Investigating the lives of college early birds

When people think of college students, “early risers” isn’t usually a phrase that comes to mind. Yet there are many Colby students who prefer to start their days early, such as Lily Herrmann ’19. She says she generally gets up around 7:30 a.m. because of her early classes, but enjoys waking up early even when she doesn’t have those classes because she feels like she has more time to prepare for her day. “Usually, if I’m not finishing up homework in the morning, I enjoy just laying in my bed and catching up on the news,” Herrmann said.

Nick Pattison ’18 also enjoys getting up early: “I like the morning. It’s quieter.” If he’s not doing work, Pattison says he’ll often go for a walk or work in the pottery studio.

But what are the benefits of getting up early? For Herrmann, it’s knowing that she has the full day ahead of her, and, of course, the shorter lines in Dana. Pattison says that he enjoys the company of other early risers at breakfast. “You get this cool group of people who go to breakfast that early, and they’re all well-driven, nice people.” 

Getting up early seems to be a positive experience for those who have worked it into their routines–night owls, be warned, though. Changing your schedule is tough, and it takes time. I speak from experience.

To better understand why people love the morning hours, I attempted to get up early as well. I usually wake up at 8:30 a.m., and I’m only up by then because I have a 9:00 a.m. class. To fit in with the early birds, I tried to wake up at 6:45 a.m. to be like the people who arrive at Dana around 7:00 a.m. when it opens. It didn’t work. I initially woke up right on time, but I was so tired that I just laid in my bed until 7:30 a.m. When I finally got out of bed, I felt like I was still asleep, and I’m amazed that I was actually able to get dressed and out the door. To be fair, both Pattison and Herrmann said waking up is the hardest part for them. I was just less successful. I made it to the dining hall by 7:50 a.m., but I couldn’t stand the idea of talking to anyone, so I brought in work and sat alone.


Wilder Davies

After I had woken up a bit, I started to see some positive differences. During my classes I was more alert and had a much easier time focusing on things. While doing homework I finished significantly more assignments than I usually do, which is largely because I was able to stay fully on task.  Despite expecting to take a nap later in the day because of my early-morning adventure, I found that I didn’t need it.

Looking back at the morning, it’s easy to see why Pattison and Herrmann enjoy waking up early. My dorm was quiet, and there wasn’t anyone to compete with for counter space in the bathroom. In Dana, there weren’t any lines, even though I got there much later than I had hoped. It was also much more quiet than usual, which made it the perfect place to study. This isn’t to say there wasn’t any conversation at all; much to the contrary, there were plenty of people having breakfast together, which provided nice background noise. Even though I study on the third floor of Miller, it’s nice to know that people can talk above a whisper sometimes. And when it was time for my class to start, I felt more awake and engaged than when I had when I slept in.

Though my mission to wake up early technically failed, there are certainly many benefits to being an early riser, whether it’s having enough time to finish work or to catching breakfast with a unique group of people. For those who would like to become early risers but aren’t quite there yet, here’s some advice: build up to the time at which you’d like to wake up. I jumped straight into waking up at 6:45 a.m., and it didn’t go so well. Going in increments will make the switch seem more achievable, and you’ll have more time to adjust to a new routine. For those who have no interest in waking up early: try it, even if it’s only once (all-nighters don’t count). The morning is a unique, calm time, and at the very least you’ll be able to skip the Dana breakfast lines.

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