A Day at Webb Institute
For any prospective Webb students, this sums up a typical freshman year day at Webb based on my first-hand experience.
My alarm goes off and I slam the snooze button. I didn’t get to bed until 3 AM last night in order to finish up a Naval Architecture 1 (NA1) project which is due today.
After 10 precious minutes I roll out of bed in my dorm room in the main building, where most of the male freshmen and sophomores live.
Even though it’s only been a few months I have settled into the rhythm of life at my new home.
I sit down to breakfast in the dining hall on Main Deck (ground floor). Pancakes and bacon!
One of the best things about Webb is that all of the meals are prepared for you. You’re served three meals a day and you don’t even have to clean up your plates afterwards. The fact that you eat at long tables in a wood-paneled Hogwarts-esque dining hall overlooking the Long Island Sound is the final cherry on top of it all.
It’s a full morning of lectures with Calculus, NA1, and Physics 1 on the agenda today. (the Fall semester curriculum might have changed since I graduated by the way)
At Webb each class (Freshmen, Sophomores, etc.) has their own classroom and the professors come to them for the lectures. All students also have their own drafting desk in the classrooms, where they can keep their laptop and books, and work on assignments. The classrooms, as well as the library, the athletic building, and most of the other student facilities are unlocked and open 24 hours a day every day.
During the 10-minute breaks in between lectures I check my emails at my desk. An innocent email I sent out to my class asking about a set of dumbbells missing from the student athletic building has morphed and gone viral throughout the entire student body. Photoshopped images of animals and babies holding 500 lb dumbbells fill my computer screen. At least Webbies have a sense of humor…
The bell rings and we all head down to lunch. Deli day! Yes! It’s a student favorite.
After lunch a couple of other students and I go for a quick walk in Welwyn Nature Preserve, which borders the campus. Miles of trails wind their way through the forests, beaches, and marshland of the park. You can see the top of the Empire State Building from the campus, but the greenery of the area around Webb makes it a hidden oasis within bustling Greater New York.
It’s Chemistry and Technical Communication in the afternoon. The professors make sure we are well-rounded engineers who can speak proper English!
15:00 – 17:30
As soon as the bell rings after the end of today’s last class, everyone rushes out of the classroom to go outside and play sports, or participate in one of the other extra-curricular activities Webb has to offer. Since Webb is a maritime school and has its own beach, many of the activities revolve around water, such as sailing, fishing, waterskiing, etc.
One of my classmates who pulled an all-nighter the night before decides to skip the activities and collapses on the couch in the classroom instead. A couple others disappear to their rooms to probably do the same.
As I walk out of the classroom I leave my phone, my wallet, and my laptop on top of my drafting desk. Webb’s honor code, which is an integral part of the student culture, means that I don’t have to worry about anyone stealing them.
The sun sets over the water as we have another meal overlooking the water.
18:15 – 21:00
I spend a few hours after dinner studying and working on assignments.
Before I applied to Webb I took a tour of the campus to see what it was like firsthand. At one point I asked the tour guide what the students did in the evenings. She politely muffled her laughter but I could tell I had asked a dumb question. “They do their assignments of course,” she replied.
And she was right. With only about three hours of homework and studying required this evening, I consider it a light night. Just before exams and holidays is when it gets really busy and the sleep deprivation and stress turn most of the student body into shuffling red-eyed zombies, incapable of all communication except for the most basic human speech.
I might have been an academic big-shot in my Texas high school, but at Webb I have to work harder than I ever had before just to keep up with the rest of my class, most of whom got near-perfect scores on their SATs. Thankfully academics at Webb is not a competition though. The professors and students are all extremely supportive and help each other get through the hard times.
After the “light” night of studying I decide to head to the local YMCA and swim some laps. Every student has a free membership to the Y, which is only a mile from campus.
When I return and park my car at Webb I pass a group of underclassmen, who are braving the cold and taking a walk to one of the local parks or beaches with some “refreshing” beverages in hand. On the way to the freshmen classroom I walk through the student pub where several upperclassmen are finishing a beer pong tournament.
Webbies work hard. But they play even harder.
22:30 – 00:30
I return to the freshman classroom and attempt to study for an upcoming exam but I get lured into a raucous debate with my classmates about the pros and cons of the location for the student ski trip this coming March.
The debate is ended with the “thwack” of a Nerf dart hitting me directly in the forehead. Someone has bought some Nerf guns from a local thrift shop and an all-out war has erupted. Between the pranks, lively debates, and impromptu dance parties there is always something going on in the classroom, which acts as the social and academic epicenter of student life.
Since I am unarmed and defenseless I check my emails one last time and decide to call it a night. I make a break for it while dodging the barrage of darts flying between the two factions that have set up barricades on opposite sides of the classroom.
I collapse into my bed after another day at one of the best places on Earth. It all starts again tomorrow.