Michelle Foley

Yalies — especially the older ones — love to offer advice. The pretentious ones might even refer to it as imparting wisdom. That’s all well and good, as long as you don’t trust them.

Oh, don’t get me wrong, you should listen to their advice. But it will contradict itself. Consider this course review: “I wouldn’t recommend this course to another student. It was boring and not well organized. I don’t feel like I actually learned anything; it was more of a fun story hour with [REDACTED]. That being said, he’s a great lecturer, but the course was poorly facilitated.”

If your friend told you this, you might write off that class. The small issue is that out of the other 51 reviews, 49 fall between “Yes!” and “Definitely!” with two cowardly “Maybes” who never learned to make up their minds about anything. 

Take a new scenario. It’s 8:55 p.m. on a Monday night. Friend A tells you that you oughta come to The Yale Record meeting in LC 317 because it’s the most fun you’ll ever have and a great group of people. Friend B, your pal from econ, tells you that the pset is really hard and you should try to get ahead on it. And Friend C, an upperclassman, tells you that there’s a lowkey party on Dwight Street — welcome to college, kid; this degenerate junior goes out on Monday! — they can try to get you into.

What do you do? You could despair and pick randomly. You could trust the upperclassman (much to the chagrin of your parents) and find this underground Monday night rager. Or — and bear with me, because this might sound crazy — you could trust yourself. 

Those unreliable friends don’t know your taste. Everybody I knew told me not to join the YDN, and I believed them for a while. Look at me now: a washed up writer imparting unsolicited wisdom to the next generation. Things surprise you.

They told me I simply had to take a first-year seminar — that it was crucial to the Yale experience. It was my least favorite class at Yale thus far. They told me I would hate CS201. It was one of my favorites. They told me not to hang out at FroCo duty for hours on end, but it’s where I met some of my best friends. They said to try to be besties with your suitemates, except some of them said to be loose friendly acquaintances so you don’t risk getting into a fight, and they were all wrong because relationships aren’t that simple and evolve over time and I just happened to get lucky enough to have a roommate who said “Good night, buddy!” every night before bed.

They — the vague masses of Yalies who think they know stuff — are wrong just as often as they are right because they don’t know who you are, who you want to be or what brings you joy. They know themselves. As every incoming first year hears from every adult in their life, college is about exploring and finding yourself.

So listen to advice. Get multiple viewpoints if you can. Weigh it all as carefully as you want. But when it comes time to make a decision, trust yourself. If you feel strongly, blow off all the wisdom and set your own course. That’s just my advice, though.

Andrew Cramer is a former sports editor, women's basketball beat reporter, and WKND personal columnist at the YDN. He still writes for the WKND and Sports sections. He is a junior in Jonathan Edwards College and is majoring in Ethics, Politics & Economics.