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 »
The bottom line of college orientation is that it’s a paradox: feeling simultaneously deeply comforted and entirely thrown off your axis, spinning rapidly towards the unknown. Or at least, that’s what orientation was like for me.
This paradox manifested itself at the very beginning of the journey from Ohio to New York. After posting my obligatory, “Leaving for college. Thanks for the memories everybody!” Facebook status, I packed all of my earthly belongings into the family car. That’s when I realized that all of my earthly belongings fit into the family car. While the reality of this totally satisfied the fatalist in me (look how easy it would be for me to escape with so little materialistic baggage to weigh me down once the zombie apocalypse hits — yippee!) it also left me reeling. It only underscored the fact that the home I was leaving, the home I had grown up in and considered my own, really wasn’t mine any more. Everything that grounded me to my house was stuffed into the car, ready to be shipped off to what is essentially a linoleum-floored, whitewashed box. Statements I had made with confidence ever since I clicked submit on my electronic application quickly turned to questions: This is what I want? I’m excited? I’m ready to be on my own? Keep reading »