Welcome to College, class of 2011!

The time has arrived to stand and give our incoming freshmen a round of applause and a pat on the back.

To the class of 2011: my congratulations to you is much more than a pleasantry or empty platitude. You have every reason to be proud of your acceptance to this institution of higher learning and to look ahead with ambition and optimism.

Why be proud of your acceptance to the College? Well, look no further than the state and national accolades that our school has garnered in recent years. The College has come a long way since its beginnings as the Normal School for Teachers established in 1855 by Gov. Rodman Price. However, the general public does not yet fully comprehend that the status the College holds now is in the ranks of stellar institutions of higher learning.

I can guarantee that you will often run into the situation of friendly dialogue with someone who asks you where you attend school. Your response will obviously be “TCNJ, The College of New Jersey,” upon which you’ll see an expression on the face of the person as if you’ve just spoken another language. Then you will have to say “Well, it was formerly Trenton State, but now it’s TCNJ.” Then, an “Oh, yes, Trenton State.” will inevitably follow.

I know this will happen because of my own personal experiences. But, don’t be discouraged that the name of the College does not get the same reaction as the name of a more well-known institution. Rest assured with the knowledge that you are attending what US News & World Report calls the “best public institution in the northern region of the country,” which makes the College the best public school in the state as well. Even more impressive is its place on the “Top 75 Most Competitive” list of colleges by Barron’s Profile of American Colleges.

As the old adage “knowledge is power” goes, these facts should encourage and propel you to make the most of your freshman year here at the College. You have already proven that you have the ambition and will to excel simply by being accepted, now you need to apply it to your experience as a student. I guarantee that what you will receive in results will reflect what you put into it.

There is a plethora of activities and resources that can enhance your experience at the College, not only academically, but socially as well. Get involved in a campus ministry of your faith, attend a political club that reflects your political persuasion, join a cultural club that reflects your heritage, write for the school paper, volunteer with the Bonner Center, reach out to those you don’t know and make new friends.

Your acceptance here is no little achievement, nor is it a minor change of routine. It is a door opened to a world of opportunities, a place to excel and grow, to celebrate and further your success. Savor this time and make the most of it, because before you know it, you’ll be graduating!