There was a moment sometime during the weekend before finals week that I looked up from the copious U.N.-related documents assigned by my Intro to Human Rights professor that I had somehow failed to read during the semester and realized: “Holy shit my first year of college is basically over.”
I thought back to about a year before and tried to remember what I thought finishing my freshman year would feel like. I guess I thought I’d be far more sophisticated, secure and grown up in general. In reality — at least at that moment at time —I just felt a hell of a lot more stressed. But the truth is, I learned a lot over the past year, even if that transformation manifested in a number of small ways rather than one grand overhaul of my childish naivete.
So here are just a few pieces of advice for rising freshmen from somebody who just finished being one. Keep reading »
For years, I’ve mostly defined myself in terms of my almost single-minded focus on my ambitions and goals. However, I wasn’t always like that. I don’t know when (probably sometime in middle school or early high school) but, at some point, I came to the conclusion that if I wanted to achieve all of the goals that plenty of people seemed to enjoy telling me were unachievable, I would have to be completely devoted to making those dreams a reality, especially as a woman. Admittedly, I never felt discriminated against at school based on my gender or felt denied anything because I’m a girl. Yet it always seemed to me that boys were taken more seriously than girls. Toughness came easily to them; it was expected of them. As a girl, I had to choose between being seen as sweet and funny or smart and driven. I felt like an either/or situation, despite my identification with aspects of both. I knowingly chose to try to achieve my goals, academic and otherwise, which, in my opinion, left me appearing “serious” and unfeminine.
I spent the first semester of college carrying on this persona. In a sense it paid off: I got great grades. And yet, in order to achieve those grades, I felt I had completely blocked myself off from other important college experiences. I realized that I should be happier about my academic accomplishment. Instead, I just felt hollow, like I was missing out on something more. Keep reading »
When I thought about what my college experience would be like as a high schooler, I never for a second even slightly entertained the faintest thought of joining a sorority. As a self-identified feminist, as someone who thought Chapstick was a full face of makeup, and as someone who had about as much interest in enduring mosh pits of grinding frat boys as she did in microbial taxonomy (read: none) I had zero interest in what I, frankly, saw as an antiquated, possibly even anti-feminist and insulting tradition. Which is why when I pressed “send” on my Columbia University sorority recruitment application last December, nobody was more surprised than I was. Keep reading »
When I initially began the college application process, I had absolutely no interest in attending a single sex institution. In fact, I knew exactly what I wanted in a school. I wanted to go to a small liberal arts college in New York City that was full of intelligent, impassioned and driven students; dedicated professors who would take a personal interest in their students rather than put them on the backburner in favor of their own research or hand them over to TAs; an amazing alumni network with plentiful internship opportunities; an excellent women’s studies department; and an emphasis on writing across the board. And that school is Barnard College — a school that also happens to be single sex. Keep reading »
The number one question my high school friends ask me when we chat now is, “So are you sick of being around all those girls yet?” Despite the fact that I have attempted to explain my decision to attend a women’s college a seemingly infinite amount of times, I always answer ”no.” Being around women has been a really supportive experience, a nice change of pace and a really beneficial academic experience so far.
Or at least that was my answer up until finals. Keep reading »
I’m not sure I’ve ever felt anything quite like the relief I experienced after my last class before Thanksgiving break. It was noon on Wednesday – the day before Thanksgiving itself – and it seemed like everybody else had left except for me. I swear I saw Western-style dust balls blowing across my urban campus as I practically sprinted back from class, ready to pack my things and head out.
It’s not that I was dying to leave school; for all intents and purposes, I think of school as my home, my box of a dorm room as my very own. But I was so ready to eat copious, borderline disgustingly indulgent amounts of home-cooked food. I daydreamed of taking a shower without shower shoes. And then, there was the prospect of seeing my high school friends – people with whom I could move past basic conversational topics, people who already knew all my stories because they were in them. Keep reading »
In high school, I embodied a lack of school spirit. I went to two football games my entire high school career and left halfway through both of them. It wasn’t that I thought I was too cool to support my peers. It wasn’t that I hated my school with a burning passion (well, not really). My lackluster feelings of school spirit can probably be traced back to the fact that I don’t understand or really like sports (and there were few things to support other than sports) and that my school as a whole wasn’t exactly teeming with spirit. Keep reading »
In high school, I had a single group of really close friends. Yes, I had other friends outside of that core group, but those five girls were unequivocally my best friends – the ones with whom I shared monumental milestones, the ones I could talk about everything or nothing with for hours on end. When I left for college, I couldn’t fathom ever replacing them. I wondered if I would ever find a group of friends that close again.
But here’s the thing: I haven’t made another group of really close friends. And the fact that I haven’t has actually been a blessing. Keep reading »
I suspect that it is a universal (and perverse) hobby of college upperclassmen and graduates alike to terrify rising freshman with cautionary roommate stories of horror. This past summer, it seemed like all I had to do was mention the fact that I was about to start college and aforementioned upperclassmen/graduates would inquire about my roommate situation. Did I request a roommate? Did I know who she was? Until a couple of weeks before I left for school, the answers were always “no” and “I did not.” Apparently, these honest answers were basically invitations to terrify me with stories of the ill-adjusted and insane human beings assigned to live with whomever I might have been talking to. So, believe me, I was prepared for the worst.
Keep reading »