Welcome to UB; now don’t be dumb
Published: Saturday, June 23, 2012
Updated: Monday, November 5, 2012 20:11
I applied to 10 colleges.
UB wasn’t even in my top five. I didn’t want to go here. In fact, I remember sitting at lunch at my freshman orientation last year asking myself: “how the hell did I wind up here?”
The answer is: money.
I decided to be fiscally responsible and not go to my dream school, Syracuse University. By “decided” I mean, my dad explained how long I’d be paying off student loans until I felt like a moron for ever believing all the people I met with at the school that promised it’d be worth it.
I also hate the people who made it seem like I was guaranteed a scholarship. Newhouse – Syracuse’s prestigious journalism program – doesn’t really give out scholarships; I found out that little factoid the hard way.
You always hear that you can’t put a price on happiness, but Syracuse University did, and it was $55,000 a year. Almost everything I did in high school was to get into that program. Every AP class, every “A+,” every extracurricular – was to impress the Newhouse admissions board. I knew I wanted to be a journalist and in my mind a fancy private school was the only way to make that happen.
I applied to 10 schools because I’m insane; I really only wanted to go to one. When I had to face the financial baggage, I was miserable. I always thought getting in would be the hard part. But something about living in a cardboard box after college doesn’t seem worth it – I wasn’t totally willing to admit that this time last year.
The point of this column isn’t to get you to hate private schools and their exorbitant tuition rates – it’s to tell you that I love college. I love UB. If I can get to that point, I’m convinced anyone can. I’m not going to make the cliché statement that “everything happens for a reason” but I can honestly say, I’m supposed to be dawning blue and white, and not orange.
I used to think I had to go away to school to find out who I wanted to be as a young adult (which is an elaborate misconception so many of us seem to carry), but it turns out all it took was a 20 minute car ride and a walk into The Spectrum’soffice. I found myself here. I found this wonderful newspaper, with wonderful people, and I found out that I don’t need Newhouse to be a journalist.
But as a freshman, you’re entering a notoriously apathetic school, with a huge commuter base. It’s easy to accept defeat and become just one of 18,000 undergrads with no defining experiences in your freshman year. I came pretty damn close to doing that myself.
When I decided to take the spend-the-least-amount-of-money-possible approach to college, this included the decision to live at home. A lot of people who make that choice also decide they’re going to be antisocial. They treat college like a phase they’re just passing on through. At the end they will get some fancy piece of paper that will hopefully get them an equally as fancy job, and the in between doesn’t matter much.
They go to class, they go home, they go to their crappy part-time job, and they hang out with friends that went to the high school they graduated from – maybe picking up a few equally as apathetic UB friends along the way from other suburbs.
I almost didn’t join the newspaper. It took a push from talking to people who are actually journalists for me to realize I wasn’t screwed, and that UB could be a lot more than I originally slated it out to be. Your college experience is whatever you choose to make it. I was planning my transfer out before the semester even started. Don’t do that. Give Victor E. Bull a chance.
So a shout out to my fellow commuters – don’t feed the apathy like I almost did. I get it. UB was the smart choice, but you don’t really want to be here. In your mind all the “rah rah, go Bulls!” being crammed down your throat at orientation is for the people getting the real college experience. The ones who are excited to be here and are from Long Island or out of state – the ones that are dorming, the ones that got out of where they grew up.
This is your college experience, too, just as much as it is anyone else’s. Meet people at orientation. Don’t stick to the kids you went to high school with. As painful and awkward as you think it may be – talk to strangers.
I made my first UB friend at orientation because we had the same sneakers.
When you live 20 minutes away from campus, leaving orientation early is going to be extremely tempting and overwhelmingly appealing. All my high school friends did it. But I’m pleading with you to stay. No matter how hot, or boring, or stupid it seems, just stay. UB’s your second home now, and you never know who you’re going to meet or what niche you may discover and see yourself fitting into.
I was ignorant to think because I grew up around here, UB would offer me few new experiences. I want to laugh at how idiotic and childish I was. At age 18, I hadn’t done it all, and a year later – I still haven’t. Even after I graduate, I’ll still be learning about this area and this school, and as corny as it sounds, about myself.
Embrace where you are. Chances are, you’re supposed to be here.