“[Name] posted in Overheard at Yale.” For 3,127 members of the Yale community, this is a notification we receive multiple times a day.
The Facebook group allows all of us on campus to report some of the musings we have heard. Through the page, we have had a virtual seat in Professor Chun’s ‘Introduction to Psychology’ course, sympathized with Californians unaccustomed to wearing numerous sweaters and shared our frustrations about the ever-lasting lines of our Post Office. We also get to hear the things that were almost certainly absent from any information session, interview or college application. The perfect example was posted on Friday night: “Four years of taking APs and SATs from the College Board, and all I really learned was that Chicago is a city.”
Religiously, we flock to the page to mock our peers and the ridiculous things they have said. We laugh because we can’t believe that someone at Yale would be stupid enough to say some of these things. We cringe when they’re so offensive to us that they’re no longer funny at all. Yet scrolling through this page, it dawns on me that these are all Yale students, and I’ve always thought Yale students were the reason that this school remains so distinguished.
And that’s true. But, there’s another reason why we’re addicted to this virtual group. It reminds us that we’re not alone when we lapse into moments of sheer stupidity. Personally, I know that I ask stupid questions and push the doors you’re meant to pull. An unfortunately large number of people saw me slip in the Trumbull dining hall on Thursday night. Normally, I would laugh. I’ve always been clumsy. But, this is Yale. Surely, we are made to believe, all our imperfections must be squeezed out so we can graduate from Yale as accomplished young men and women. And, I’m sure I’m not the only one who was jokingly asked at numerous points in the last few months of high school, “How did you get into Yale?”
At first, it was funny. But, when I do and say these things now, I have to stop myself and remind myself that I’m at Yale. I was part of Yale’s under seven percent admissions rate.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who struggled to come up with a “fun and interesting fact” about myself for my first FroCo meeting or freshman seminar. When sitting amongst people who are international athletes or who have performed at Carnegie Hall, Yale can be a little intimidating. “What’s special about me?” was surely the cry of everyone at some point during our first weeks. And now, every time I say something so mind-numbingly obvious or downright ridiculous, I find myself wondering why the Admissions Office thought it was a good idea to admit me.
But, they did.
They also admitted the freshman who believes he’s Bond James, the person who skips class on Tuesday in order to do IMs and every single student who opened a can of Red Bull at 11:50am in Natural Disasters on Friday. Sometimes, we will encounter people who do and say things that we find amusing. It doesn’t make them stupid, or inferior to anyone else. It makes them a little bit more human.
It can be easy to forget that Yale is my new home. Tourists and prospective students gawk at our supposed superiority and take pictures of our statues and us. College Confidential addicts ask if we’re robots or genetic mutations. It might be our best-kept secret, but I think “Overheard at Yale” is proof that students at Yale are, in some ways, normal.
So, every time I visit the page, I am reminded that I am not alone. There is someone else who needs a Fahrenheit to Celsius cheat sheet, and someone else who didn’t know what a possum was. I can be assured that for every ridiculous comment I make, there is numerous other students making equally ridiculous claims. So, next time you see me fall down and laugh, remember that I got into Yale too. We all did.
Stephanie Addenbrooke is a freshman in Jonathan Edwards College. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.