Hi future Yalies! Welcome to Bulldog Days — I hope you’re enjoying Yale so far. I confess, I’m writing this with a tear in one eye. It’s partially due to fatigue, but mainly because I’m not long for Yale. As a senior, I’m told that Yale cannot go on educating me unless I apply to one of their graduate programs. I’m also told that I’ve missed the relevant deadlines and failed to accrue the relevant skills to do this.
So I’m off to the real world. But this isn’t time for despair; it’s a time to reflect on all the good things Yale has given me, and to pass along some of my grizzled, crotchety-old-man wisdom to you, the future of Yale.
That is, assuming that whole 2012 thing isn’t real.
Here, then, is a sampling of some of the things you can expect from Yale, and some helpful tips to guide you along your way.
Free pizza. Sound good? I imagine you’ve already been exposed to free pizza as a pre-frosh, but if you haven’t, fear not: you will. In fact, obtaining free pizza will be one of your most pressing concerns as an undergraduate. The lengths to which you will go to obtain said pizza will depend on several variables, but the most important is this: Where did the pizza come from? If it’s standard Yorkside fare, you might amble out of your room if it’s being offered nearby. But if that pizza is from BAR, you will run barefoot across campus in the pouring rain for it and not regret it one bit.
But who’s offering that free pizza, you ask? This brings us to our next topic: Yale undergraduate organizations. By my count Yale has tens of thousands of these student groups, many of them worth joining. If you like juggling, for instance, you can take up with the Yale Anti-Gravity Society. If you like political debate, you can swing by the Yale Political Union. If you’re into manned spaceflights to the outer gaseous planets, you can probably get funding for it.
But what if you’re not a juggler or debater or astronaut? Fear not! Yale has something for everybody. If you’re a singer, a cappella groups will find you and ask you to sing for them. They will do this relentlessly. If you’re interested in environmentally-conscious fundraising through dance, there’s a group for that. The point is that Yale’s student body is one of the most diverse and interesting groups of people in the world, and they all like free pizza. So they form groups to make it happen.
You might also be wondering about classes. If you’re thinking of Directed Studies, take it! I took it, and I went into it with every possible reservation. I thought the kids would be uptight and pretentious (they weren’t); I thought I would be brainwashed by Plato and his cohort of dead bearded white men (I wasn’t); and I thought it would ruin my social life (it didn’t; I did that on my own, thank you). Similarly, if you’re thinking of Perspectives on Science, I imagine there are probably some interesting perspectives to be offered.
Kidding aside, this is an amazing moment for you. Your years at Yale will truly be some of the best of your life. The opportunities you’ll get here and the friends you’ll make will stay with you forever. You don’t need to feel pressure to define yourself right away, and you don’t need to feel like you’re in competition with anyone. You’ve all made it here — it wasn’t easy, but here we are. The important thing is to enjoy it and keep it with us.
River Clegg is a senior in Davenport College.