memorizing declensions while the rest of my form was hanging out in the mall.

Although I didn’t like the mall, I feared missing out, and I was afraid that I wouldn’t make friends quickly if I spent too much time doing work. Like many third formers, I spent the early fall trying to keep up with everyone else. If I saw people in the mall, it was time for the mall; I would study only when everyone else decided to do so. For a few months, many people in my form followed an identical schedule, rarely spending time alone or on meaningful pursuits.

Since Groton’s schedule already provides rigid structure, sustaining constant socialization on top of that is exhausting. There is no need to walk to breakfast with your entire dorm, study in massive groups, or waste hours in the mall.

While making friends is integral to a smooth transition to Groton, it will happen with time, and trying to keep up with a group will only cause unnecessary stress. Sitting in the mall is not where you will make lasting memories, and the sooner you begin to manage your time to match your goals the better off you will be.

As third form winter approached, I began realizing this, and as the year went on many of my peers began to become more self-reliant as well. Spending time alone will help you cope with your transition to Groton and find outlets that allow you to grow.

To the third form: if you walk into Brooks House and watch your peers sit down on the couches until study hall, and you are disappointed that this is not the Groton you anticipated – it doesn’t have to be. Instead of joining the herd, take advantage of the opportunities that are all around you by going to a club meeting, spending time in the art center, or running the Triangle in the woods. Once you begin to see all that Groton has to offer, you will forget the mall.