Freshmen: fifth-year high school seniors

A Fresh Perspective

Stephen Kolison

Freshmen can easily become the butt of jokes by any upperclassman. If we were to step back and just pick one aspect of our behavior, you could make a video called “Sh!t Freshmen Say.” Oh wait, there are already 19 of those on YouTube. As a freshman, I can also see why we can become the source of so many zingers and quips: we are still in high school. That is, we are not physically in high school, but our minds and attitudes are still hanging out in the hallways trying to open a locker while flirting with a jock. This high school mentality is not helping our cause. In fact, it is making our freshman experience somewhere between a snafu and a borderline hot mess.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Case Western Reserve University and all of the fellow freshmen that I’ve met so far. College has turned out to be an awesome experience. If we look back to before we came here, I think it is safe to say that a majority of the class of 2017 loved their senior year. To be honest, I loved it a little too much. We are now fresh off this happy experience of leaving the people that we were cooped up with for years, and now we’re making new friends away from home. The first few weeks of college have been filled with that honeymoon stage. We love it so much that we can easily avoid the reality of the situation; for instance, I love CaseCash. I went from $150 in CaseCash to $45 in two weeks. Did you know that stuff was supposed to last us the semester? My odd example further proves that if the real world is not considered, things can start becoming real pretty quickly.

College for us has been like summer camp. Our residence assistant is the camp counselor that monitors us, but is still a friend in a twisted way. We all stay up until two o’clock completely ignoring quiet hours, even though we know that there’s more important things we need to do. This lack of structure is the opposite of what high school offered, and it comes with more responsibility. Some of us interpret this freedom as a time to get into a relationship with the first person we see. I can attest to seeing hand-holding during day four of orientation.

Then again, this sort of behavior, a part of the high school mentality, is probably a coping mechanism for being forced into this awkward situation of college arrival. For example, everyone has met that student that says, “In high school I got a six on my AP calculus test, a 40 on my ACTs, and a 19.00 GPA. I was also president of my entire student body and volunteered as a flying fireman.”

Does anyone really think that that’s still relevant? Do you know why so many girls shave their heads before they get to college? Because they want a new start. College offers a new, clean slate. The fact that we could reinvent ourselves is daunting. We spent four years building up a reputation, making friends, and trying to get into a good college, and some of us are left to wonder what defines us now once we’ve achieved all of that.

When the real world decides to catch up with us, there’s an overwhelming sensation that takes over our feelings. Some days I feel like I am more than a hot mess—I am a burnt mess. Hopefully some of my fellow freshmen can relate. You have two tests back-to-back and a quiz the next day.

You also know for sure that you cannot “get by” any more. You see other people who have their lives together. By the first week of school, they know that they are going to be president of the class while you have no idea what you’re doing tomorrow. In fact, the food at Leutner is the only constant thing in your life at the moment.

Then there are the hundreds of us who are BME and pre-med, or just plain pre-med. When I am asked what I am doing here at CWRU all I can think is, “Do you want to take my shirt off, give you my blood type and my first born child? Because this interview is getting personal.”

Honestly, I just have no clue what I am doing. For some odd reason, I think it is okay to be a little confused so long as you are maintaining some control over your life. I remember officer Mark giving me some advice as I crossed the street: “Take it one week at a time.” And for now, I think that will do.

Stephen Kolison is a first-year biology student. While confining himself to his dorm, he enjoys knitting while watching Game of Thrones and Downton Abbey.