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A Love Letter to Freshmen

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Freshman Class,

I love you.

Sorry, was that weird?  Too forward?  Let me start again:

You’ve had a lot of advice thrown at you in the past few weeks.  Don’t use a tray.  Don’t wear your lanyard.  Don’t fall in love.  Don’t call your parents every night.  And this advice should not be wholly ignored; we upperclassmen can have precious nuggets of wisdom. Often, however, such advice comes from our own insecurities.

“What do you mean by that, Scotty?”

Well, for one, we don’t want to think about the goofy, immature things we did our freshman years.  We want you to avoid freshman mistakes because we’re embarrassed by our freshman mistakes.

Like this jacket.  This jacket was a mistake.  (Spring ‘14.)

But our motives get even less pure.  We also focus on freshman mistakes because it takes the focus off of our current shortcomings.  I read Cairn’s blog post on 10 Mistakes College Freshmen Make and How to Avoid Them.  What made me most uncomfortable about the article (besides its unseemly colossus of a title) was that I commit at least four of these mistakes regularly.  I’m still figuring this college thing out.  But if I can put more distance between you and me, it makes me feel better about my own mess.

Impure motives aside, you freshman are taking our advice pretty well.  I don’t see any trays at lunch anymore.  Neck-lanyards, too, are rarer every day.

But with these “do’s” and “don’ts” lists comes the insinuation that, until you succumb to a certain list of social criteria, you’re not one of us. And that’s baloney.

Freshmen, you’re the lifeblood of this campus.  You cheer the loudest, sing the strongest and always sit in the front row.  Your obnoxious enthusiasm makes up for our jaded cynicism.  You remind us of more than our mistakes.  You remind us why we started coming here in the first place.

Why am I writing this?  First, I want you to know that you are wanted here.  Second, I want you to know you have the freedom to screw up.  Your purpose here is larger than living a fully functional adult life.  That will come in time.

Before long, you’ll be stressing out about internships, marriage engagements, and parking at Penndel.  There’s no need to rush the process.  For now…

  1. Use a tray.

Sometimes you need more than one course at a time.  There’s no reason to wait for your salad till after your soup is done.

  1. Wear a lanyard.

Some of the sophomores are still doing it.  You may be the ones to finally solidify its “cool” status.

  1. Carry your schedule with you.

Better to look like a dork and get to the right place than to stylishly barge into the wrong class.

  1. Join all the clubs.

Overcommit, plan for 36-hour days, and then gradually weed out the things that you like the least.

  1. Fall in love.

It probably won’t work out.  But maybe it will!!

  1. Make awkward, stilted conversation.

The deep stuff will come in time, but “What’s your name?” and “What’s your major?” will do for now.

You’re wanted and you’re one of us.  Shine on, you crazy diamonds.  Shine on.

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  1. Maggie Wilson
    October 1, 2015 at 8:10 pm

    Hahaha is rule #2 a reference to me??? I’d be incredibly honored haha btw, this is really wonderful.

  2. Rahman
    October 3, 2015 at 7:38 am

    Thank you brother for your words of wisdom. This letter is quite well written and relevant to the class of 2019 and us who were before them. Keep writing Scotty.

  3. Dunlap
    October 6, 2015 at 3:49 pm

    What a last line! These points are well taken. Break the status quo, Freshman! (And hey, if you can do that in English Comp research paper I’d be all the more happy. :0) ) love, Prof. Dunlap

  4. Lisa Yoder
    October 21, 2015 at 11:25 am

    Great “letter” Scotty! Thanks for encouraging the freshman!

  5. Andrew Allers
    October 31, 2015 at 2:40 pm

    Best piece I’ve read on The Scroll. Shine on, Scotty.