Freshman year of college is a big year. It’s not the most challenging in terms of academics (although it may be, depending on how well you transition to college classes) but it is – or at least has been built up to be – the biggest year in terms of establishing yourself socially at whatever university you happen to be attending. Freshman year, at least according to what society would have us believe, is colored by bad roommates and many a student’s first raucous party experiences. We’re flooded with “college” movies and all the things our high school guidance counselors tell us about college life. So, needless to say, I had a whole set of expectations deeply ingrained in my mind as to what my first year of college would be like. I expected insane parties – the likes of which my small hometown had never seen – and enormous lecture hall classes, pretty girls throwing themselves at studly college guys like myself and about the same amount of work as the latter half of my senior year of high school.
I think it safe to say that my freshman year of college was none of these things. Well, the parties were pretty good, but not even they were what I expected.
First and foremost, my workload was far more intense than I could ever have imagined, especially in the second semester. This isn’t to say that I wasn’t well prepared to handle it – and, in fact, I feel duty-bound to thank all the teachers and administrators at Montgomery High School in little Skillman, New Jersey for providing me with the best preparation I could have asked for – but to contrast starkly with the almost-nonexistent workload I carried during those last few months of high school. Five-page papers, usually the most I would have been expected to write at MHS, became the norm for many of my classes. Research papers extended up to 20 pages and sometimes had to be written in Spanish. A challenge, to be sure, but, ultimately, nothing I wasn’t capable of handling.
As far as extra-curricular activities are concerned, I had been ingrained from my first days of high school with the knowledge that these activities were of the utmost importance and were to be undertaken in as large a quantity as was possible. This I did, especially in my second semester. However, I learned that there is a certain balance that must be struck between the amount of time I wanted to devote to the innumerable activities available at Emory and the amount of time a human being can reasonably devote to these activities while still maintaining an acceptable GPA.
The defining feature of my second semester would, much to my surprise, come to be fraternity rush and the pledge process that followed it. I came to Emory not so much opposed to Greek life, but of the opinion that I had a wide spectrum of interests that simply weren’t compatible with fraternity activities. Regardless, I decided to rush and was surprised by what I found: fraternities at Emory were more than just packs of bros interested in chugging beer and hitting on the freshman girls I was supposed to be getting with. They defied the common Greek stereotype perpetuated by the college movie genre and I ended up finding a fraternity that I felt quite comfortable pledging. While, for the sake of length, I won’t go into detail about what the pledge process entailed, it helped me learn a lot about myself and what I was truly capable of.
Freshman year is a time for new experiences, but these new experiences ended up not being quite what I expected. I was challenged by schoolwork and learned exactly how many activities I could fit into a day while still remaining sane. I defied my own expectations of Greek life and joined a fraternity, learning valuable life lessons along the way. Sure, college is hard and, no, it’s not quite what the media says it is but if my freshman year is any indication as to what the next three years will be like, I can’t wait to get back.
Have a great summer, Emory!
Asst. Editorials Editor Nicholas Bradley is a College freshman from Skillman, N.J.