Your story can help future students.

The transition to college can be difficult for many students, socially and academically. These difficulties are often made worse by students’ perception that they are the only ones who are struggling. You may be in a position to help! We want to develop a collection of stories about working through social or academic difficulties during the first year of college, to help future students realize they are not alone. If you have a story to share, check out the submission guidelines below. We will offer a $100 award for each story that we select.

Believe it or not, the simple act of reading and reflecting on other students’ stories of overcoming difficulties has been shown to make a big difference in students' lives. It reduces depression and anxiety, encourages students to seek support, and improves students' chances of graduating. Accepted stories will be developed into a compilation that will be given to students to read and reflect on when they enter college, to help them adjust socially and academically.


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Submission Guidelines

If you are interested in submitting a story and would like more information, you may contact Jessica Gifford at or 413-548-4688. Please follow the guidelines below when writing your submission.

  • Please submit your letter by email to Jessica Gifford by April 30, 2018
  • Your submission should be in the form of a letter, written directly to students in the incoming class, from you (e.g. Dear New Student, Dear You, Hello, Best Wishes, Sincerely).
  • You may choose to sign your letter with your own name, create a pseudonym for yourself, or have a pseudonym assigned to your letter.
  • Letters may be as short as 1-2 paragraphs, and no longer than one page, double-spaced.
  • Your letter should describe an experience or time that was difficult for you during your first year of college, and how you got through it. Try to keep your story relatable to students who do not attend your college. Please describe specific challenges or struggles, such as:
    • Social difficulties, such as making friends, or finding your place
    • Academic difficulties, such as adjusting to the workload, poor grades, or understanding of the material
    • Fears or insecurities related to college
  • Please speak from your own experience, and describe what helped you get through this difficult time. For example:
    • How did you find support?
    • How did you change the way you thought about or responded to the situation?
    • What steps did you take to turn things around?
  • Your story will be more powerful if you are able to:
    • Describe the impact this experience had on you--this may include sharing specific aspects of your personality or identity that affected how you experienced this challenge
    • Convey how you have learned, grown, or changed over time
    • Offer words of encouragement and support, rather than advice or suggestions

Thank you in advance for your time and help with this important effort.

Jessica Gifford, Founder
Thrive: growing wellness